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UA and Tuscaloosa continue shared goal of growing businesses

Culverhouse College of Business

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — New arrangements between the University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa's business incubator are expected to help entrepreneurs and generate new jobs, officials said.

The Bama Technology Incubator, which features on-campus support for startup companies, will now be known as Edge Labs, The Tuscaloosa News reported .

Officials say the name change is significant, as it will emphasize the connection between Edge Labs on the northern end of UA's campus and the Edge, an off-campus business incubator.

The Edge opened in February as a collaboration between UA, the city of Tuscaloosa and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

"The goal of this change is to further align the ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship on the UA campus and in the Tuscaloosa area," Russell Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development, said in a news release.

Edge Labs offers laboratories and equipment needed by new businesses. It also provides technical infrastructure that helps UA faculty, researchers and students test prototypes that can translate into products, the Tuscaloosa newspaper reported.

"Among the strategic goals of the University of Alabama is improving the impact of activities that positively affect regional economic development," UA President Stuart Bell said. "This restructuring of our resources will go a long way toward meeting that shared goal."

Plans calls for the university's Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute to integrate the Edge Labs into resources that will support new and established business growth in the Tuscaloosa area.

"An organization that is renting office space in the Edge and needs technical facilities and assistance may choose to utilize those state-of-the-art laboratory spaces and resources found in Edge Labs," said Theresa Welbourne, executive director of Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute. "Or, researchers in Edge Labs may discover that they have a viable product on their hands and can leverage the mentoring and networking at the Edge to form a new enterprise."

Welbourne said the idea is to connect people at the Edge with others at Edge Labs.

"There will now be a pipeline that directly connects the new and established entrepreneurs and business advisers at the Edge with the technical experts who are in place at Edge Labs," she said.

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