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March 23, 2015 | Tom Ballard

ACCELERATOR OUTLOOK: Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers

SMTEC-tekno(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in a multi-part series focused on Launch Tennessee’s accelerator program and the regional accelerators that operate in the eastern half of Tennessee. Today, we examine the plans of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers.)

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Dan Marcum is a well-known player in the state’s technology-based sector. He and Fran, his wife, are entrenched in the Tullahoma community, formerly owning Micro Craft and Marcum Capital. Dan serves as Executive Director of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers (SMTEC) and an Advisor to Relevance Capital where Fran is the Chief Executive Officer. AMTEC is one of the nine regional accelerators operated in various areas of the state with partial funding from Launch Tennessee.

We asked Dan to tell us about the accelerator’s plans for 2015.

How would you describe the primary focus of your organization and the activities that it undertakes?

SMTEC’s focus is on: (1) Advanced manufacturing with an emphasis on automotive, aerospace, and law enforcement-related technologies; (2) SaaS-based (B2B and B2C) technologies; and (3) healthcare enablement systems..

What has that been the focus since SMTEC’s inception or have there been some changes? If there have been changes, what were they?

SMTEC has made a pivot since its founding in 2011. Initially, SMTEC focused on serving all industries within its 13-county service area in Middle Tennessee. Shortly thereafter, SMTEC pivoted to include start-ups located throughout the country that had a technology-rich product or service applicable to multiple advanced industries (AI) including the automotive, aerospace, and law enforcement industries. It offered its accelerator and incubation services via the brand names, “autoXLR8R™” and “TennesSeed Camps.”

Looking back on 2014, what was the greatest accomplishment of SMTEC? (Describe it.)

As of September of 2014, SMTEC’s autoXLR8R™ has accelerated 27 start-ups, helped raise more than $7.5 million in new equity for those start-ups, and helped them create and retain more than 230 jobs.

What other highlights come to mind during 2014?

The autoXLR8R™ had its first international start-up, “Cyberloop” from Hong Kong, now located in Cookeville.

What are SMTEC’s goals for 2015 in terms of formal programming and other activities?

Expanding the “autoXLR8R™” cohort program from a single 12-week event at a single location to multiple coordinated events within our IMCP neighborhood.  The autoXLR8R™ program is being transferred from SMTEC in Spring Hill to Tech 2020 in Oak Ridge. (EDITOR’S NOTE: See the recent announcement here.)

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