Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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Weekend edition November 04, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Check out the innovative new technology in Knoxville

Seven companies showcased their latest developments in the technology sector at the annual KTech Pulse Technology Summit.

Approximately a hundred people gathered at Jewelry TV for the 2023 Knoxville Technology Council (KTech) Pulse Technology Summit to hear about the latest achievements of entrepreneurs and businesses that are integrating advanced technology into their day-to-day practices.

One after another, businesses from Knoxville took to the podium to share their innovative ideas and how they contribute to the technology economy in the Southeast. KTech and the Knoxville Chamber have found common ground in this area of growth.

Technology Workforce

According to a report published by KTech and the Knoxville Chamber in late October, 36 Knoxville-based technology companies anticipate filling between 400 and 800 new positions in the next five years. The only issue is, where will they find qualified candidates?

Lauren Longmire, representing the Knoxville Chamber, and Matthew Kittrell from CGI and KTech delved into the root causes of the workforce needs in the Knoxville community. They identified a lack of qualified candidates who have completed post-secondary education and are fully equipped to handle the demands of a tech career. The report revealed that only about 300 students graduate from local colleges and universities each year with degrees in computer and tech-related fields. Longmire stated that they need to start nurturing interest in technology careers at the high school level. Longmire and Kittrell agreed that workforce development is going to be the key to Knoxville’s growth as a hub for technology and innovation.

AI Integration

To explore the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the Knoxville business economy, Greg Elin with Reg Scale took the stage.

“Knock knock,” Elin said. The crowd responded, “Who’s there?”

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…,” Elin continued. The crowd chimed in with “Star Wars.”

When you think about AI, it involves a predictive element. It sources data from the internet to provide users with the most predictive data, much like a knock-knock joke. Generative AI takes things a step further. When you hear the famous opening lines of Star Wars, you have an idea of what the movie will be about, but the creativity, storyline, conflict, and resolution will differ every time. It works the same way with Generative AI. Through Generative AI, stories, photos, videos, and even code come alive through computer creativity.

“It can create products based on a user-specified style and seemingly thinks on its own,” Elin said.

The possibilities with AI and Generative AI are endless, which is why Elin mentioned that trillion-dollar companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are investing billions of dollars in artificial intelligence startups. These mega-companies recognize the opportunities in AI and likely even view it as a threat to their existing businesses.

“There are billions of dollars invested and trillions at stake,” Elin emphasized.

Technology in Knoxville

Most of the companies that presented at the KTech Pulse Technology Summit have integrated AI into their business practices in some way, shape, or form. The innovative techniques that business leaders shared at the summit are likely to have a widespread effect on their respective industries.

These presentations included:

    • Russell White from Clayton Homes and Eric Collins from CGI discussed how their partnership is leading to smarter solutions in the home-buying process through streamlining transportation management, workflow, and serving customers through AI technologies.
    • Tracy Hall from Accenture discussed how space is the new frontier for business. She mentioned that the space economy is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2040. Accenture is working on integrating new technologies from earth-to-space and space-to-earth. She also shared that the company already has 30 robots.
    • Andrew Hmielewski from Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) talked about their initiative to make the fiber broadband network more accessible for people across the city and county.
    • Jeff Atkinson from Zelvin Security discussed their AI capabilities to conduct “ethical hacking,” which will help businesses in their defense and offense against cyber security attacks. The company relocated to Knoxville about two years ago.
    • Tiffany Cross from Covenant Health shared an exciting new project that Covenant is pioneering in the region when it comes to advanced care at home through a “virtual hospital.” Cross said it is different from the home health system seen during the pandemic (where patients Zoomed with their physicians). The virtual hospital would be an interactive, AI-powered, in-home treatment plan for specific, qualifying patients. The hospital had 200,000 virtual care encounters in 2022, which gave it the power to launch this innovative program.
    • Fred Fuller from SEGRA talked about the company’s passion for fiber, internet, and dark fiber to help businesses connect at high speeds.
    • James Horey is the CEO of Slide Form, a startup company dedicated to simplifying the process of producing recurring reports. Slide form aims to solve the problem of wasted time in the office by copying and pasting data into PowerPoint. His SaaS will connect to data sheets and slideshow software, and through AI, it will generate a report.

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