The 2017 Innovation Week Birmingham begins this Friday – August 18 through August 25 – and in anticipation of the week, the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) is highlighting sponsors and partners that help make Innovation Week Birmingham possible.
In addition to sponsoring Innovation Week, Protective Life Corp. has been an active supporter of Birmingham’s tech community. Matthew Kohler, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Protective Life, provided insight on why innovation is important to Birmingham’s ecosystem and how the company supports it.
BBA: How does your organization promote innovation in Birmingham?
Kohler: Protective has sponsored a large West Coast venture capital firm to travel to Birmingham for networking events and to meet with Birmingham investors, startups and other business and community leaders. Protective has also made a pledge to find ways to support local technology companies in order to help fuel the business environment for innovative businesses in the area. Recently, Protective served as a founding sponsor of Innovation Depot’s first Velocity Accelerator class. The company provides substantial support to UAB and Southern Research, which are both major drivers of innovation in Birmingham.
Scott Adams, Protective’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, and Mark Drew, Protective Executive Vice President and Chief Counsel, have both served as Board members of the Innovation Depot. Sekhar Pispati, a Senior Vice President on the Company’s Enterprise Risk Management team also serves as a mentor to Innovation Depot startups.
BBA: What aspects do you feel make Birmingham an innovative city?
Kohler: Birmingham leadership has shown the presence and vision to come together to create the infrastructure and support network needed to foster and nurture innovation and technology. A great example is Innovation Depot. The revitalization of Birmingham, with new small businesses popping up throughout the metro area, makes the city an environment that is ripe for development companies and the talent they need.
BBA: Why is it important to have a week that highlights innovation in Birmingham?
Kohler: Innovation Week will draw the attention of Birmingham residents and outsiders to the exciting developments in Birmingham and help accelerate the growth of new innovative startups in the area. Tech startups are beginning to seek homes outside the west coast areas that have typically been the incubator for innovative startups. Birmingham offers better cost of living and by attracting innovative talent more talent will come, increasing the pace of innovation and growth in Birmingham. Innovation Week will provide a forum for local and national leaders to highlight successes and failures, network and share ideas and best practices.