The 2017 Innovation Week Birmingham begins next week! The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) is a partner of Innovation Week Birmingham this year and strives to support innovation in the Magic City year-round. Read our Q&A with Greg Sheek, director of Launchpad Programs at EDPA, below.
BBA: How does your organization promote innovation in Birmingham?
Greg Sheek: The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama promotes innovation through its 11-year-old Alabama Launchpad program that helps high growth companies start, stay and grow in Alabama, while supporting, advocating and recognizing entrepreneurship statewide. Alabama Launchpad has three key offerings to help promote innovation in Birmingham. The offerings are its startup competition, its Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grant support and the annual EDPA Innovation Awards. There have been many Birmingham area entrepreneurs and startups helped and recognized through Alabama Launchpad.
BBA: What aspects do you feel make Birmingham an innovative city?
Sheek: There are so many ways in which Birmingham is an innovative city. It is hard to capture them all, but they include ground-breaking research at UAB and Southern Research; passionate entrepreneurs creating new startups at Innovation Depot and also through REV Birmingham’s Big Pitch; an amazing craft beer industry, and also the revitalization of areas such as Parkside, Woodlawn and Avondale.
BBA: Why is it important to have a week that highlights innovation in Birmingham?
Sheek: EDPA strongly believes in celebrating innovation as evidenced by its creation of the “imerge” statewide innovation event, which is the next generation of the annual innovation and entrepreneurship conference EDPA held for the past six years. It is an important part of Birmingham’s Innovation Week. Dedicating a week to celebrate innovation helps to inspire the next wave of innovation that will drive Alabama’s economy.