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Innovate Alabama awards more than $4.5 million in small business grants

Thirty-one awards were presented to 30 winners, encompassing a diverse group of entrepreneurs across six Alabama cities.

Innovate Alabama
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The Alabama Innovation Corporation (Innovate Alabama) announced the first round of small business recipients of the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program, awarding more than $4.5 million in grant funding. Thirty-one awards were presented to 30 winners, encompassing a diverse group of entrepreneurs across six Alabama cities.

The recipients will be able to utilize these funds to support and grow their businesses within the state, benefiting local business owners who are commercializing modern technology as well as the state’s regional and national economic footprint.

The program will continue to advance Alabama’s economy through numerous avenues, including boosting research and commercialization efforts, developing exportable products and services and generating high-wage job opportunities.

“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.”

Among the 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, Alabama is poised to retain top talent and grow its economy by providing resources like these to businesses with a proven track record of developing breakthrough research and technology.

“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 Alabama Innovation Corporation 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 regards to growing this critical sector of our economy, and I particularly thank Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for making these investments possible.”

Alabama 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 small businesses.

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Winners of the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant are located in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Bessemer, Huntsville, Auburn and Mobile and include 9 women- and minority-owned businesses, almost a third of the total number of grantees.

“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, former Dynetics Group president and Alabama Innovation Corporation board member. “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.”

The Alabama 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. 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.

For small businesses who have not yet secured an SBIR or STTR grant, Bio Alabama, along with a number of other partners, is hosting an SBIR/STTR Funding Virtual Workshop to teach small business owners how to apply for federal funding to support their organizations. Featuring Greenwood Consulting Group and SBIR/STTR program directors from federal agencies, participants will have the opportunity to engage in an application workshop, breakout sessions and one-on-one application consultations. To register for the workshop, please visit the link here.

Recipients from the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program include the following small businesses:

  • 525 Solutions, Inc., Tuscaloosa/Bayou la Batre
    • 525 Solutions is working with Alabama’s underrepresented and underutilized communities to develop new jobs and a new industry, by turning Bayou La Batre shrimp shell waste into new valuable products to reduce our reliance on plastics and the pollution in coastal areas.
  • Accelerate Wind, Inc, Birmingham
    • In our NSF Phase II SBIR grant, Accelerate Wind is retiring risk in our design for an affordable wind turbine for commercial buildings through design, build and test of our unit at a certified wind test site.
  • AeroNeph Therapeutics, Inc., Birmingham
    • The goal of this Phase 2 STTR grant is to discover, validate and progress novel small molecule compounds that mask/block/attenuate the bitterness of medicines or food/beverage ingredients that can be used as licensable products for manufacturers to use to re-formulate medicines or foods or beverages.
  • AI Metrics, LLC, Birmingham
    • The goal of this grant is to develop and validate artificial intelligence algorithms that assist radiologists (medical doctors) with the diagnosis and staging of COVID and other lung diseases on computed tomography (CAT scan) medical images. 
    • The goal of this grant was to demonstrate that our previously developed medical image measurement tool (pulmonary surface irregularity [PSI] score) can be used to accurately and noninvasively stage the severity of pulmonary (lung) fibrosis on computed tomography (CAT scan) images. This puts us in a position to rapidly obtain FDA clearance. 
  • American Renewable Metals, LLC, Bessemer
    • During this SBIR grant we are 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 other traditional petroleum-based solvents. Some common solvents that could be replaced include acetone, ethanol, methanol, kerosene, turpentine, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), hexane and other noxious chemicals.  
  • AVNIK Defense Solutions, Inc., Huntsville
    • The intelligent Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (iFMCW) is a hand-held toolset to detect and located wiring faults, such as an open or short, in cables.
  • BioGradMatch, Tuscaloosa
    • BioGradMatch is grant-funded joint venture between Stillman College and Admit Academy designed to help students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities navigate mental and logistical hurdles in order to apply to well-matched biomedical graduate programs.
  • CerFlux, Inc., Birmingham
    • Today, chemotherapy is ineffective for 3 out of 4 cancer patients; our SBIR work aims to eliminate ineffective cancer treatment and reduce the pain, the cost, and the time of cancer treatment by matching the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
  • CFD Research Corporation, Huntsville
    • CFDRC and the Myers’ lab at HudsonAlpha 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, Mobile
    • We are measuring the effectiveness of a compliance-based software program to lessen the risks associated with prescribing controlled substances in pain management settings.
  • EH Group, Inc., Tuscaloosa
    • The underlying SBIR grant studies computer and mathematical tools to automatically detect and identify objects (vehicles, camouflage, patterns, etc.) in military satellite images.
  • Endomimetics, LLC, Birmingham
    • Endomimetics has created a drug delivering gel that dramatically improves the usability and longevity of a patient’s blood vessels used for dialysis. 
  • EngeniusMicro, Huntsville
    • EngeniusMicro would be able to integrate these antennas for use with its drone flight controllers currently undergoing productization as well as UAS platforms used by other Alabama-located entities.
  • FreEnt Technologies, Inc., Huntsville
    • We aim to provide a hit-detection system that is used during the flight of an aircraft, spacecraft, missile, or satellite and sends data back in real time allowing for the correction of flight path in order to maintain the best possible outcomes for the vehicle.  
  • Gene Capture, Inc., Huntsville
    • The goal of the SBIR is to develop a rapid portable infection detection system for use in very remote areas, where there is no access to a lab.
  • MRIMath, LLC, Birmingham
    • MRIMath is developing a software tool that advances the standard of care by helping physicians accurately and efficiently delineate brain tumors in medical images.
  • Nanoxort, LLC, Auburn
    • With its NSF STTR grant, Nanoxort is developing a safer, more effective imaging agent to improve diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Nexolve Holding Company, Huntsville
    • NeXolve is developing improved materials for use in space, our materials enable spacecraft to last longer, perform better and cost less.
  • Ossillate, Inc., Auburn
    • We are developing new software tools and techniques to stop Cybersecurity attacks that occur from accidental use of malicious open-source software.
  • Outpost Technologies, LLC, Huntsville
    • Telescope mirrors cost millions of dollars to manufacture, and Outpost is manufacturing precision (<.0001” accuracy) mirrors from a new high-performance metal aiming to reduce significant cost, technical, and schedule risks to NASA and DOD programs.
  • Polaris Sensor Technologies, Inc, Huntsville
    • During this Phase II STTR effort, Polaris is developing the Infrared facial Recognition and Identification System (IRIS) which uses state-of-the-art algorithms and optics to covertly perform facial recognition at long standoff (up to 500m), day or night.
  • Reliant Glycosciences, LLC, Birmingham
    • Our SBIR award is for the development of a blood test for a kidney disease that right now can only be diagnosed with a kidney biopsy which is very risky.  
  • Reliant Technologies, Inc., Huntsville
    • Reliant Technologies has a SBIR 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, run simulations of Army aviation operations, and output analysis for Army Sustainment planning.
  • Serina Therapeutics, Inc., Huntsville
    • This is a 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, LLC, Huntsville
    • Streamline Automation is developing a quantum computer processor that is designed for use in portable and mobile systems that will provide extraordinary performance increases for artificial intelligence, autonomous (self-driving) systems, drug discovery, optimization, and other complex computational problems.
  • Sunfire Biotechnologies, LLC, Birmingham
    • SunFire Biotechnologies is developing tests to help vaccine development against a diarrheal infection caused by Shigella bacteria common in third-world countries.
  • Trac9, LLC, Huntsville
    • Trac9, LLC is funded by the Air Force under the SBIR program to develop its rapid to set-up, portable composite buildings for aviation maintenance and other functions at remote locations around the world. 
  • Trialtus Bioscience, LLC, Birmingham
    • TriAltus is developing a membrane-based system for isolating proteins that will dramatically improve production speed and capacity compared to existing methods.
  • TruSpin Nanomaterial Innovatoin, Inc., Birmingham
    • The underlying grant from the National Science Foundation improves our company’s manufacturing equipment by helping us explain why certain equipment settings cause the equipment to operate better.
  • Zeus Research and Technology, Inc. Huntsville
    • The purpose of this effort is to derive an accurate location and aim point of an Army artillery gun (Howitzer and Extended Range Cannon) while it’s under test which will allow engineers to reduce the gun firing test timeline from 5 minutes to 20 seconds. 

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