UAH technology business incubator receives millions in grant funds, Commerce Department support

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- The University of Alabama in Huntsville has earned $3.5 million in grant funds toward construction and staffing of its planned technology business incubator, the Innovation to Invention Center.

Jay Williams, U.S. Department of Commerce assistant secretary for economic development, visited the UAH campus Monday. Williams said UAH won the grant funds in a highly competitive process.

“It is exceptionally competitive,” he said. “We have a very limited amount of grant funding, $10 million of grant funding. We get applications from across the country, that exceed five times that, five-six times that, or even more. So for this university to be awarded, speaks volumes to the level of commitment, the talent, the level of collaboration that exists here.”

The $9 million incubator project is slated to be 45,000 square feet and will provide support, lab and office space for up to 40 companies.

The incubator is currently in the approval phase, with design work to follow.

Construction is expected to begin in about a year, with the building’s completion two years after that, UAH said.

Williams said UAH’s track record helps mark the project for future success.

“One of the markers is the level of collaboration that has already existed here,” he said. “One of the markers is the fact that there have already been significant private investment here, this university, this community has continued to grow.”

Ray Vaughn, UAH vice president of research, said the incubator’s mission will be to take good ideas and provide the support and facilities necessary to help develop successful companies.

“What we want to do is foster the high-tech science, high-tech engineering that’s coming out of the Arsenal and coming out of UAH, and coming out of this community and foster that into companies that are successful and can grow in Huntsville,” he said.

Williams said President Obama believes government policy and investment can help facilitate job creation.