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Alabama Innovation Commission’s priority bills pass in state House

The Alabama Innovation Commission continues to map opportunities to ensure the state has the right tools to grow and scale innovative businesses.

The commission’s two priority bills in the 2021 legislative session, the Alabama Innovation Corporation legislation (House Bill 540) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) legislation (House Bill 609), passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday and will advance to the Senate.

“These pieces of legislation have the ability to drive Alabama’s success and future growth while creating more opportunities for Alabamians in every corner of the state,” said Rep. Bill Poole, chair of the Alabama Innovation Commission and sponsor of HB 540. “I’m excited about these bills and know that they will be transformational for our state’s economy. I’m appreciative of Gov. (Kay) Ivey’s vision for prioritizing innovation and supporting entrepreneurship and jobs.”

The bills were drafted based on interim policy recommendations from the commission.

Alabama Innovation Corporation (HB 540)

House Bill 540 would create the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership in Alabama to serve as a catalyst for the state’s growing innovation economy.

The Innovation Corporation would provide an opportunity to build on the state’s innovation history and foundation to continue to meet the demands of an evolving world. The corporation would develop and implement a long-term strategy for ensuring the collaboration required to establish and grow Alabama’s economy of the future.

Sen. Greg Reed, vice chair of the Alabama Innovation Commission, said these forward-thinking policy recommendations would strengthen the state’s economy.

“I have been impressed with the commission’s efforts in developing ideas that leverage our existing assets. The Innovation Corporation will create job opportunity across the state like we’ve never seen before,” Reed said. “Alabama has a strong history of innovation and this public-private partnership brings everyone to the table to continue that success in a meaningful way.”

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/ Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Matching Grant Program (HB 609)

House Bill 609, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray, would create a program to match federal awards to Alabama-based SBIR or STTR recipients. SBIR and STTR awards are helpful for companies with technologies that can be commercialized, supporting entrepreneurs throughout a large array of industries, including biotechnology.

“The Alabama Innovation Commission has been instrumental in supporting the development of forward-thinking policies that would impact the state,” Gray said. “State matching programs like this make it more attractive for small businesses to pursue SBIR and STTR funding and to conduct innovative research in Alabama. This program would continue to build entrepreneurship in the state to ensure Alabama is a leader in innovation.”