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April 23, 2023 | Tom Ballard

News & Notes | Matching program for start-ups gets a haircut

Other items include the news that Tricia Martinez-Saab, Managing Director of the Knoxville-based "Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator," is returning to Chicago.

From Nashville but with Significant Impact Across Tennessee:

As the Tennessee General Assembly works each year to wrap-up the session and pass the annual budget, the only requirement the two chambers have, bad things can happen in the hustle and bustle, and one of those occurred last week with a deep cut in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Program that is administered by Launch Tennessee.

The initiative, which provides more flexible matching dollars to Volunteer State companies that receive federal funding under either the SBIR or STTR programs, was cut from the recommended $9 million for FY24 to $4.5 million. Last October, Launch Tennessee announced that 37 companies received funding under the program. More than 60 applied, and those applications showed that program demand exceeded $12 million which greatly outstripped the $7 million that was appropriated for the year. The Governor recommended a $2 million increase for the new fiscal year that begins July 1..

Milt Capps has the details from last week’s Launch Tennessee Board of Directors meeting in this article he posted on Thursday in Venture Nashville Connections

From Knoxville:

Tricia Martinez-Saab, Managing Director of the Knoxville-based “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator,” has announced that she will be returning to Chicago to serve as Managing Director for “Techstars Chicago Powered by J.P. Morgan.”

In a social media post, she wrote, “It has been a wild ride launching two new Accelerators and investing in 32 start-ups at Techstars, and I am beyond excited to announce that I will be returning to Chicago” to lead the accelerator. “Samer Saab (her husband) and I started our start-up journeys in Chicago as founders and we are both thrilled to be heading back to help nurture, grow, and scale the next world-changing companies as investors.”

Applications opened last month for the fall cohort of the Chicago program and close June 7, roughly three weeks before Demo Day for the Knoxville-based cohort. The 13-week program in the Windy City begins September 11.

The Saabs are new parents, and the relocation to Chicago brings them closer to family to help with the baby. “Samer’s job pulled him back to Chicago,” Martinez-Saab added, noting that he is Senior Vice President of Product at Alloy Labs Alliance. “I am sad to leave. It is bittersweet.”

She will continue as Managing Director overseeing Cohort 2 of the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.”

From Maryville:

Bob Hawsey, a longtime leader of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at two national laboratories, has died. He retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he led the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program office, the National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado where he served as Vice President and Associate Laboratory Director for Renewable Electricity; and most recently as a representative with Thrivent Financial. During Hawsey’s five years at NREL, he helped grow the Renewable Electricity and End Use Systems directorate from 300 to about 380 full-time scientists and engineers.

According to his obituary, a  Celebration of Life will be held at New Providence Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. April 28.

From Chattanooga:

A graduate of the LAUNCH Entrepreneurship program and the organization’s Director of Business Support since October 2019 has a new gig. DeJuan S. Jordan has been promoted to the newly created position of Co-CEO, joining Hal Bowling, LAUNCH’s Co-Founder and now Co-CEO.

In making the announcement, he said, “DeJuan has demonstrated with her work as our Director of Business Support, her commitment to our mission and to start-up and early stage entrepreneurs. We will benefit even more from her greater involvement with key stakeholders in this new position. DeJuan’s wealth of experience, expertise, and leadership skills will be a valuable asset to our organization.”

LAUNCH has a focus on Black-owned, women-owned and micro-businesses.

From Crossville:

Whisper Aero has raised $32 million in Series A funding to grow its team and launch production of its ultra-quiet, ultra-efficient electric ducted fans, initially targeting U.S. Defense Department applications such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) uncrewed aircraft that are inaudible from the ground.

According to this article in Aviation Week Network, the start-up has validated its technology with flights of a custom-designed 55-pound ISR drone powered by a single 10-lb.-thrust demonstrator propulsor. Flying over at about 200 feet, the Whisper drone could not be acoustically detected by a ground observer but the 2-pound multicopter chase drone could clearly be heard at the same altitude, the company says.

Whisper’s ambitions, however, go far beyond powering small drones, to encompass air taxis and transonic aircraft and even consumer and industrial applications from leaf blowers to compressors. “This is going to touch everything that wants to move air quietly and efficiently,” says Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Moore.

From Cookeville:

The Biz Foundry is accepting applications for the Summer 2023 session of “Start Up Your Startup” which provides access to accounting, legal, insurance, and marketing experts. The sessions are held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. CDT Monday and Thursday nights between June 5 and 29. Learn more here and apply here.

From Nashville but with Statewide Interest:

We noted several weeks ago that the University of Tennessee Procurement Technical Assistance Center has changed its name to the Tennessee APEX Accelerator. In line with this, there are new URLs for the website.

  • To access eCenter (where you register for events, request counseling, etc.), users should click here.
  • To find out general info about how the TN APEX Accelerator can help a company, potential clients should use this link.



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