Local innovator lends name and support to UAH’s proposed Invention to Innovation Center


Dorothy Davidson, pictured with UAH President Dr. Robert Altenkirch, is lending her name and her support to a new 45,000-square-foot business incubator that will provide office space, labs, and other essential business resources for inventors and entrepreneurs in the innovation process.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Over the course of a 60-year career that included building several businesses from the ground up, Dr. Dorothy Davidson has made a name for herself as a savvy businesswoman and a philanthropist. Now the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Davidson Technologies Inc. (DTI) is helping her fellow visionaries achieve their own professional goals with a $5 million gift to The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in support of the D.S. Davidson Invention to Innovation Center (I2C) business incubator.

In combination with funding from the state of Alabama, the Madison County Commission, and the City of Huntsville, along with financial support from the UAH Foundation and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, the 45,000-square-foot facility will be located on the university’s campus and will:

  • Provide space for start-ups, innovation teams, and corporate partners to work together in an environment conducive to collaboration
  • Identify and catalyze opportunities for start-ups and innovation from the inventions developed by UAH, federal research agencies on Redstone Arsenal, and the larger high-tech community
  • Build a regional innovation ecosystem linked by in-person and online mentoring and training programs and activities
  • Diversify the greater Huntsville regional industry base to reduce dependence on federal funding

The I2C will also take advantage of the university’s experience in technology commercialization.

My intention here was to do something for UAH in the business field that also supports technology, and so when the incubator came up, it was perfect.

Dorothy Davidson

"I’ve started businesses myself and I know how hard it is when you don’t have the support you need," she says. "Most people fail because, while they have the technological expertise, they don’t have the necessary business skills." In the case of the I2C, small-business owners will have the best of both worlds; the incubator will be physically connected to UAH’s College of Business and in close proximity to Cummings Research Park. "They won’t necessarily compete with the businesses in Huntsville, but they will be coming out with innovative ideas to improve what’s already here with help from the university," she says. "That will make the incubator an open door to creating small businesses, giving those with innovative ideas a place to go, get set up, and develop more technology."

The I2C is hardly the first recipient of the Davidsons’ largesse. Included among the many projects they have funded are the Davidson Center for the Arts at the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which pays homage to Alabama’s engineers and their role in the nation’s space program. Over the quarter-century that she has lived in Huntsville, Davidson has given her support to schools for underrepresented students and those with learning differences; programs that help empower and advocate on behalf of young girls; job training for teenagers in foster care; and scholarships for undergraduates in both the liberal arts and engineering.


Artistic rendering of the D.S. Davidson Invention to Innovation Center

Davidson’s attention has been directed toward children, helping people, or education. "My intention with regard to UAH was to do something in the business field that also supports technology, and so when the incubator came up, it was perfect." Moreover, as a longtime Alabama resident – and booster – she is confident that the I2C will raise the region’s and the state’s profile as a high-tech business hub capable of holding its own against any other high-tech research areas in the country. "Our Research Park already has a reputation as the second largest in the nation," she says, "and I think the incubator will make it number one."

Certainly the odds of Huntsville becoming the number-one research hub in the nation are dramatically higher now that Davidson has become involved. After all, her life is an example of defying expectations to redefine what’s possible. "I probably get it from my grandmother," says Davidson with a laugh. "She always said I could do whatever I set my mind to."



UAH Office of Development