By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The initiative, patterned after a pilot program Launch Tennessee started with Life Science Tennessee, is designed to capitalize on Tennessee’s robust energy resources by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry experts.
“The Business Council was created to foster the growth of our state’s advanced energy technologies, companies and jobs,” said Cortney Piper, TAEBC Vice President. “Partnering with LaunchTN in an effort focused on entrepreneurs and start-ups is a win-win for both organizations.”
Tennessee has a rich history in energy, starting with the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Today, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory, and Tennessee is recognized as a leader in materials and other research that are helping reduce consumption.
Since its creation several years ago, TAEBC has issued three significant reports – an inventory of these assets, a roadmap, and an economic impact report. The latter documented the significant number of jobs tied to the industry – about 325,000, the impact on the state’s gross domestic product – $33.4 billion, and the contribution to tax collections – more than $820 million annually.
“We have an opportunity to further expand these high-wage jobs through expansion of existing companies and creation of new ones that will be enhanced through our partnership with LaunchTN,” Piper said.
The model for both TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network and the two-year old Life Science Mentor Network is San Diego’s nationally-recognized CONNECT – Springboard program. It utilizes sector savvy, seasoned mentors to guide participating companies through a process that helps fine-tune specific areas of the start-up’s investor pitch.
Thus far, nine companies have signed-up to participate in the Life Science program with one already graduating. Even more significant is the number of mentors who are involved. It is almost 50.
“Our Energy Mentor Network will follow the same process – pairing mentors with new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions,” Piper said. “We want quality start-ups that will succeed. After completing the program, these newcos will have an investable pitch, a solid business model, and a plan to establish traction.”
Because it is a member-driven organization like Life Science Tennessee, TAEBC will also provide unique access to industry assets, networking opportunities with Business Council members and partners, and opportunities to participate in LaunchTN programming. The mentor network will use a video conference service to engage and connect mentors and entrepreneurs across the State of Tennessee when in person meetings are not possible.
“An important part of our success will be our ability to recruit well-qualified mentors,” Piper said. Those interested in becoming a mentor should click here to apply. Entrepreneurs interested in being considered for the program can apply here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Editor of teknovation.biz is Past President of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and a Board Member Emeritus of Launch Tennessee.)