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HudsonAlpha, Huntsville Bioscience Companies Headline BIO Alabama Conference

1 Oct 2020 12:26 PM | Deleted user

With the biotechnology industry leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BIO Alabama will host industry thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and academics at the organization’s first conference in five years on Oct. 5-9. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and a number of resident associate companies will be “center-stage” during the four day virtual conference.

BIO Alabama – Alabama’s affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the preeminent national association for biotechnology companies – has assembled a stellar lineup from Alabama and across the country to address the industry’s most challenging issues and how our state can play pivotal roles in solutions and advancements. Among the topics on the agenda will be: Operation Warp Speed, COVID-19 related legislation, the strategic roadmap for the state’s biotechnology ecosystem, collaborative efforts to strengthen the state’s agricultural economy, diversity, equity and inclusion in the bioscience industry, and discoveries by researchers at Alabama’s leading academic centers.

"HudsonAlpha has been a longtime partner and leader for BIO Alabama and the biotechnology ecosystem in North Alabama continues to bloom with innovative companies,” said BIO Alabama Executive Director Sonia Robinson. “Our virtual conference is a great opportunity to connect with life science thought-leaders from around our state who are strengthening our industry for the future.”

BIO Alabama has carefully curated a speaker lineup of accomplished leaders in academic research, education and business. HudsonAlpha and Huntsville contribute greatly to the state’s work in the biosciences and are well-represented in the BIO Alabama agenda. HudsonAlpha Faculty Investigator Jeremy Schmutz will lead a panel discussion that includes Josh Clevinger, Ph.D., also of HudsonAlpha, Brian Hardin with Alabama Farmers Federation, Kyle Bridgeforth of Bridgeforth Farms and Kira Bowen, Ph.D., from Auburn University. The group will discuss their collective efforts in developing next generation crops for diversifying and strengthening Alabama’s agricultural economy. The panel will provide an early view into the way people from across the state and across industries are leveraging HudsonAlpha’s expertise in genomics research to improve crops for Alabama farmers and ultimately benefit businesses and consumers in the state.

Carter Wells, HudsonAlpha’s Vice President for Economic Development and past Chairman of BIO Alabama, will lead a fireside chat with Andrew Burnett, Health Legislative Assistant for Senator Richard Shelby. Burnett is the point person for the state’s senior Senator for federal appropriations and policy on a variety of health-related topics, including coronavirus relief, clinical trials, diagnostic testing and the development of new medications and therapies. Also, Burnett works with biotech entrepreneurs and veterans of bioscience businesses as they grow and flourish in Alabama.

As BIO Alabama’s Vice-Chairwoman and HudsonAlpha’s Director of Recruitment, Amy Sturdivant will help deliver the BIO Alabama’s strategic plan and vision forward. The address concludes a multi-year listening tour and focus-group exercises to develop a strategic roadmap for the industry. Sturdivant will join BIO Alabama Executive Director Sonia Robinson and Chairman Blair King in delivering the report to BIO Alabama constituents.

“Growing and supporting entrepreneurial efforts in the biotech industry have translated to success stories and expanding jobs in the sector,” said Sturdivant. “Organizations across the state are contributing and collaborating; providing resources for capital, mentoring, workforce training, and more. The BIO Alabama strategic plan lays out lessons learned and opportunities we will seek together.”

Alex Cate, Business Retention and Expansion Specialist for HudsonAlpha, will join panelists from the state’s premier incubators and accelerators for a candid conversation on business growth and technology commercialization. Since 2008, HudsonAlpha has grown from five resident companies to more than 45 companies on its campus today. This remarkable progress is due in large part to HudsonAlpha’s unique model for business incubation. HudsonAlpha’s mission to grow the life science industry in North Alabama will be on full display during the conference.

Additionally, several North Alabama-based and HudsonAlpha resident companies will be featured at the conference:

-          Acclinate Genetics’ Dr. Delmonize Smith and Tiffany Jordan-Whitlow will host panel discussions on diversity in clinical trials and research, as well as tactics for closing the equity gap in rural healthcare.

-          Rebecca Vaught from Van Heron Labs will lead a session on entrepreneurship, the importance of supporting early-stage entrepreneurs and the key elements of developing a strong technology and innovation ecosystem.

-          The Written Science’s Rachel Lane will host a “Ted Talk” conversation with Dr. Erik Schwiebert on the advantages of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants that can be sources of early capital funding for biotechnology companies.

-          In July 2020, Governor Kay Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission to review and develop recommendations for growing Alabama’s innovation ecosystem and tech-related industries. GeneCapture’s Peggy Sammon will join Chairman of House Ways and Means Education Committee Chair, Rep. Bill Poole (District 63, Tuscaloosa County), Minority Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives, Rep.Anthony Daniels (District 53, Madison County) and Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Greg Reed (District 5, Walker, Fayette, Winston, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties) in outlining the commission’s objectives and discussing how smart policy can enhance Alabama’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The BIO Alabama Annual Conference will take place Oct. 5-9 virtually. Registration is open at



About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and fosters more than 40 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit

About BIO Alabama: BIO Alabama is the lead advocate for growth in the biosciences related industries throughout Alabama. We represent the state on a regional, national and international stage, promoting the intellectual and innovative capital that make our state a premier place to invest, start, and grow in bioscience. BIO Alabama is the state partner of the life sciences trade organization Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Our members consist of bioscience organizations, universities, research facilities, and service partners. Learn more at Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram @bioalabama.

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