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The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an abundance of resources to facilitate entrepreneurship. Several of the assets available to university students to help start or grow an idea are the iLab (Innovation Lab), the Innovation Depot, and The Edge of Chaos. The iLab is an area located within the Innovation Depot, a start up incubator for the greater Birmingham area, where university students can grow ideas and collaborate with other young entrepreneurs. Lister Hill Library provides a creative space, The Edge of Chaos, for students and faculty to step beyond the core curriculum and explore topics that they may find interesting or essential in understanding topics necessary for academic growth. Seed funding sources available to UAB students include Velocity and the Clinton Global Initiate. Each of these is located through the Innovation Depot and the UAB Service Learning department, respectfully. The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers the UAB Research Foundation as an asset to students when dealing with technology transfer. The UAB Office for Undergraduate Research also helps in providing sponsorship and funding for newly developed initiatives while assisting in technology transfer. Grant writing, legal, and venture assistance is well established in the university’s ecosystem. The Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program provides direct support to students and training in how to write grants while also connecting students with faculty that are trained in such activities. The Center for Clinical and Translational Science also provides resources for students looking for assistance in research related topics when dealing with publications and planning clinical trials. All in all, UAB provides an ample amount of resources to help and encourage students to move ideas and services along their path to completion.

Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship


The UAB Innovation Lab (iLab) is a partnership between the UAB CSOB and Innovation Depot; it serves as a conduit between students and the entrepreneurial community. iLab opened its doors in Summer 2014 and serves as a resource for students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. The Lean Startup Model is used as the iLab common language. Programming offered by the iLab provides students with the hands-on learning needed for success in the workplace and is designed to support students as they incubate and accelerate their startups.

Entrepreneurship Minor

This experiential program is designed for students in any major other than business. It is designed to complement your core skills and knowledge from your chosen major. Upon completion you’ll be ready to launch a new venture around your passion, contribute to a team or growing company and think entrepreneurially regardless of your chosen career.

Business Research Certificate Program

Each session will include demonstrations of Sterne Library databases, print materials, and reputable web sites as well as effective search strategies and tips. You will also have the chance for hands-on research practice each week and multiple chances to win Sterne Library travel mugs.

Wicked Problem Case Competition

All the easy problems have been solved, leaving us with what Professor John Kao calls “Wicked Problems”, those highly complex problems whose potential solutions require creative, interdisciplinary thinking. The Dean of the School of Public Health will sponsor the Wicked Problem Case Competition to bring together some of the best teams of thinkers from UAB and in our community to provide solutions to a particular problem.  The winners of the competition will be recognized during National Public Health week on April 9th

Graduate Certificate in Technology, Commercialization, & Entrepreneurship

The graduate level Entrepreneurship Certificate, also known as the Graduate Certificate in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, is designed to expose students (MBA and non-MBA) and scientists to the business foundations of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.  The program is designed to blend knowledge and experiential learning to help move scientific discovery and inventions out of the lab and into the marketplace. The intended sequence of the courses takes the student from general awareness of issues associated with technology commercialization to running a growing technology-based business.  It is possible for a student to progress their own intellectual property through the course sequence. However, the courses may be taken in any sequence.

Alabama Launchpad

Alabama Launchpad promotes and rewards high-growth, innovative startups from across Alabama. The program is for new, innovative ventures in the seed or early-growth stages, or for existing businesses moving into a new high-growth market. Participants have unique opportunities to access sound business advice and critical startup capital. Alabama Launchpad gives early-stage start-ups momentum to take an idea from concept to reality. The proof of commercial relevance competition is for startups that need additional proof-of-concept work. Startups will compete for multiple proof-of-concept grants. Individual awards based on budgets submitted.

REV Birmingham

REV Birmingham (REV) revitalizes places and energizes business to create vibrancy in the City of Birmingham. REV is an economic development organization that stimulates business growth and improves quality of life in Birmingham’s City Center and its Neighborhood Commercial Centers. REV fuels commercial vitality through proactive business recruitment and retention activities, and by encouraging private and public investments that support economic growth citywide. REV’s initiatives generate positive results for partners, enhance tax revenue, generate and sustain jobs, increase tourism and positively influence perceptions about the City of Birmingham. REV is a private-public partnership that was formed in 2012 by the strategic merger of Operation New Birmingham and Main Street Birmingham.


CO.STARTERS is a platform to help communities grow local business. Every week for ten weeks, this facilitator-led program helps you examine your assumptions and test whether your beliefs about your business are right. As in our BIZ 1.0 Series, CO.STARTERS applies the lean business modeling methods popular among high-growth startups to businesses of all kinds. The concepts are more common to the high-growth technology community, but we see great value in this program for any creative business venture and it’s a different model than anything currently offered locally.

Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics (FEAST)

BHAM FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) is a public micro-granting supper during which diners vote to democratically fund projects that use design as a transformative tool to better our community. The grant amount to be awarded at the 2015 dinner is $2,500 plus the proceeds from ticket and bar sales at the event (estimated to be an additional $2,000). Unlike conventional grant programs, Bham FEAST brings people together for conversation centered on design and innovation. This will be Birmingham’s second FEAST, in conjunction with Design Week Birmingham.

The Education Scrimmage

The Education Scrimmage is a full-day, immersive event that will bring together those who care about making a positive impact in the community, teach them a new set of skills (design-thinking and rapid-prototyping), and then immediately apply them to real challenges being faced in the education sector. At the end of The Education Scrimmage, real education-focused organizations will walk away with a prototyped solution to their most pressing challenges, you will have a new skillset that you can apply elsewhere, and you will have connected with others who want to make our city better.

The Harbert Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The UAB Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HIIE) strives to be a first-in-class institution created to serve as the nexus for UAB innovation, entrepreneurial educational models, applied research, management of intellectual property and the entry point for industries seeking to collaborate with UAB, our world-class university. The Harbert Institute online.

Commercialization Accelerator

The new Commercialization Accelerator will be a key component of the university’s plan to attract innovators within the university, help them refine and develop their ideas and connect them to the city’s larger innovation ecosystem to grow and mature. Headed by Max Polec, the Commercialization Accelerator will host meet-ups, design sprints, pitch competitions, and a wide range of student and community resources focused around innovation and entrepreneurship.



Innohack is a competition that challenges participants to form innovative solutions to the biggest health care crises facing Alabama. Students and community members converge to form interdisciplinary teams from various backgrounds. Doctors, teachers, politicians, engineers, and members from every profession under the sun are represented in the competition. Think you're smarter than the rest? Think you're better than the best? Then put your mind to the test.

Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Coming in at #21 in total funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) among all universities, UAB has a substantial amount of resources (nearly $220 million from the NIH alone) for faculty to pursue innovation in a research context. Faculty are encouraged to pursue ideas and are frequently recognized for their innovative work both on-campus, by campus-wide publications such as UAB Magazine and the Reporter, and off, by news features at the local, regional, and national levels.

With Birmingham’s entrepreneurial landscape exploding, UAB has recently begun developing partnerships with leaders in the entrepreneurial community, as evidenced by the collaboration between the Innovation Depot (a local startup incubator) and the Collat School of Business to form the iLab, a student business incubator. These partnerships provide opportunities for both students and faculty to gain the tools needed to potentially launch their products into the market.

But herein lies the metaphorical albatross around our neck—the intellectual property (IP) rights of students and faculty, not just at UAB but across the entire University of Alabama system, are non-existent. Quoted from the University of Alabama System’s Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), “When University support makes the research effort possible or when it provides support for the development of a patentable invention, it is reasonable for the University to participate in the fruits of such development, including reimbursement for its costs.” IP rights reform is needed to ensure that both our students and faculty are encouraged to innovate and disseminate their innovations into market at large.

The Landscape Canvas

Related Links

University of Alabama, Birmingham

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