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These new laws will help accelerate growth of Alabama’s innovation economy

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey hosted a commemorative bill signing ceremony July 29 for House Bill 540 and House Bill 609, two key pieces of innovation legislation passed during the 2021 state legislative session. These bills, recommended by the Alabama Innovation Commission, will drive inclusive innovation and shape the future of entrepreneurship in the state.

“Innovation is a key part of Alabama’s past, present and future,” Ivey said. “I’m thrilled to be celebrating the passage of forward-thinking legislation, which will enable sustained growth for Alabama’s businesses. I applaud the commission’s work and their leadership, which will continue to advance the state and drive a diverse, resilient economy.”

Alabama creates new innovation corporation, incentives from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Commission members, entrepreneurs and lawmakers gathered in the Alabama State Capitol to commemorate the enactment of Alabama’s innovation policies.

House Bill 540, sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa, created the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a public-private partnership tasked with growing the state’s technology and innovation ecosystem. House Bill 609, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray of Opelika and Sen. Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham, created the Innovate Alabama Matching Program that the Innovation Corporation will oversee. The program will match federal awards to Alabama-based Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) recipients.

“These innovative, smart policies will shape the future of Alabama and exponentially increase Alabama’s competitiveness in a global economy,” said Rep. Poole, chair of the commission. “Through Gov. Ivey’s leadership, the Alabama Innovation Commission continues to collaborate and develop groundbreaking opportunities that will put Alabama on the map as a leader in innovation.”

The Alabama Innovation Commission met Thursday in Montgomery as part of its work to grow Alabama’s innovation economy. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

The commission has celebrated a number of milestones since its inception in July 2020, including:

  • The release of an interim report in January, which helped drive the passage of these two bills.
  • A partnership with the Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank affiliated with Stanford University. This partnership will allow experts and leading scholars to examine and offer recommendations on the topics of tech innovation, education and economic development in Alabama.
  • The creation of the Alabama Innovation Corporation and the SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program.

“The commission consists of some of the most talented innovators, private-sector experts and policymakers from across the state, and our work will help grow technology accelerators and early-stage companies, ultimately creating a 21st century workforce that is ready for Alabama’s next generation of jobs,” said Sen. Greg Reed, who is vice chair of the Alabama Innovation Commission. “We’ve experienced success over the past year, and our work is just beginning.”

Next steps for the commission include delivering a report of key findings on how to continue to grow Alabama’s innovation economy and tech-related industries. The report, due to Ivey by Oct. 31, will highlight policy recommendations to support and grow Alabama’s innovation economy. The Hoover Institution’s findings will be included.

The Alabama Innovation Commission and its subcommittees also met July 29 to discuss finalizing recommendations for the report. The next commission meeting is Thursday, Sept. 23. Commission meetings are open for the public to attend virtually.