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Innovate Alabama awards grants to 13 Huntsville small businesses

HUNTSVILLE — Innovate Alabama has awarded grants to 13 Huntsville companies whose proven business models will help advance Alabama’s regional and national economic footprint. The small businesses and 17 others from the state shared more than $4.5 million.

The grant winners, who are recipients of Phase I and Phase II SBIR and STTR funds, were awarded up to $250,000 of supplemental funding.

Dave King, former Dynetics Group president and Alabama Innovation Corp. board member, said thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Legislature and the state’s innovation ecosystem, the supplemental grants offer opportunities to connect forward-thinking entrepreneurs and innovators looking to make a difference across the state with the capital they need to thrive.

“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,” said King.

A total of 31 awards were presented to 30 winners, encompassing a diverse group of entrepreneurs across six Alabama cities, including almost one-third women and minority-owned businesses.

“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,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “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.”

The Huntsville-based companies are:

  • AVNIK Defense Solutions earned funding for its intelligent Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave hand-held toolset that detects and locates open- or short-wiring faults.
  • CFD Research and the Myers’ lab at HudsonAlpha will use the funding to continue developing a point-of-care diagnostic test enabling clinicians to use genetic information to personalize medication and dosage, decreasing the over-prescription of drugs such as opioids.
  • EngeniusMicro will integrate antennas for its under-production drone flight controllers and UAS platforms used by other Alabama-located entities.
  • FreEnt Technologies will use the money to continue the development of a hit-detection system used during the flight of an aircraft, spacecraft, missile, or satellite. The system returns data in real time, allowing for the correction of flight path to maintain the best possible outcomes for the vehicle.
  • Gene Capture is using its SBIR funding to develop a rapid, portable infection detection system for use in areas with no access to a lab.
  • Nexolve Holding Co. will use the supplemental funding to develop improved materials for use in space that enable spacecraft to last longer, perform better and cost less. The company recently developed the sunshield technology to reflect and redirect the sun’s heat from the cameras and other instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • Outpost Technologies will use the funds to continue manufacturing precision (<.0001-inch accuracy) mirrors from a high-performance metal to reduce significant cost, technical, and schedule risks to NASA and DoD programs.
  • The Huntsville location of Polaris Sensor Technologies is using its Phase II STTR effort to continue developing the Infrared facial Recognition and Identification System (IRIS). The system uses algorithms and optics to covertly perform facial recognition from a distance, day or night.
  • Supplemental SBIR contributions will help Reliant Technologies advance its SBIR project –  the Logistics and Sustainment Simulation Optimization tool. The LASSO is a set of software modules designed to automatically fetch data from Army data sources, feed it into aircraft models, run simulations of aviation operations, and output analysis for sustainment planning.
  • Serina Therapeutics will use the grant to support the development of SER-227, a pain drug that will simultaneously target and avoid opioid misuse and addiction disorders, under the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) program.
  • Streamline Automation will use the money to continue developing a quantum computer processor. Designed for use in portable and mobile systems, it will provide performance increases for artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, drug discovery, optimization, and other complex computational problems.
  • Funded by the Air Force under the SBIR program, Trac9 is developing its rapid to set-up, portable composite buildings for aviation maintenance and other functions at remote locations around the world.
  • And last but far from least are Zeus Research and Technology’s efforts to derive an accurate location and aim-point of a howitzer or extended range cannon while it’s being tested. This would allow engineers to reduce the firing test time from five minutes to 20 seconds.

“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, Alabama director of finance and Innovate Alabama 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.

“These initiatives also demonstrate and highlight the ingenuity of our citizens and the fact that Alabama can and should pursue its full potential in regard to growing this critical sector of our economy, and I particularly thank Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for making these investments possible.”

For small businesses that have not secured an SBIR or STTR grant, Bio Alabama and  several partners are hosting an SBIR/STTR Funding Virtual Workshop today and Wednesday. Click here to register.

Applicants must have a Phase I or Phase II SBIR or STTR grant that was active on or after July 1. The application portal is expected to reopen in 2023.

Innovate Alabama is Alabama’s first statewide public-private partnership focused on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation with at-large innovation leaders appointed by Gov. Ivey, collaborating across sectors to advance industries, drive technology and facilitate an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship thrive.

The state Legislature has allocated an additional $5 million for the 2023 fiscal year to provide a second round of grant funding for eligible Alabama small businesses.

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