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February 26, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Applications now open for autoXLR8R

Drawing on its heritage as the epicenter for the emergence of the “New American Automotive Manufacturers,” the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers is launching an entrepreneurial accelerator named, appropriately enough, the “autoXLR8R.”  

Automotive News, the industry’s recognized major publication, coined the “New American Automotive Manufacturers” term to describe the explosion of mainly Japanese and German manufacturers that opened their first plants in the U.S. in the region. Nissan was the inaugural member of the group, followed fairly quickly by BMW in South Carolina, Toyota in Kentucky, and Mercedes Benz in Alabama.  

Saturn in Spring Hill, TN also fit the description, particularly with its tagline as “Different Kind of Car Company.”   

The region’s heritage for innovation in automotive manufacturing processes and technologies provides a solid background to launch the 13-week accelerator that is designed to help about 10 companies bring promising technologies to market.  

Dan Marcum and his team at autoXLR8R have pulled together a very impressive team of organizations – from Tennessee, the South and nation – to help support the effort.  

The official news release follows.  

Spring Hill, TN – The autoXLR8R program is now accepting applications for its 13-week entrepreneurial boot camp. The mentor-driven program will offer approximately 10 companies the opportunity to connect with automotive manufacturing and technology commercialization experts, as well as investors, for an immersion-style experience designed to help propel new innovations to market.  

The primary goal of the program is to identify, commercialize and fund high-potential technologies applicable to the automotive industry. The camp begins May 13 and will run through August 8 culminating in a final week of pitch presentations to investors.  

“The automotive industry in the Southern United States has tremendous momentum, supported by a strong network of world-class automotive research institutions and leading global automotive suppliers,” said Dan Marcum, autoXLR8R Executive Director. “The autoXLR8R boot camp offers start-up companies and entrepreneurs an opportunity to tap into this wealth of expertise and experience in one place,” said Marcum.  

Marcum also serves as the Executive Director of the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center (SMTEC), which manages the autoXLR8R program. Marcum has a proven track record of identifying successful new technologies and bringing them to market.  

The autoXLR8R program benefits from the support of an extensive network of research institutions, top engineering schools and automotive manufacturers and suppliers. This network includes:  

  • The Center For Automotive Research (CAR)
  • Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA)
  • University of Alabama, College of Engineering
  • University of Tennessee, College of Engineering
  • The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University
  • Vanderbilt University, College of Engineering
  • Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
  • LaunchTN
  • The Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA)
  • The Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association
  • The Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association
  • The Georgia Automotive Manufacturers Association
  • Southern Automotive Women’s Forum  

“TAMA is excited to support the autoXLR8R program, together with the other Southern automotive manufacturing associations,” said TAMA President Tom Brewer. “We will bring together seasoned industry professionals from our tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers to serve as mentors and advisors in the program. Automotive suppliers are an important resource for technology innovation. Supporting technology development is key to the next growth phase for the automotive industry in the South,” said Brewer.  

The Michigan based Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) are key program partners as well. “The supplier networks in the South are strong, but there is considerable room for growth,” said OESA Senior Vice President Glenn Stevens. “Providing entrepreneurs and innovators mentorship and investment opportunities is critical to growing the network,” said Stevens.  

Entrepreneurial teams from the region’s top universities are expected to compete for placement in the camp, although any entrepreneur, start-up or existing company with an innovative technology related to the automotive industry is encouraged to apply.  

Once companies have been chosen, a select group of mentors will be recruited from the autoXLR8R network based on the specific needs of the participants. Participants will also engage with various guest speakers and investors throughout the summer program.  

Participants will travel to Spring Hill, Tennessee to spend 13 weeks at the Northfield Workforce Development Conference Center, the former headquarters of GM’s Saturn Corporation. Companies will be provided with office space and $20,000 in exchange for six to ten percent equity.  

Applications can be submitted online at autoXLR8R.combeginning February 19. Additional important dates include:

February 19   Applications open

April 5              Applications closed

April 7              Company notification

May 13             autoXLR8R Camp begins in Spring Hill, Tennessee

August 8           autoXLR8R Camp ends  

About autoXLR8R  

autoXLR8R is a 13-week automotive accelerator program developed by the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center (SMTEC). The program’s mission is to identify, commercialize and fund promising new technologies applicable to the automotive industry.  

About the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center  

SMTEC is one of nine regional entrepreneurial accelerators that have been established throughout Tennessee to assist entrepreneurs. SMTEC provides mentoring, education and training, strategic and technical support, and assistance identifying sources of capital.  

For more information visit or contact Cammie Fitzgerald at 931-455-0155.

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