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Alabama Innovation Corp. unleashes grants to fuel growth of small businesses, tech sector

The Alabama Innovation Corp. has launched a first wave of grants to support entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state, with the goal of helping them expand and advance Alabama’s innovation economy.

A total of 31 awards were presented to 30 winners who will share more than $4.5 million through the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program. The recipients are in six cities across the state.

The diverse group of entrepreneurs can use the grants to grow their businesses in Alabama in a variety of ways, from boosting their research or commercialization efforts, to refining their products or technologies, to hiring staff, according to a news release from Alabama Innovation Corp.

“Thanks to the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program, the work of the Alabama Innovation Corporation and the Alabama Legislature, 30 small businesses across our state will have the opportunity to commercialize their technology to help solve global issues,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “We are proud to support these entrepreneurs and business leaders who will leave a lasting impact on Alabama’s economy and pave the way for future generations of Alabamians.”

“In order to ensure that Alabama can compete in the 21st century economy, we must continue to pursue policies and initiatives that support the recruitment and retention of innovative companies and talent in our state,” said Bill Poole, state finance director and Alabama Innovation Corp. chair.

“Initiatives such as the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program encourage our state’s leading entrepreneurs to build their businesses right here at home, where they have the capital and resources to confidently do so,” Poole added.

Innovative companies across Alabama will benefit from $4.5 million in grants from the Alabama Innovation Corp. (Getty Images)

Alabama is among 20 states that have implemented supplemental grants for both Phase I and Phase II Federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) winners. In this first round of Innovate Alabama grant funding, local entrepreneurs and innovators who are recipients of Phase I and Phase II SBIR and STTR grants were awarded up to $250,000 of supplemental funding to support the growth of their businesses.

The Legislature has allocated another $5 million for fiscal 2023 to provide a second round of grants for eligible businesses. Applicants must have a Phase I or Phase II SBIR or STTR grant that was active on or after July 1, 2022. The application portal is expected to reopen in 2023.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Alabama Legislature and our state’s innovation ecosystem, we have the opportunity to connect forward-thinking entrepreneurs and innovators who are looking to make a difference across the state – from Huntsville to Bessemer to Mobile – with the capital they need to thrive,” said Dave King, Alabama Innovation Corp. board member and former Dynetics Group president. “Through this program, our goal is to not only provide support to Alabama businesses but, more specifically, to those who need it most, including those led by minorities, women or Alabamians located in underserved areas.”

For small businesses that have not secured an SBIR or STTR grant, Bio Alabama, along with other partners, is hosting a virtual workshop Aug. 30-31 on how to apply for federal funding. To register, click here.

The grant winners, their locations and their projects are:

  • 525 Solutions Inc., Tuscaloosa/Bayou La Batre – 525 Solutions is working with underrepresented and underutilized communities to turn shrimp shell waste into valuable products, which reduces waste and reliance on plastics.
  • Accelerate Wind Inc., Birmingham – Accelerate Wind is retiring risk in its design for an affordable wind turbine for commercial buildings.
  • AeroNeph Therapeutics Inc., Birmingham – The goal of this grant is to discover, validate and advance novel, small-molecule compounds that can mask, block or reduce the bitter taste of medicines, foods and beverages.
  • AI Metrics LLC, Birmingham – The company received two grants to:
    • Develop and validate artificial intelligence algorithms that assist radiologists with the diagnosis and staging of COVID-19 and other lung diseases on computer scan images.
    • Demonstrate the company’s previously developed medical image measurement tool to stage the severity of pulmonary fibrosis accurately and noninvasively on computer scan images.
  • American Renewable Metals LLC, Bessemer – The company is taking a low-cost glut of glycerin and converting it to a solvent, which is safer, more environmentally friendly, less flammable and easier to work with than traditional petroleum-based solvents.
  • AVNIK Defense Solutions, Huntsville – The company has developed a hand-held toolset to detect and locate wiring faults, such as a short in cables.
  • BioGradMatch, Tuscaloosa – This is a grant-funded joint venture between Stillman College and Admit Academy to help students at historically Black colleges and universities navigate mental and logistical hurdles to successfully apply for biomedical graduate programs.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at the Innovate Alabama grants announcement. (contributed)

    CerFlux Inc., Birmingham – The company is working to eliminate ineffective cancer treatments for patients and reduce the pain, cost and treatment time by matching the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

  • CFD Research Corp. (CFDRC), Huntsville – CFDRC and the Myers Lab at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology are developing a point-of-care diagnostic test enabling clinicians to use genetic information to personalize medication and dosage, decreasing over-prescription of drugs, such as opioids.
  • Clarity LLC D.B.A. Sure Med Compliance, Mobile – The company is measuring the effectiveness of a compliance-based software program to lessen risks associated with prescribing controlled substances in pain management settings.
  • EH Group Inc., Tuscaloosa – The grant is focused on studying computer and mathematical tools to automatically detect and identify objects (vehicles, camouflage and patterns, etc.) in military satellite images.
  • Endomimetics LLC, Birmingham – The company has created a drug-delivering gel that dramatically improves the usability and longevity of a patient’s blood vessels used for dialysis.
  • EngeniusMicro, Huntsville – The grant is focused on integrating antennas for use with drone flight controllers under production and other unmanned aircraft systems platforms.
  • FreEnt Technologies Inc., Huntsville – The company is developing a hit-detection system used during the flight of an aircraft, spacecraft, missile or satellite that sends data back in real time, allowing for correction of flight paths to protect the vehicle.
  • GeneCapture Inc., Huntsville – The goal of the grant is to develop a rapid portable infection detection system for use in remote areas, where there is no access to a lab.
  • MRIMath LLC, Birmingham – The company is developing a software tool that advances standard of care by helping physicians accurately and efficiently delineate brain tumors in medical images.
  • Nanoxort LLC, Auburn – With its grant, Nanoxort is developing a safer, more effective imaging agent to improve diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases.
  • NeXolve Holding Co., Huntsville – NeXolve is developing improved materials for use in space, enabling spacecraft to last longer, perform better and cost less.
  • Ossillate Inc., Auburn – The company is developing software tools and techniques to stop cybersecurity attacks that occur from accidental use of malicious, open-source software.
  • Outpost Technologies LLC, Huntsville – The company is manufacturing precision mirrors from a new, high-performance metal with the goal of reducing costs and risks for NASA and Department of Defense programs.
  • Polaris Sensor Technologies Inc., Huntsville – The company is developing an Infrared facial Recognition and Identification System (IRIS) that uses state-of-the-art algorithms and optics to covertly perform facial recognition at “long standoff” (up to 1,640 feet), day or night.
  • Reliant Glycosciences LLC, Birmingham – The grant is for the development of a blood test for a kidney disease that now can only be diagnosed with a risky biopsy.
  • Reliant Technologies Inc., Huntsville – This grant is related to a project called the Logistics And Sustainment Simulation Optimization (LASSO) tool, which is a set of software modules designed to automatically fetch data from Army data sources, feed it into models of Army aircraft, and run simulations of Army aviation operations and output analysis for Army sustainment planning.
  • Innovative companies are transforming industries from health care and education to defense and security. (Getty Images)

    Serina Therapeutics Inc., Huntsville – The grant will support the development of SER-227, a pain drug that will simultaneously target and avoid opioid misuse and addiction disorders.

  • Streamline Automation LLC, Huntsville – The company is developing a quantum computer processor designed for use in portable and mobile systems that will provide significant performance increases for artificial intelligence, autonomous (self-driving) systems, drug discovery, optimization and other complex computational problems.
  • SunFire Biotechnologies LLC, Birmingham – The company is developing tests to help vaccine development against a diarrheal infection caused by Shigella bacteria common in third-world countries.
  • Trac9 LLC, Huntsville – Trac9 is funded by the Air Force to develop its rapid-setup, portable composite buildings for aviation maintenance and other functions at remote locations.
  • Trialtus Bioscience LLC, Birmingham – The company is developing a membrane-based system for isolating proteins to dramatically improve production speed and capacity compared to existing methods.
  • TruSpin Nanomaterial Innovation Inc., Birmingham – An underlying grant from the National Science Foundation improves this company’s manufacturing equipment by helping explain why certain equipment settings cause the equipment to operate better.
  • Zeus Research and Technology Inc., Huntsville – The purpose of the grant is to derive an accurate location and aim point of an Army artillery gun (howitzer and extended-range cannon) while it is undergoing testing, allowing engineers to reduce the gun-firing-test timeline from 5 minutes to 20 seconds.

The Alabama Innovation Corp., also known as Innovate Alabama, is the first statewide public-private partnership focused on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. The corporation is made up of a board of 11 ex-officio and at-large innovation leaders appointed by the governor, collaborating across sectors to advance industries, drive technology and facilitate an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship thrive. Learn more at