Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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May 06, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Southeast Shoutouts | NCBiotech awarded $825,000 grant to help transitioning service members

The Fuel Accelerator invites companies with innovative solutions to Arkansas problems to Bentonville and connects them with companies in the region that can hire them.

From Research Triangle Park, NC:

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech) has been awarded an $825,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. For the next two-years, the organization will use the funds to increase access to job training, internships, and referrals across the state through the Military Outreach and Veterans Engagement (MOVE) initiative, launched in 2019 by the NCBiotech.

The initiative places transitioning service members who are separating from service, honorably discharged veterans, and military spouses into biopharma manufacturing training and internship programs, ultimately paving the way for full-time positions in the life sciences industry.

North Carolina has the third largest military footprint in the nation with about 130,000 active-duty service members. The state also has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of biopharmaceutical manufacturing plants – with the Research Triangle ranked as the top region in the country for biomanufacturing – requiring a qualified workforce across all levels of the industry.

Click here to learn more.

From Birmingham, AL:

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), in collaboration with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. and Innovate Alabama, has announced the successful completion of the inaugural “HBCU Innovation Internship Program” with a graduation ceremony held last week.

Hosted at EDPA, the event celebrated the achievements of six distinguished interns from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Alabama: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Miles College, Shelton State Community College, and Tuskegee University. The interns completed a rigorous 12-week program that began in January 2024, aimed at diversifying the tech talent pipeline and enhancing opportunities for underserved populations in the tech sector. 

During the graduation, the interns each presented their capstone projects, showcasing the innovative solutions and contributions they have made to their respective Alabama-based tech start-ups, accelerators, and incubators, including Techstars EnergyTech Accelerator, Prosper HealthTech Accelerator, Innovation Depot, HudsonAlpha AgTech Accelerator, Immediate, and Decatur-Morgan County E-Center. 

From Charlotte, NC:

At an event last week at the Knight Theater in Charlotte, the Truist Foundation celebrated the finalists for its Inspire Awards. The Foundation awarded a total of $600,000 in grant funding to seven U.S. nonprofits with a mission to empower entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Inspire Awards program was established in 2022 by the Foundation, and it collaborated with MIT Solve, an initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to find nonprofits with tech-enabled solutions for under-resourced small business owners.

Winning the top prize and $250,000 was Centro Community Partners, an Oakland, CA-based nonprofit that uplifts low-income women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color business owners through innovative solutions and strategic partnerships. It also captured another $75,000 by being selected as the crowd favorite.

More than 100 applicants from  32 states applied for the Inspire Awards.

From Bentonville, AR:

The idea behind the Fuel Accelerator is to invite companies with innovative solutions to Arkansas problems to Bentonville and connect them with companies in the region that can hire them. Along the way, this process can foster the perception of Northwest Arkansas as an innovation-friendly place — attracting more start-up companies.

Over a 10-week period, Startup Junkie matches enterprise-ready seed and growth-stage tech start-ups with key enterprise partners to accelerate the adoption of tangible technology solutions. There are three different sector-specific accelerators:

  • Fuel HealthTech that is tailored for start-ups pioneering breakthroughs in healthcare;
  • Fuel Cybersecurity that is designed exclusively for trailblazing start-ups in the realm of cybersecurity; and
  • Fuel AI/ML that is focused on start-ups pioneering artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

The first two programs are either already completed for the year or underway. The AI/ML program is accepting applications through June 14 at this link.

From Richmond, VA:

The Board of Directors of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) has unanimously selected Joe Benevento as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) after serving in those roles on an interim basis since September 2023. He was previously the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia since 2022.

Benevento began his career at Goldman Sachs and THL Partners and brings 20 years of business strategy and investment management experience across direct equity investing, business operations growth, and executive board advisory spanning early stage start-ups, small-/mid-size businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, Benevento was the Managing Director of a Richmond-based family-office investment firm that owns and builds mission-led, service driven growth businesses with a strong culture of innovation by partnering with dynamic founders and management teams.

From Asheville, NC:

Pine Gate Renewables has received a $650 million investment from two pension funds and an existing investor to expand its solar operations. The money is coming from Generate Capital, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and HESTA, an Australian pension fund for workers in the health and community services sector. Pine Gate said the new funding will finance an incremental 3 gigawatts of clean energy infrastructure by 2025.

According to this article from Business North Carolina, it’s the second investment in Pine Gate from San Francisco-based Generate Capital. In 2022, the firm invested $500 million in Pine Gate. The investment consists of $200 million in equity and a $300 million commitment to a long-term asset partnership for solar project financing.


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