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  • Writer's pictureAlex Nelson

Innovate Alabama and Stanford's Hoover Institution partner to drive technology and innovation

The drive to innovate can bring together aligned interests no matter the distance. Although separated by more than 2,100 miles, the Alabama Innovation Commission and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University have partnered to bolster Alabama’s investment in technology and innovation.

Less than six months have passed since the Alabama Innovation Commission was formed, but the 15-member group has already begun making strides to strengthen the state’s standing as a tech-friendly destination for start-ups and existing businesses in the technology sector.

The partnership focuses on leveraging the educational, technical, and professional assets of the Hoover Institution to assist the Alabama Innovation Commission in increasing recruitment and retention of tech companies, developing statewide innovation hubs, and promoting entrepreneurial growth.

The commission, also known as Innovate Alabama, has an all-star roster of members and advisors. Former United States Secretary of State and current director of the Hoover Institution, Condoleezza Rice, serves as a commission advisory board member. Rice, a native Alabamian, has played a key role in cementing the partnership.

“The Hoover Institution is proud to partner with the Alabama Innovation Commission to help develop strategies that will create more economic opportunities for the state,” said Rice in an official statement announcing the joint venture. “Through this partnership, we will be able to bring our research and expertise to identify strategies that maximize the state’s strengths and assets.”

Developing policies that support the state’s goal of retaining homegrown talent, while also attracting talent from outside the state, is a key component of the commission’s work. To that end, Governor Kay Ivey has appointed several state elected officials to the commission. Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) serves as chair of the commission, and Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) is the commission’s vice-chair.

Commission members also include Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier (D-Selma) and Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika). Former state representative and current Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield serves on the commission’s advisory council as well.

“I am confident that the work that the Alabama Innovation Commission and the Hoover Institution will produce through this partnership will have a profound impact on the future economic trajectory of our state,” said Poole. “Starting with the leadership of Governor Kay Ivey and the Commission’s efforts, we must all work together on initiatives like this to create smart solutions that will continue to make Alabama an attractive state for business investment and job creation. Further, it is essential to our economic future that our students and citizens have career pathways right here in Alabama to the jobs of the future. In my opinion, the work of this Commission, in collaboration with the Hoover Institution, presents an important and critical opportunity to enhance our state’s competitive position in terms of these economic sectors.”

Vice-chair Reed also weighed in on the significance of the historic partnership, adding, “The continued momentum resulting from the Hoover Institution partnership is a prime example of the creative ideas and initiatives already generated by the Commission. While Alabama has a strong foundation of existing industries, innovation extends to all sectors of the economy where Alabama has traditionally been a leader including advanced manufacturing. These intentional collaboration efforts will further elevate our state as a driving force of innovation.”

Leading the charge at Innovate Alabama as president is Zeke Smith, current executive vice president of external affairs at Alabama Power Company.

“This partnership with the Hoover Institution will help accelerate our state’s focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Developing strategic partnerships and leveraging outside investments has proven to be a successful approach in building a policy portfolio and determining best practices. We look forward to working with the Hoover Institution to identify ways we can foster growth and strengthen our state,” said Smith.

The Hoover Institution is “a public policy think tank that seeks to improve the human condition by advancing ideas that promote economic opportunity and prosperity, while securing and safeguarding peace for America and all mankind.”

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