BOLD funding helps lure Acclinate to City of Birmingham

Birmingham, Ala. — As companies across the globe tiptoed through the COVID-19 era and prayed the economy would hold, digital health company Acclinate made a BOLD move.

In December 2020, the company announced its headquarters had moved from Huntsville to Birmingham.

Acclinate’s move did not just happen by accident. The Birmingham Business Alliance, which recruited the company, credits the city of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity and its innovative BOLD program.

The BOLD program — short for Building Opportunities for Lasting Development — has provided $2.5 million in funding over three years to grow the local economy and expand opportunity for businesses and residents across the city.

The Alliance received BOLD funding and used it to help lure Acclinate to the Magic City.

It is a win for Birmingham in a number of ways. Acclinate’s arrival bolsters the city’s efforts to build a hub for healthcare technology. The company’s relocation has also generated new jobs for Birmingham, innovative partnerships with local institutions, and health benefits for residents.

Among other things, Acclinate has worked with UAB’s School of Public Health on a grant to provide COVID testing in underserved communities; launched a campaign with the Jefferson County Department of Health and Clergy United to promote COVID vaccinations; and partnered with Miles College on an initiative to help students and faculty make informed choices about their health.

It’s all part of the company’s core mission, which is to diversify genomic research and clinical trials. Acclinate’s #NOWINCLUDED platform was created to educate, engage and empower minority communities to take control of their health. Acclinate is working to disrupt current clinical trial recruitment by making it relational rather than transactional. It works with pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations, academic research centers and others to increase diversity in medical research.

The company was founded at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville in 2018, and it still maintains a presence there. But moving the company’s base to Birmingham made sense.

“Birmingham has a focus on health care and technology and an intentional focus on creating and growing minority businesses,” said Tiffany Whitlow, co-founder and chief development officer of Acclinate. “We fit into all three of those focus areas and knew the Birmingham ecosystem would be the best place for us as a next step to grow our business. Birmingham has done an excellent job repurposing itself and has truly shown the support that is essential for minority business growth.”

The Birmingham Business Alliance could not agree more. With support from the city’s BOLD program, the Alliance pursued Acclinate for months before winning the headquarters for the Magic City.

“The Alliance worked with Acclinate for a year before it decided to move its headquarters to Birmingham,” said Victor Brown, the Alliance’s vice president of Business Development. “Our team made introductions, arranged meetings with customers and potential funders, built awareness about Acclinate among influencers throughout the city, and made a strong case for Birmingham as an emerging market for this minority-owned, technology-based, life sciences startup. We worked with our partners at BioAlabama, Birmingham Bound, Bronze Valley and others to attract the company, and continue to work with the company to provide resources to help it grow here.”

Since moving to Birmingham, Acclinate has already made two local hires, including a local digital marketing specialist and a health informatics analyst, the latter hired through a Birmingham Black Techie career event.

The company occupies 3,000 square feet in The Denham Building and is poised for growth with its proximity and partnerships with UAB.

“We are uniquely positioned to help connect Birmingham’s robust healthcare community to the majority minority community that already exists within the city,” Mrs. Whitlow said. “I am hopeful that Acclinate will have a positive impact on the lives of individuals in Birmingham and build a significant and sustainable network here. To us, it’s all about people.”