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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
February 20, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Weekly “News & Notes” feature covers a variety of activities

From Knoxville:

  • Public voting ends tonight for the 24 companies trying to be selected for 14th annual edition of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center‘s (KEC) “What’s The Big Idea? Pitch Competition.” “While the teams with the most votes aren’t guaranteed a spot in the finals, our team does take the final number of votes into consideration when narrowing down the finalists,” KEC wrote. The elevator pitch videos can be found here.
  • Techstars, which begins its inaugural “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator” today in Downtown Knoxville, has announced the launch of the “Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator.” Run in partnership with Build in Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the new program will support and fund high-growth underrepresented entrepreneurs. More details can be found here. And, the 10 start-ups comprising the Techstars accelerator funded by Stanley Black & Decker were also announced last week. That program is focused on technologies that enable the electrification of consumer and industrial products through the implementation of battery technology, advanced and recyclable materials, microprocessors, robots, consumer appliances and services.
  • Veteran Ventures Capital (VVC) has formally announced its investment in SEE ID Inc., a Las Vegas-based industry-first asset tracking platform utilizing real-time, precision-based location technology. It’s the latest start-up by a military veteran to secure seed investment from the Knoxville-based fund. The official announcement of the investment came 10 days after Hersh Family Investments of Dallas, TX signed-on as the lead investor of VVC’s inaugural Veteran Fund I and Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal came to VVC as both an investor and advisor to the fund.
  • Lia Winter of Winter Innovations reported another milestone that occurred on Friday. “We completed the first case with EasyWhip™ in our home state of Tennessee,” she wrote in a social media post. Winter thanked Dr. Michael Kern and his PA Braxton Childers, who said this about EasyWhip™ as he prepped the quad tendon ACL graft: “It definitely makes stitching easier, especially when I don’t have someone else to hold the end of the graft.”

From Chattanooga:

Confluent Medical, headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, but with an expanded operation in Chattanooga (see State of Tennessee announcement from December 2020 here), announced the closing of a majority investment from TPG Capital, the private equity platform of alternative asset management firm TPG. Confluent is the leader in Nitinol-based medical component development and manufacturing, leveraging its complex design expertise, proprietary supply of high purity Nitinol, and manufacturing capabilities to deliver innovative, high-quality products. TPG Capital joins existing investor Ampersand Capital Partners which has retained a substantial minority interest in Confluent.

From Johnson City:

FoundersForge has announced several events over the next few weeks.

  • The monthly “Pitch Night” is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. February 24 at Spark Plaza, 404 South Roan Street. Details and a registration link can be found here.
  • The evening before, Spark Plaza will host a discussion of non-fungible tokens. The panel features  Jeff Rainey with and Drew Bedard with To register for the 6 to 7 p.m. February 23 discussion, click here.
  • The next “Founders Meetup” is set for 12 noon March 10 at Action VFX, 112 East Myrtle Avenue. The topic is “How to Build Your Start-up’s Product Successfully.” It is a hybrid event with a Zoom option. Click here to register.

From Oak Ridge:

Last week’s “Gone Fission Nuclear Report” podcast celebrated Black History Month with a segment spotlighting Oak Ridge’s Harold Conner, the first African-American chemical engineering graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville who went on to become the site manager of the world’s largest uranium enrichment complex. Click here to watch the episode.

From Nashville:

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) is seeking justice-involved individuals to participate in a 10-week entrepreneurship program set to begin next month.  TDOC’s Community Resource Center has partnered with Corner 2 Corner, a local nonprofit dedicated to economic equity for Nashville communities, to offer “The Academy” program, designed to equip current and former offenders with the skills to plan, start, and grow a small business. Set to begin March 7, the program is free of charge for those who participate through the CRC. Participants will learn about mission and messaging, legal structure, sales projection, and more.  Graduates of the program can apply for business funding with Corner to Corner’s various community partners, and have access to additional resources, like classes on website building, Shopify, and continued mentorship. Anyone interested in participating should contact the Nashville Community Resource Center at 615/770-1835.

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