BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Imagine no longer having to worry about your cellular phone battery becoming drained, thanks to a new device that allows it to recharge wirelessly without the need to plug in to a power outlet.
An Alabama start-up company’s product would harvest radio frequency waves and convert them into electricity that can be used to charge a cellular phone.
e-Electricity, a Tuscaloosa-based company, was one of four companies funded by the Alabama Launchpad program on Friday, giving the company a $23,500 grant in a competition designed to help new companies grow and gain momentum. The program is organized by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
The Alabama Launchpad program awarded more than $128,500 to innovative startup companies last week from Auburn, Bessemer, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. More than 27 start-up companies signed up for the competition five months ago. The field was narrowed down to 10 companies in June.
“The state must invest resources to help entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers start new companies that create jobs for Alabamians,” said Governor Robert Bentley.
‘WE WANT TO CREATE THINGS’
Gov. Bentley said it is important that we use the knowledge we have in this state to develop products that then develop into companies that expand and hire people. “We don’t want to just import things. We want to create things,” he said. “You are a vital part of what we are trying to accomplish.”
Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said it is important that Alabama has a leader “who recognizes the value of innovation and leadership as well as the need to keep our talent in Alabama.”
Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard said Alabama Launchpad “is a true partnership that brings public and private entities together to support high-growth entrepreneurship.” He said the state’s long-term economic development plan, Accelerate Alabama, prompted universities across the state to update their technology roadmaps.
“This collaboration will position Alabama to attract large scale research projects,” he said.
Chris Giattina, CEO of BLOX., said winning the Alabama Launchpad competition is a tremendous boost for his company, which has been officially in existence for three years but spent three additional years in research and development.
The company builds health care facilities such as hospital rooms and hospital bed panels more quickly and efficiently by constructing them in modular units.
Giattina said $50,000 will help the company get to the next level. BLOX Inc. now has 25 employees and has just opened a new plant in Bessemer.
Alabama Chai, a Birmingham-based company that plans to sell micro-brewed organic tea to grocery stores, cafes, restaurants and other venues, received $30,000, and Heartlife Technology, an Auburn company that plans to replace the most expensive components of automated external defibrillators with smartphones, received $25,000.
Started seven years ago, the Alabama Launchpad program is financed by business, the state of Alabama and seven universities.
University partners include:
• Alabama State University
• Auburn University
• The University of Alabama
• University of Alabama at Birmingham
• University of Alabama in Huntsville
• University of South Alabama
Alabama Launchpad provides unique opportunities to obtain startup capital, receive expert guidance, and establish working relationships within the business, academic, and investment capital communities. Since its inception, a total of 27 companies have been funded, splitting more than $1.3 million. Registration for a new round of the competition begins Oct. 21.
EDPA President Bill Taylor said the competition is important because it helps new companies spread knowledge important to improving the world.