Two Alabama-based companies and BioAlabama members – Acclinate and SiO2 Materials Science – have been recognized by Southeast Life Sciences as winners of the association’s AdvanSE Life Sciences Awards.
The regional AdvanSE conference recognized Acclinate for best initial funding, while SiO2 was honored for best strategic partnership.
This recognition further elevates Alabama’s growing bioscience sector, which during the COVID-19 pandemic has played an essential role in responding to the virus and health equity challenges surrounding it.
Acclinate, a digital health company founded in Huntsville, assists biopharmaceutical companies and research organizations to increase minority and ethnic participation in clinical trials and research.
“We are deeply humbled by the honor of being recognized by such a distinguished organization,” Tiffany Jordan, Acclinate co-founder and chief development officer, said of the company’s recognition for best initial funding. “We are passionate about this work yet understand that funding is a catalyst for an emerging, minority-owned company.”
Bronze Valley, a nonprofit tech accelerator founded in Birmingham and focused on supporting diverse, underrepresented and underestimated startups, recently added Acclinate to its investment portfolio, noting their shared mission for developing solutions for addressing health care disparities and increasing diversity in the technology startup arena.
“The current method of drug trials and biotech development does not properly take into account minorities and their health differences,” Jordan explained. “This can lead to drugs that don’t perform as expected when given to people of color, which can have a rippling effect on the overall health of the community. By addressing these issues and educating both trial participants and biotech researchers, this underrepresentation can hopefully be improved, leading to better and safer medication for everyone.”
Specific to COVID-19, Acclinate supports the Alabama Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities (CEAL), which is led by Dr. Mona Fouad and her team of experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center. UAB was awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health for outreach and engagement efforts in ethnic and racial minority communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Acclinate recently announced that it has opened a second office, in the Denham Building in Birmingham, in addition to its office at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.
SiO2, an Auburn-based materials science company, received the AdvanSE Life Sciences Award for best strategic partnership. As COVID-19 vaccines move into late-stage testing in the U.S., SiO2 recently received a federal contract to produce the vials for the forthcoming vaccine.
“As always, we feel humbled and honored to be recognized,” said Lawrence Ganti, SiO2 president and chief business officer. “We have been focused on helping to bring a solution to market which can help save the world one vial at a time.”
With significant funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), this summer SiO2 invested $63 million to expand and upgrade its packaging plant to increase production capacity for vials and syringes, as well as building a new injection molding facility nearby.
Ganti said that the DOD’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program has been a collaborative effort by various U.S. government agencies and private corporations, the funding and collaboration from which have changed the landscape of U.S. domestic medical supply in ways not seen in 50 years.
“We have hired more than 400 employees and supported the economic development of biotech in Alabama,” Ganti said. “We fully expect to continue to lead this development in the state as we bring more technological advancements and products to the world … from Alabama.”