“So, the best way we knew how to deal with this was turn to our startup community and our great entrepreneurs and small business leaders throughout the state to come up with a response to help spur and reignite our economy in Alabama.”
Reignite Alabama fielded 41 applications and featured a 17-member judging panel, which selected winners in four challenge sectors: Lifestyle, Healthcare, Education and Industrial/Manufacturing. They each won $37,500 to invest in their concepts.
‘SPARK OF INNOVATIVE IDEAS’
Unlike the traditional Launchpad competition, there was no live in-person audience for the finale and social distancing measures were observed as it was live-streamed from EDPA headquarters in downtown Birmingham.
A replay of the finale is available on the Alabama Launchpad Facebook page.
The Alabama Department of Commerce has long been a supporter of Alabama Launchpad, and the Reignite Alabama competition comes at an important time, said Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.
“Now more than ever, we need the spark of innovative ideas to drive new growth and add resilience to our recovering economy,” said Secretary Canfield, who participated in the finale.
“This competition allows us to identify creative approaches and bright ideas from entrepreneurs on how we can accelerate that recovery, especially in sectors that are critical to the state’s future.”
Winners of Reignite Alabama included two firms from Birmingham and one each from Riverside and Huntsville.
- Lifestyle: Taylor Peake and Emily Hart of Birmingham-based software developer MotionMobs have created a mobile-based anonymous notifications app for COVID-19 exposure, and future viruses. MotionMobs recently launched its GuideSafe app in partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Public Health and aims to expand the technology in other states.
- Healthcare: Obex Health/Satterfield Technologies, also of Birmingham and led by Forrest Satterfield, has developed 3D-printed, comfortable and reusable N95 face masks that improve fit and function.
- Education: SafeCopsStops, based in Riverside, is a concept founded by Mike Burrow to help motorists learn their legal rights, contact their loved ones and access witnesses during stops by law enforcement.
- Industrial/Manufacturing: Huntsville-based Seamly, led by Susan Spencer, is an app-based solution for customizing clothing patterns at scale for the custom tailoring industry.
Alabama Launchpad has funded a total of 98 startups, which have generated more than 700 jobs. The winners now have an estimated combined post-money valuation of more than $325 million.
The competition, which typically narrows the list of finalists in a multi-step process over a period of weeks or months, is in itself a valuable exercise for entrepreneurs, who receive advice and instruction from expert judges along the way.
Reignite Alabama was no different in this regard, with remarkable dedication shown by the judging panel, said EDPA President Greg Barker.
“Their expertise in our four sectors will help shape these entrepreneurs’ businesses as they move forward, even for those finalists who did not receive Launchpad funding,” he said.