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Birmingham Business Journal: Josh Carpenter looks to boost IP and job growth at Southern Research

August 23, 2021

A familiar name took over as president and CEO of Southern Research earlier this year.

Josh Carpenter, the former director of innovation and economic opportunity for the city of Birmingham, took the reins at Southern Research on June 1.

After getting acclimated, Carpenter has established several goals to guide the nonprofit.

He said he wants to draw on his experience with job creation in the public sector and apply it to the scientists at Southern Research to create more spinoff companies, leading to more economic development.

“When I think job creation at Southern Research, I think of it in a couple of buckets. Obviously we have 400 employees, so we have direct jobs that we create. We have indirect jobs that we create in our supply chain, whether it’s collaborative research with UAB or working to provide contract-based research …,” Carpenter said. “So the idea is that we will work and our scientists will create in-house discoveries that can then be translated from ideas to innovation and from innovation to economic opportunity and economic growth.”

Another priority for Carpenter is to make improvements and additions to the Southern Research campus in Southside. He said he first wants to renovate the spaces and modernize the lab equipment to make room for new technologies, data and lab information management systems. This is to make sure the data and samples that are created can be analyzed and collected more easily, resulting in services being delivered more quickly.

Carpenter is looking to create a number of facilities as well.  He noted Southern Research has not built a new building on its  campus in Southside this century, and the new facilities will boost partnerships with UAB in key areas.

“Our major areas of focus are definitely going to be immunotherapy, immuno-oncology and emerging infectious diseases,” he said. “What we really believe is that if we do all that right, we can become a center for pandemic preparedness in Birmingham and Alabama, and that will enable us to not only serve our residents and ultimately serve patients more effectively in one of the country’s most diverse populations, but it will also help us grow jobs in our community.”

Carpenter is also committed to growing revenue from intellectual property by creating a cleaner process for patent development and then surrounding those patents with new companies and new venture capital.

“We want to be a platform into the private sector. We’re sort of one step into academia and one step in the private sector. We want to help translate those technologies and commercialize those technologies,” he  said.

“That means not just growing but it’s also a means of attracting the right talent. We want people who want to come into our doors and say, ‘Hey, I really want to push on patents, and my own goals are to create companies from the discoveries that I make.’”

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