Launchpad offers $100,000 for Shoals startups

September 14, 2016

SHEFFIELD — The Alabama Launchpad program is stationing a regional pod in the Shoals that will provide $100,000 to local startups.

The Shoals is the first regional site for Alabama Launchpad, a decade-old program that supports entrepreneurship in the state.

The program hosts a statewide competition, but Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and local officials announced Tuesday the formation of the Shoals Alabama Launchpad that is specific to this area.

Shoals Launchpad includes a share of a $100,000 award to startups that will be selected after a final pitch event on Feb. 21.

The application process includes a video pitch and business plan, said Angela Wier, vice president for the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. From there, judges will select startups to make live pitches for a share of the funding.

“This is our pilot program,” Wier said. “We’d like to have many more across the state.”

Those interested can apply online at The deadline to enter is Oct. 17.

The development partnership agreed with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce to help match local funding toward the regional project.

The University of North Alabama College of Business and Shoals Entrepreneurial Center also are partners in the endeavor.

Created in 2006, the Alabama Launchpad program has provided $2.4 million to startups, Wier said. The program also helps sponsor federal grant-writing workshops, the Alabama Innovation Awards, and Alabama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference.

She said Shoals leaders were helpful and enthusiastic about the idea of a regional program.

“We have been impressed by the communication, collaboration and planning among the partners, and we are humbled to have the opportunity to participate with and learn from the Shoals team,” Wier said.

She believes having a regional Launchpad will provide an incentive for a startup to join.

“If startups could just travel a few miles to participate, that would be easier than traveling 90 miles or so,” Wier said.

UNA President Kenneth Kitts said assisting startups is a focus of the College of Business.

“With events like Shoals Idea Audition, Shoals Big Idea Competition, 3 Day Startup and now Launchpad, we’re establishing this region and this university as a place to be for entrepreneurs, and that’s a win-win for everyone,” Kitts said.

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