Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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June 24, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Southeast Shoutouts | Governor allocates nearly $100 million in SSBCI 2.0 funding to Innovate Alabama

The Polk County, FL Sheriff’s Office has announced the creation of a new cybercrime unit focused on AI, while Tampa General Hospital is using AI to reduce the bureaucracy and elevate the patient experience.

From Montgomery, AL:

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced that Innovate Alabama is set to receive nearly $98 million to continue its support of Alabama small businesses, fueling what she described as “the state’s powerful ecosystem of entrepreneurs.’

The dual-component program, LendAL and InvestAL, will finance loan and venture capital initiatives intended to enhance lender and investor confidence in Alabama and infuse capital directly into the businesses of the state’s start-up founders and small business owners. The funding comes from the state’s allocation of federal funding under the “State Small Business Credit Initiative,” commonly referred to as SSBCI 2.0.

“As Alabama continues to signal that it’s open for business, it is crucial that we continue to contribute to the growth of the state’s economy through our small businesses. This is a sector that has played a pivotal role in defining Alabama’s history,” said Governor Ivey. “With the SSBCI program, we will demonstrate to both investors and business owners that Alabama represents a sound investment opportunity.”

The funding, the largest small business funding program the state has seen, has a primary mission to encourage and back private investments as opposed to solely filling a gap in the capital markets with public funds.

“The SSBCI program will be a catalyst for our state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, establishing an evergreen fund to improve access to capital for Alabama small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Innovate Alabama Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cynthia Crutchfield. “With the advent of this program, we’re welcoming a new era for entrepreneurs in Alabama. I’m eager to witness the lasting benefits of the investment in the state, including the stimulation of a self-sustaining, durable investment landscape.”

From Bartow, FL: 

The Polk County, FL Sheriff’s Office announced the creation of a new law enforcement unit focused on cybercrime related to artificial intelligence (AI). The new investigative unit was developed in partnership with Florida Polytechnic University, which will provide essential technical and research support.

“Modern law enforcement needs to stay ahead of the technological curve when it comes to preventing, fighting, and solving crime. With the incredible upside potential benefits of artificial intelligence, there is a downside: criminals will use the technology to commit crime,” said Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff. “This is not only an investigative unit – it is a holistic unit dedicated to vision in, discovery, and creativity. Its purpose is to use what we learn to keep the community safe. We are proud to partner with Florida Polytechnic University to benefit from their renowned expertise and human talent to help fight crime.”

There are several operational goals of the newly created unit:

  • Obtain and maintain cutting-edge training and tools to help identify AI-related crime and criminals.
  • Assist in criminal investigations involving the use of AI, including cyber harassment, identity theft, extortion, hate crimes, and other related cybercrimes.
  • Identify emerging AI technologies and leverage and/or combat the misuse of these technologies.
  • Systematically vet new AI investigative software for use in a law enforcement setting.
  • Provide ongoing updates on emerging AI technologies, methodologies, and trending AI incidents to law enforcement leadership.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of developing AI trends, techniques, tactics, and procedures of threat actors using AI technology, including extortion or blackmail trends.
  • Identify and analyze deepfake and AI-altered images/video/audio production technologies and methodologies used to mislead the public.
  • Identify federal, state, and local agency partnerships for investigating AI incidents. Implement best policies and practices related to criminal AI investigations.
  • Provide training and assistance in investigations related to AI (internal to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and to external partner agencies).

Click here to learn more.

From Durham, NC: 

There’s a new report issued by NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, and MDC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping Southern leaders, institutions, and communities with the necessary tools and strategies to advance equity and economic mobility in the U.S. South.

Titled “Strengthening North Carolina’s Rural Entrepreneurship Future: Rural Entrepreneur & Ecosystem Partner Perspectives,” the report includes an in-depth analysis and recommendations around rural entrepreneurship development. Together, with funding provided by Wells Fargo, NC IDEA and MDC have partnered to explore avenues to better support the needs of rural entrepreneurs across the state.

“Growing up in rural North Carolina, I’ve seen firsthand the huge potential for local entrepreneurs and the need for expanded resources,” said Brandy Bynum Dawson, Senior Program Director of Rural Prosperity and Investment at MDC. “Now, more than ever, it’s time to push for efforts that support and celebrate the value of rural entrepreneurship.”

To gain a comprehensive understanding of challenges and opportunities and explore ways to better support the needs of rural entrepreneurs across North Carolina, NC IDEA and MDC brought together rural entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them to document their unique experiences. Expanding access to broadband, unique place-based opportunities in agriculture and biotechnology, and the steadily increasing population size in many rural communities are timely indicators that now is an opportune time to invest in rural entrepreneurship.

“At a time when broadband access is improving and the ‘new normal’ has changed the way we work and live, the landscape of rural opportunity is evolving rapidly,” said Barry Ryan, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at NC IDEA. “Our state’s rural entrepreneurs and their supporting communities have shared a vision for building a more vibrant future for our state, and in this report, we have documented a playbook of the tools and resources they need to make that vision a reality.”

From Tampa, FL:

Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to reduce the bureaucracy and elevate the patient experience.

Through a partnership with Nuance finalized this month, more than 500 physicians affiliated with Tampa General will begin utilizing DAX Copilot to increase productivity. The ambient listening tool is used to securely capture a patient story, including details of symptoms, observations and experiences. With the help of AI, it automatically converts multi-party conversations into specialty-specific, clinical summaries in seconds.

“Simply put, documentation is necessary, but it’s a growing burden on all involved. At Tampa General Hospital, we’re not willing to settle for the status quo. We’re focused on pursuing innovative solutions to transform the way we deliver care,” said John Couris, President and CEO of TGH. “With the help of AI, we’re easing the burden of documentation on providers and in turn giving them the ability and the additional time to focus on our top priority — our patients. It’s initiatives like these that set Tampa General apart from the rest and contribute to the world-class care we deliver.”

According to this news release, the technology was made available for full integration into the Epic electronic health record (EHR) system earlier this year, making Tampa General one of the early adopters of this AI tool that has proven to support physicians while elevating patient care.

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