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Teknovation News and Notes
August 27, 2023 | Tom Ballard

News & Notes | Briefs from across the state

New venture fund opens in Nashville, Oak Ridge announces a new City Manager, the new ORNL Director makes a surprise visit, and CO.LAB joins with Chattanooga's EPB to host a national book tour.

From Oak Ridge:

  • Stephen K. Streiffer, the new Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), made a surprise visit to last Friday’s weekly meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC). He was introduced by Jeff Smith, ORNL’s Interim Director, and made brief comments ahead of Smith’s update on lab activities. Streiffer will begin his duties October 16.
  • Speaking of the ETEC meeting, Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch announced that the City Council has selected Randall W. (Randy) Hemann, Town Manager for Mooresville, NC, as its new City Manager. He will start on November 1. According to Hemann’s LinkedIn profile, the East Carolina University graduate has been Town Manager in the city near Charlotte for four years and previously served as Assistant City Manager of High Point, NC for another four years.

From Chattanooga:

The Company Lab (CO.LAB) is making news in a number of ways.

  • One item involves a collaboration with EPB on an event scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. EDT on September 18 that will feature nationally acclaimed author Jonathan Taplin who will unveil excerpts from his book, “The End of Reality: How Four Billionaires Are Selling a Fantasy Future of the Metaverse, Mars, and Crypto,” to the Chattanooga community. The event will take place at the Chattanooga Whiskey Hall and is open to the public. In an article that appeared in The Chattanoogan, CO.LAB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tasia Malakasis explained the interest. “As a leading organization committed to fostering innovation and supporting entrepreneurs, we believe it’s crucial to engage in conversations that critically examine the technology and business landscape.”
  • The other is a guest blog that CO.LAB contributed to Sustainable Tech Partner where it described something we noted in this August 16 article about the city becoming a rapidly emerging logistics hub. The blog cites an interview with Forbes in 2022 where AOL Co-Founder Steve Case said Chattanooga has become the ‘Silicon Valley of Trucking’ due to two primary factors: industry experience and government policy. More recently, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly says it’s not just those two factors that have a big influence in Chattanooga’s reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley of trucking.’ It’s also the numerous organizations based in Chattanooga offering unparalleled resources to any company within that industry.

From Nashville:

Blue Hour Ventures is a new venture capital firm in Nashville that is now in operation after spinning out Fund I from its previous management company and general partner.

Co-founded by Kevin Standefer, Managing Partner, and Clint Myers, Partner, the firm is focused on what it describes as “ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to redefine America’s healthcare system.” Blue Hour Ventures invests in early-stage companies that are creating new healthcare delivery models and the technologies that enable such innovation. This includes sectors such as tech-enabled providers, direct-to-consumer healthcare, and artificial intelligence augmented care, among others.

“We are geographically agnostic but tend to favor companies located in historically undercapitalized markets,” the firm adds.

North Sky Capital was instrumental in the spinout by participating in a secondary transaction that closed mid-year and is now described as a limited partner. Blue Hour Ventures’ Fund I launched in 2017 and lists 14 portfolio companies on its website.

From Memphis:

Glanris Water Systems Inc. has been awarded a $174,746 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a low-cost and easily manufactured modified biochar that adsorbs plant nutrients and can also be used in soil amendment and to remediate agriculture industry-induced dead-zones in receiving waters by removing phosphate and nitrate from agricultural runoff and wastewater streams.

The one-year award was made to the company that has been featured in national publications like Forbes and USA Today for its technology efforts. The former publication named it as one of three climate tech start-ups to watch in 2022. Currently, the focus is on the manufacture of a specialty biochar – Glanris Biocarbon® – that can be used for water treatment and filtration, soil augmentation, asphalt binder, concrete aggregate, and environmental remediation. The company’s mission is to use this patented technology to create meaningful long-term CO2 removal globally and at scale.

The company is led by Bryan Eagle III, Founder and CEO.


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