We wanted to make sure we are empowering our young people through workforce development. “Almost every major company has been part of building this partnership,” Watts says. ’” UAB answered that question in late 2016, when it launched internet speeds of 100 gigabits per second, boosting available bandwidth on campus by 10 times the previous capability and up to 10,000 times many standard home internet speeds.
“We recognized the importance of technology-based businesses that can emerge from newly developed technology,” Hilson says.“With leaders like UAB and Southern Research, we have a strong climate for organically grown business establishment.Innovation Depot is ranked number one as a business incubator, and we have a number of locally developed technology-based businesses.“We wanted to build a brand around Innovate Birmingham,” Watts says.“Revitalization of downtown is part of that initiative.“Birmingham has the opportunity to define itself uniquely as a high-tech growth city, but with attributes unique to our city,” Crutchfield says.Watts has plenty on his plate leading Alabama’s largest single employer, but he doubled down on his commitment to the cause when asked to serve a second term as chairman of the project to continue to usher it to success.“As we developed the plan, we realized it would need the depth and breadth of firepower at UAB,” Watts says. It means a lot to technology companies to have the right bandwidth, the right infrastructure, the right capabilities and workforce right here.They can walk in, sit down, plug in and go to work.” Robert Crutchfield, executive director of Innovate Birmingham, had been involved with development initiatives for the city for several years as a senior partner with Harbert Growth Partners, a venture capital firm.That’s what Bob (Crutchfield) has done in leading and driving the effort.” “One of the beautiful things about Birmingham is we have a very large urban core — from Avondale to Southside and Parkside to uptown, it’s a very diverse urban core,” Crutchfield says.“As I look at the landscape over the next five years, I see a good mixture of high-growth technology companies.” He sees growth being led by entrepreneurs such as David Gray, CEO of Daxko; Tony Summerville, CEO of Fleetio, and Bill Smith, CEO of Shipt.