BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Biden-Harris administration announced on Monday that Birmingham is one of 31 tech hubs in the country, the only city in the southeast.
Now, Birmingham has the opportunity to apply for funding up to $70 million dollars in biotechnology.
Southern Research said Birmingham has already been doing biotechnology work that would be funded by this grant and it has no plans of stopping but instead letting this fuel the momentum.
“This is just a signal of what’s to come,” said Josh Carpenter, CEO of Southern Research. “There’s a lot of people committed to making sure that Birmingham’s next era of economic prosperity happens, and I think we’re just proud to be a part of it.”
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) President Ray Watts said this has been part of a long-time plan to make Birmingham and Alabama a biotech commercialization center nationwide.
“The work we’ll do through this grant, and we will win the grants, we will be able to transform the care of our people based on their precision health,” Watts said. “We believe that the biotechnology industry will be one of the very, most important in the state of Alabama in the months and years to come.”
Southern Research said the team will have a couple of months to put together an application for the funding.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said this designation will also help the city in creating more jobs and opportunity.
“We want to pop champagne bottles, but not in the sense of victory for victory’s sake but what this means for changing Birmingham’s economy, in changing our economic identity, in the ability to increase the opportunity in saving lives and what that does for acceleration and growth for our community,” Woodfin said.
Even before being named a “tech hub,” Birmingham has been attracting tech startups, over 120 of them coming together inside Innovation Depot.
“We think here at Innovation Depot that we need to build culture,” said Brooke Gillis, CEO of Innovation Depot. “We need to bring people to the building and have density and so we need to attract talent to Birmingham so they can live here, they can work alongside each other to solve the world’s next biggest problems.”
Innovation Depot said a title like “tech hub” will put Birmingham on the map and help to draw all kinds of talent and companies to the city.
“We’ve actually had breakfasts with the mayor,” said Tevin Harrell, CEO of SmartWiz. “How many people can say that as a tech startup or as a growing company, to where you’re sitting with the mayor and they’re asking you, ‘What else can we do for the tech environment to be better? What else can we do as a city to incentivize and help bring talent and do the things?’ and listen and actually go do it.”