Lonnie McMillian wins Entrepreneur Champion of the Year award

Huntsville, Ala. — HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology co-founder Lonnie McMillian was named Entrepreneur Champion of the Year by the Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship. Sue Whitehead, one of McMillian’s daughters, accepted the award today on his, and his family’s behalf at the Catalyst Center Entrepreneur Awards luncheon in Huntsville, Ala., which celebrates entrepreneurs who have the skill, courage and determination to create a business out of an idea.

Lonnie McMillian

McMillian is an engineer by training. In 1986, he co-founded ADTRAN, today a leading global provider of networking and communications equipment. By the 1990s, he turned his attention to biotechnology and immersed himself in the life sciences. Along the way, he sought out Jim Hudson and the idea of a nonprofit institute for biotechnology began to percolate.

“We’re both entrepreneurs and we believe that the commercial sector is the way to get things to market,” said Jim Hudson, HudsonAlpha co-founder. “Lonnie’s idea of creating a nonprofit institute where scientists and for-profit companies and educators worked under one roof, was pure innovation.”

McMillian’s support of life sciences extends beyond the creation of HudsonAlpha. He also was instrumental in establishing local biotech companies Shearwater Polymers, Applied Genomics, Diatherix, EGEN, Kailos Genetics, Serina Therapeutics,

Catalyst Entrepreneur Awards Luncheon

Conversant Bio, iCubate and iRepertoire. He has mentored countless aspiring entrepreneurs beyond biotech and provided both financial and intellectual support for the continued growth of the region he has called home for decades.

As a philanthropist, McMillian’s nonprofit Alpha Foundation has honored a long-standing commitment to Huntsville’s economic development and growth.

“Lonnie has not only been a mentor for me but the entire biotech and life sciences community in Huntsville,” said Brian Pollock, co-founder and CEO of Kailos Genetics. “He has set the benchmark with his timeless vision for everyone in our community to strive toward. This honor is well deserved.”

“The impact by Lonnie on entrepreneurs within HudsonAlpha and throughout Alabama is tremendous,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development at HudsonAlpha. “Lonnie’s leadership, generosity and humility though, are qualities that resonate with me and so many others that are privileged to know him.”

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit

Media Contact:
Margetta Thomas