Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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August 13, 2014 | Tom Ballard

autoXLR8R start-ups cross finish line in Oak Ridge

autoXLR8RBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

They crossed the finish line yesterday afternoon at 1020 Commerce Park Drive in Oak Ridge, ending a 13-week intense effort to advance their technologies and companies.

Our not so subtle analogy refers to the seven start-ups that comprised this year’s cohort in the autoXLR8R. They brought their three-city “Road Show” to a conclusion in the Atrium of Tech 20/20, the local organization that has played a key program support role for the companies. The previous stops were July 31 in Kingsport and Tuesday in Spring Hill.

Most of the start-ups are tied to East Tennessee, by location or through their technologies that are drawn from either Oak Ridge National Laboratory or the University of Tennessee. The locally-based companies include two that were previously profiled on Clodico and APLAIR Manufacturing Solutions – and New Hybrid Technologies.

The lone company from outside the state’s borders is Cyberloop, which arrived at the autoXLR8R from Hong Kong, China.

Both Clodico and APLAIR were featured in an article in this week’s issue of Automotive News spotlighting start-ups. The headline says a great deal about the importance of the autoXLR8R. It read: “In an era of giant suppliers, start-ups are winning auto business.”

For Joy Fisher, Clodico’s President and Chief Executive Officer, it was another important step on her entrepreneurial journey that has seen several pivots with this start-up alone.

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” she said of the autoXLR8R. “My intern added a ton of value, and we were able to give back to her learning experience.”

Fisher hopes to have all of the required regulatory approvals by mid- to late September so she can start selling “OdorCRUSH,” a product that has the power to completely eradicate smoke and other odors from cars.

For Stan Mansfield of the New Hybrid team, the time was also well-spent.

“It has focused us on a business plan and our competition,” he said of the company’s technology that replaces a torque converter to generate electricity and provide auxiliary power for a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Like the other autoXLR8R start-ups, New Hybrid was seeking investment capital to continue its progress. In Mansfield’s case, the company needs funding to finish its “InDrive” prototype.

The autoXLR8R is sponsored by the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers.

In addition to Clodico and New Hybrid, the other companies pitching yesterday were:

  • APLAIR Manufacturing Solutions: Software and hardware integrated systems that utilize infrared and laser technologies to improve quality control in assembling sub­components of automobiles and detect discrepancies to prevent the production of defective/non-conforming materials.
  • Cyberloop (product “ISAAC”): Software and hardware application that connects to a car’s onboard diagnostics port to add predictive safety, navigation and other features to old and new model cars.
  • GrowPlastic: Oak Ridge National Lab technology which uses the complex polymer lignin to produce a non-petroleum-based 100% biodegradable plastic, which can be used in making light-weight car components.
  • NoWire: New technology developed by Oak Ridge National Lab that provides wireless power transfer to electrify or charge any device or moveable object.
  • PlateMatch: Self-learning license plate reading technology developed by the University of Tennessee which greatly improves on current technology by increasing efficiency and accuracy.


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