HudsonAlpha Co-founder, Companies Receive 2014 Alabama Innovation Awards

IMG_6220Huntsville, Ala. — Lonnie S. McMillian, co-founder of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and ADTRAN Inc. was honored Thursday, Sept. 25, at the 2014 Alabama Innovation Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The recognition is the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. Accepting the award on McMillian’s behalf were his daughters Sue Whitehead and Emily Robertson.

McMillian demonstrates a career-long commitment to innovate, coupled with a measurable record of success that has contributed to Alabama’s progress and to its potential for future growth. He mentors startups and also received at least nine patents. He has earned the greatest respect for his integrity, generosity and humility exhibited throughout his life and career.

The 2014 Alabama Innovation Awards honored outstanding accomplishments of businesses, institutions and people who impact the state and its economy through innovation.

HudsonAlpha associate company Conversant Bio was recognized for Outstanding Product or Service. Accepting the award was Conversant CEO Marshall Schreeder. Conversant, launched in 2006, was noted for exceeding the standards for developing and producing an innovative product. Conversant’s co-founders recognized a need in the market for bio-specimen procurement that quickly provides quality tissue and blood samples to researchers.

Gwen Fewell, co-founder and chief commercial officer of HudsonAlpha associate TransOMIC Technologies Inc., was named the Outstanding Woman or Minority in Innovation. Fewell, a native of India, has been tenacious in raising capital to fund TransOMIC, launched in 2012 and offers more than 1.4 million gene-based products that allow researchers to perform large scale screenings at once to identify gene function in diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. The company employs 10 people with annual revenues of more than $1 million.

“It’s a great honor for HudsonAlpha to be so well recognized by the Alabama Launchpad Awards,” said HudsonAlpha President Rick Myers. “The recognition for Lonnie McMillian is well-deserved, and rewards from his innovative idea to combine research with companies in the same building is realized every day here at the Institute. We are thrilled that the companies at HudsonAlpha are thriving and that their work is being recognized around the state.”

Angela Wier, a vice president of EDPA, said the organization received 70 nominations for the award categories.

“The competition was really strong for 2014, and we would like to congratulate all of the winners on their success,” Wier said. “We were delighted to receive such an exceptionally high standard of entries, signifying the amazing level of talent, creativity and innovation in our state. Innovation occurs across all industries, fostering Alabama’s economy and creating jobs.”

The winners were vetted by a validation committee and chosen by a judge of six of Alabama’s top business leaders: Tom Stanton (Chairman) ADTRAN Inc.; Art Tipton, president and CEO, Southern Research Institute; Neill Wright, president and CEO, First Tuskegee Bank; Harris Morrissette, president, China Doll Rice and Beans, Inc.; Yolanda Sullivan, CEO of YWCA Central Alabama; and Billy L. Harbert, president and CEO, BL Harbert International LLC.

About the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama:  Now in its 23rd year, the nonprofit Partnership represents the private sector’s contribution to economic development in Alabama. Fully funded by 70 leading companies invested in the state’s long-term economic success, EDPA provides leadership and services that recruit new businesses to the state, retain existing businesses and renew Alabama’s economy by encouraging innovation both within existing industries and through the commercialization of new technologies.