Innovation Week partner spotlight on Southern Research

Art Tipton, President and CEO of Southern Research

The Birmingham Business Alliance is partnering with several organizations for Innovation Week Birmingham 2017 that work to highlight and celebrate innovation throughout the year. Each week leading up to Innovation Week, beginning August 18, we will spotlight what each sponsor and partner of 2017 Innovation Week Birmingham is doing to support innovation and technology in the Magic City.

World renowned Southern Research is a partner for 2017 Innovation Week Birmingham. Art Tipton, president and CEO of Southern Research, talked with the BBA about why the cutting-edge research facility is a technological resource in the region and why Innovation Week is beneficial for the city of Birmingham.

BBA: How does your organization promote innovation in Birmingham?

Tipton: For over 75 years, the scientists and engineers of Southern Research (SR) have had a significant impact on the local, state, national and global scene. Our more recent innovative efforts in the fields of energy storage, Zika vaccine research, drug discovery, solar energy and technologies to support space travel are just some examples of how SR promotes innovation. We are particularly proud of our seven marketed oncology drugs discovered at SR and the impact these drugs are having on patients in Birmingham and around the world. We are facing head-on some of the world’s hardest problems – and solving them. Our success requires new approaches to understand problems coupled with the people and innovation to solve them.

BBA: What aspects do you feel make Birmingham an innovative city? 

Advances in Zika Virus Research Seminar at Southern Research during last year’s Birmingham Innovation Week.

Tipton: There are a combination of factors that make Birmingham innovative. We have a history in manufacturing, and that manufacturing mindset is consistent with continual improvement and efficiency driven by innovation. We also have a rich history of immigrants and inclusion and openness to new ideas. Our ecosystem includes a wealth of external funding in R&D, most notably at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). We are rediscovering urban living and the increased collisions that result from people interacting over food or coffee.  And we are not a city set in our ways – from startups, to a friendly business climate, to great networking groups, we don’t have a lot of bad habits set from decades of doing things the same way!  After living elsewhere, I continue to be amazed at the truth of southern hospitality, and the willingness of people in our business community to help each other.

BBA: Why is it important to have a week that highlights innovation in Birmingham?

Tipton: It’s important to showcase our city! Innovation Week is a great opportunity to recognize the people and companies that help make Birmingham great. Our community is comprised of smart, hardworking, talented people who are doing innovative things every day. Having a week to highlight all that is happening in Birmingham to create jobs, attract investment, celebrate our R&D and enhance our startup culture is an important piece of promoting our city not only to those who live here, but others around the country who may seek to do business in Birmingham. We have a lot to be proud of, and Innovation Week is a great way to further our city’s momentum.

Be sure to check out the 2017 Innovation Week calendar and don’t miss the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on Monday, August 21, hosted by Southern Research, as well as its panel discussion on Solar Energy Technologies on August 24, followed by the BBA’s Business@Sunset, presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union and hosted by Southern Research. 

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