A technology business incubator at the University of Alabama in Huntsville is one step closer to reality after receiving a $500,000 grant from the Obama administration.
Jay Williams, assistant secretary for economic development for the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), visited the college Monday to talk about the $9 million Innovation to Invention Center (I2C), which will provide office and lab space to startups from the university and surrounding 15-county region.
The $500,000 grant is the second award from EDA, which last year invested $3 million in the 45,000-square-foot I2C building.
“This is unique,” Williams said. “We make these investments across the country. These are very competitive investments, so I think it speaks volumes to the level of collaboration here.”
The $500,000 grant will allow the I2C to hire personnel and implement policies and procedures for its operation before construction starts in about a year. UAH Architect Larrell Hughes said the facility should be finished about two years after buildout begins between Wilson Hall and the Business Administration Building facing Sparkman Drive.
UAH President Robert Altenkirch said the incubator is about 75 percent covered through funding from the city, county, state and EDA.
“We thought about this for a while and put it together to sort of mine the intellectual capital that’s in Huntsville, mostly at the Arsenal and in the Research Park and then also the spinout companies from the university,” he said. “These companies will link up with business faculty, engineering faculty, science faculty, specialized equipment that we have on campus, meeting spaces and also student projects.”
UAH will use the EDA funding toward the Virtual Proof of Concept Center (POCC): The Growth & Acceleration of Products (GAP) Project to begin creating the functions that will be housed in the I2C.
Once the project is complete, startups at the incubator will reside there for three to five years before they are mature enough to launch on their own.
“The President believes that this is the proper role to invest early, to help mitigate some of the risk, to help clear some of the barriers because ultimately this is about attracting that private investment,” Williams said. “We know that there are going to be hundreds of jobs created from the immediate investment and it’s going to be leveraged multiple times over.”
February 23, 2016