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Executive director Rachel Lane visited Tuscaloosa in late June, where she found supportive bioscience allies and enthusiastic innovators on and off campus. The trip kicked off with an engaging conversation at the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority with Executive Director Danielle Winningham and Director of Business Development Max Snyder about building Tuscaloosa’s bioeconomy. Tuscaloosa has successfully supported the automobile manufacturing industry and is interested in exploring potential crossover opportunities that support bioscience.
Dr. Lane talks with UA faculty about the state of bioscience in Alabama.
Dan Blakley, Associate Vice President for Economic and Business Engagement at The University of Alabama, hosted Dr. Lane’s campus visit at the University of Alabama. From the first conversation, UA’s concerted effort to strategically lower barriers and pave multiple paths to industry engagement was evident. The Office of Research and Economic Development leadership team recently altered their tech transfer processes to streamline contract engagements, encourage industry partnerships, and promote innovation. Dr. Sharlene Newman – Executive Director of the Alabama Life Research Institute – is cultivating valuable industry research partnerships, including an engagement with CVS. The Alabama Water Institute's agenda also typifies UA's deep-rooted appreciation for the natural resources that sustain life and their commitment to solving the challenges of the future before they become the problems of the present. Ravi Kumar, PhD -- the university's latest faculty recruit -- has developed a novel drug delivery platform with the potential to promote collaborations across the state and nation.
Drs. Lane, Newman, M. Thompson (Assistant Professor of Chemistry), J. Cochran (Associate Dean for Research at the University of Alabama), J. Bara (Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering), R. Kumar (College of Community Health) and N. Chiem (Office of Innovation and Commercialization) engaged in a lively discussion about the state of bioscience at UA and around the state. They were joined by Dana George, Business Engagement and Research Operations Manager at The University of Alabama, who runs the Mobile office and facilitates industry partnerships.
“Across all my site visits, people are so excited to gather in person again. All the conversations have been fully engaged, future focused, and collaboration centered. It’s energizing to see our members connect in meaningful ways to build the future together,” observed Dr. Lane after their discussion.
The executive agenda has clearly influenced the student and startup population. The UA graduate students that met with Dr. Lane were especially interested in learning about industry opportunities around the state, and several resident companies at The EDGE – the university’s incubator and accelerator – are navigating bio-based innovations. The Alabama International Trade Center (AITC) continues to be an incredible resource for bioscience companies statewide, helping establish their initial commercial presence. In the last five years, Carolyn Turner and Brian Davis have provided over fifty Alabama biotech companies with no-cost, in-depth technical assistance on overseas market opportunities.* Dr. Lane wrapped up her Tuscaloosa trip with a brief stop by Representative Bill Poole’s home office and thanked him for supporting innovation in Alabama with HB 609.
*NEW OFFERING | The AITC recently began offering graphic design services to clients
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