Alabama Innovation Commission releases recommendations

Condoleezza Rice among those at event in Birmingham today

Condoleezza Rice, left, Zeke Smith and Gov. Kay Ivey were among those attending today’s Innovate Alabama event.

The Alabama Innovation Commission, tasked with coming up with recommendations to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in the state, today shared its report that focuses on five components.

Gov. Kay Ivey and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state and director of the Hoover Institution, joined state leaders as the report was shared.

The policy recommendations and findings detailed in the report center on five areas that address current challenges:

  • Entrepreneurship and Access to Capital: Identifying and supporting opportunities to fuel entrepreneurial development at every stage of business growth.   
  • Talent Attraction and Retention: Recruiting and retaining a workforce with the skills, knowledge and credentials necessary to create innovation ecosystems throughout the state.  
  • Increasing Commercialization: Fostering an environment that increases commercialization activities, research and development efforts and supports the state’s economy as a whole.  
  • Bridging Digital and Economic Divides: Leveraging initiatives and resources that support growth throughout Alabama.  
  • Knowledge Economy: Developing a skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of the future.  

“These policy recommendations are a culmination of 18 months of hard work, time and effort from a variety of different highly qualified individuals and organizations working together to chart a strong path forward for our state’s economy, and I couldn’t be any happier with the product that the commission was able to produce,” said State Sen. Greg Reed, who led the commission with Bill Poole, director of the state’s Department of Finance. “This report outlines a road map to spurring entrepreneurship, startup businesses and innovation in our state, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the future of Alabama.”

Poole is chairman of the Alabama Innovation Corporation board announced Tuesday. The public-private partnership will be responsible for implementing the initiatives and recommendations in the commission’s report.

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To read the commission’s report, go here.

Listen to Bill Poole and Greg Reed on the Business Alabama Podcast.

In addition to Poole, board members are Rich Bielen, president and CEO of Protective Life Corp.; Dr. Michael Chambers, assistant vice president for research innovation at the University of South Alabama; Abe Harper, president of Harper Technologies; David King, president of Dynetics; and Britney Summerville, founder of Birmingham Bound.

Ex-officio members include Ivey, Reed, Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels; and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton.

“The Alabama Innovation Commission has done incredible work, and I’m excited to see how we as a state can implement smart policies that will foster innovation and develop a talented workforce for the future,” Ivey said.  “I’m inspired by the promising growth for Alabama’s economy, and I look forward to working with the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama Innovation Corporation to help Alabama reach new heights.”

The commission had an advisory council led by Alabama Power Executive Vice President Zeke Smith as well as a partnership with the Hoover Institution.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Rice said that partnership will continue with the Alabama Innovation Corporation.

“I’m proud to be a daughter of Alabama, and believe that Alabama’s education, job training and workforce development can be second to none. This state is poised for an even greater future here and we are excited to be a part of that,” she said.

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