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Governor Bentley Awards Innovation Funds to 15 Higher Education Projects

From the Office of Governor Robert Bentley

HOOVER – A series of grants announced by Governor Robert Bentley Wednesday will pave the way for research, innovation, and job creation across Alabama.

The grants, totaling $4 million, come from the Alabama Innovation Fund.  The Alabama Innovation Fund supports research and economic development initiatives from the state’s public colleges and universities.  The fund is a part of Accelerate Alabama – the state’s long-term plan for economic development.  This first round of grants is part of Governor Bentley’s efforts to further prioritize innovation and entrepreneurship in the Education Trust Fund budget.

“By awarding these grants, we are investing in new opportunities that will benefit our communities for years to come,” Governor Bentley said.  “The Alabama Innovation Fund supports high-tech research and innovative ideas.  These grants will lead to new innovations for our communities and more jobs for Alabamians.”

In all, 15 grants were announced Wednesday at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s second annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference.

The Alabama Innovation Fund operates two distinct programs administered by Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.  The Renewal Program distributes grants to public universities based on each university’s federally-financed research and development expenditures as reported over the preceding three years by the National Science Foundation.  The Research Program stimulates economic development.

Criteria used in awarding the grants include the existence of a public-private partnership, the likelihood of a project being capable of successful commercialization, the likelihood that it will stimulate further research and development in Alabama, and the likelihood of the project contributing directly or indirectly to the creation of additional jobs within the state.

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“This program will enhance Alabama’s economy in a variety of ways,” Secretary Canfield said.  “Not only will it help us attract new industries to the state, it will also work to expand the technology base available to our state’s businesses.  It will help create new products and services, provide support to existing businesses and industries, and increase both the number and quality of scientists and engineers throughout the state.”

The project principal investigators, school names, the names of the projects, and the award amounts include:

  • Robert Kimberly, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Center for Clinical and Translation and Science Innovation, $1,574,885  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Jason Cassibry, the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), Development and Testing of the Charger Facility for Deep Space Fusion Propulsion Research, $299,557  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Oladiran Fasina, Auburn University (AU), Naval Stores Chemicals Productions from Southern Forests by Innovative Treating, $204,351  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Richard P. Swatloski, the University of Alabama (UA), Alabama Start-up Seed Fund Program, $125,792  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Alec Yasinsac, University of South Alabama (USA), Metrics for Computing Education, $78,617  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Weikuan Yu, AU, Smart Network Backplane for Fast Analytics of Big Data, $68,797  (Renewal Program Funding)
  • Allen Parrish, UA, 10-8CAD (Public safety technology, computer-aided dispatch), $206,326  (Research Program Funding)
  • Bruce Tatarchuk, AU, Ultra High Thermal Conductivity Catalyst Carriers, $200,020  (Research Program Funding)
  • Bharat Soni, UAB, Integrated Mixed Reality Simulation Training Center, $200,000  (Research Program Funding)
  • David Nelson, USA, Commercial Development of Millimeter Wave Peripheral Perfusion Monitor, $200,000  (Research Program Funding)
  • Vicki P. Hawsey, Wallace State at Hanceville, Appalachian Regional Commission Center for Entrepreneurship and Energy Innovations, $200,000  (Research Program Funding)
  • Anthony Skjellum, UAB, Commercialization of UAB Research Innovations in Cybersecurity, $184,000  (Research Program Funding)
  • Robin D. Rogers, UA, A General Approach to 2D Nanomaterial, $160,487  (Research Program Funding)
  • Marko Hakovirta, AU, Intelligent Control Solution for Smart Manufacturing and Energy Reduction in Pulp Mills, $142,835  (Research Program Funding)
  • Gregory Thompson, UA, Partnering with Nucor Steel in Development Microalloyed Precipitation Strengthened Steels, $74,332  (Research Program Funding)


Also Wednesday, Governor Bentley said that in order to continue the momentum of bringing great jobs to the state, he needs the help of the voters on November 6.  Amendment Two on the November 6 ballot will correct technical language regarding the refinancing of bonds and will allow the savings from lower interest rates to be used to recruit new industry and encourage existing industry expansions.

“The bottom line is this will give our state a new avenue for providing economic development incentives, and that will help us create more new jobs,” Governor Bentley said.  “The amendment will not raise the state’s debt limit, and it will go a long way in helping us ensure more economic development for communities across the state.”


Written By

Robert Bentley is the former governor of the state of Alabama.