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Reignite Alabama competition awards $150,000 to 4 promising startups

Dawn Azok

August 28, 2020

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Four Alabama businesses that have developed innovative ideas to combat challenges in the COVID-19 era have been awarded a share of $150,000 to bring their plans to life.

The businesses, with ideas that range from an exposure notification app for COVID-19 and other viruses to a new concept to promote safety in traffic stops, were part of the Reignite Alabama Response Pitch Competition put on by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

The contest was part of EDPA’s successful, long-running Alabama Launchpad program for startups, which has awarded more than $5 million over the past 14 years and is a major driver of the state’s innovation economy.

“We’re all living through a really, really difficult and different time in American and global history,” Dennis Leonard, EDPA’s Innovation Consultant, said in opening the competition’s finale on Thursday.

“So, the best way we knew how to deal with this was turn to our startup community and our great entrepreneurs and small business leaders throughout the state to come up with a response to help spur and reignite our economy in Alabama.”

Reignite Alabama fielded 41 applications and featured a 17-member judging panel, which selected winners in four challenge sectors: Lifestyle, Healthcare, Education and Industrial/Manufacturing. They each won $37,500 to invest in their concepts.


Unlike the traditional Launchpad competition, there was no live in-person audience for the finale and social distancing measures were observed as it was live-streamed from EDPA headquarters in downtown Birmingham.

A replay of the finale is available on the Alabama Launchpad Facebook page.

The Alabama Department of Commerce has long been a supporter of Alabama Launchpad, and the Reignite Alabama competition comes at an important time, said Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

“Now more than ever, we need the spark of innovative ideas to drive new growth and add resilience to our recovering economy,” said Secretary Canfield, who participated in the finale.

“This competition allows us to identify creative approaches and bright ideas from entrepreneurs on how we can accelerate that recovery, especially in sectors that are critical to the state’s future.”

Winners of Reignite Alabama included two firms from Birmingham and one each from Riverside and Huntsville.


Alabama Launchpad has funded a total of 98 startups, which have generated more than 700 jobs. The winners now have an estimated combined post-money valuation of more than $325 million.

The competition, which typically narrows the list of finalists in a multi-step process over a period of weeks or months, is in itself a valuable exercise for entrepreneurs, who receive advice and instruction from expert judges along the way.

Reignite Alabama was no different in this regard, with remarkable dedication shown by the judging panel, said EDPA President Greg Barker.

“Their expertise in our four sectors will help shape these entrepreneurs’ businesses as they move forward, even for those finalists who did not receive Launchpad funding,” he said.