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PYA Ballard Innovation Award
March 14, 2021 | Kailyn Lamb

490 BioTech receives first “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” from PYA

PYA Ballard Innovation AwardBy Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

490 BioTech, a company focused on changing the way pharmaceutical drug testing is done, was named the first winner of the “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” during an awards event Friday morning at PYA headquarters.

Innovation Crossroads Cohort 2 alums Eonix, LLC and Ascend Manufacturing were awarded second ($10,000 in in-kind strategy support) and third place ($5,000 in in-kind strategy support) respectively.

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490 BioTech has developed bioluminescent technologies that enable new drugs to move more quickly through the pharmaceutical testing process. As first-prize winner, it receives a combination of $50,000 in capital and in-kind services from PYA.

Founded in 2011, 490 BioTech has developed patented technology at the University of Tennessee that allows cells to produce a continuous light signal with no external help, adjusting intensity to reflect real-time changes in cellular health. 490 BioTech markets this to pharmaceutical and contract research fields as a way to reduce drug development costs, while simultaneously providing information on safety and effectiveness. The company recently won the 2020 Judges’ Choice award during Innov865 Week “Startup Day,” and has received more than $2 million in Small Business Innovation Research funding and other grants.

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Eonix works in battery efficiency and is working to develop a non-flammable electrolyte that is more stable and holds more power than the ones found in current batteries.

Ascend Manufacturing works in 3D printing technology and has developed a printing machine that makes products stronger, cheaper, and faster than the competition.

If you missed the presentation for the ‘Tom Ballard Innovation Award’ Friday morning, you can still view the livestream video here, or look at additional photos from today’s event below.


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Photo captions:

Photo 1: Dan Close, right, receives the first “Tom Ballard Innovation Award.” Tom Ballard, who the award is named for, presented Close with the award on March 12.

Photo 2: PYA President and Chief Executive Officer Marty Brown, left, stands with Spencer Flottman and Don DeRosa of Eonix LLC, and PYA Chief Alliance Officer Tom Ballard, right. Eonix won the second-place “Tom Ballard Innovation Award.”

Photo 3: Justin Nussbaum of Ascend Manufacturing, left, receives the third-place “Tom Ballard Innovation Award.” The award was given to him by Tom Ballard, right, at PYA’s Knoxville headquarters.

Photo 4: Larsen Jay, Director of Business Alliances at PYA, kicked off the “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” presentation on March 12.

Photo 5: The finalists for the first “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” stand with PYA’s President and CEO Marty Brown, center left, and Chief Alliance Officer Tom Ballard, center right. From left, Spencer Abbott and Justin Nussbaum of Ascend Manufacturing were the third-place winners of the award, Dan Close of 490 BioTech was the first-prize winner, and Don DeRosa of Eonix LLC was the second-place winner.

Photo 6: Marty Brown, the President and Chief Executive Officer of PYA speaks at the “Tom Ballard Innovation Award” presentation on March 12.

Photo 7: Tom Ballard gave a short speech before presenting the finalists with their awards.


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