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PYA Ballard Innovation Award
March 07, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Finalists named for PYA’s “Tom Ballard Innovation Award”; presentation to be livestreamed on Friday

PYA Ballard Innovation AwardBy Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

Three finalists have been selected for PYA’s first “Tom Ballard Innovation Award.” The final placement of the winners will be announced at 10 a.m. on March 12 during the livestreaming of the award ceremony.

The link for the livestream can be found here.

Speakers at the event will include Marty Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PYA; Larsen Jay, PYA Director of Business Alliances; and PYA Chief Alliance Officer and Publisher Tom Ballard for whom the award is named. Read Ballard’s reaction to having the award named for him in this article.

Announced earlier this year, the award recognizes early stage East Tennessee companies that demonstrate great promise and an innovative focus. Award applicants were asked to present a business plan that optimized existing business operations by reducing costs, increasing revenues, and/or gaining new efficiencies, while demonstrating clear innovations to improve the business and empower the consumer.

In alphabetical order, the three finalists are:

  • 490 BioTech: a company working in autobioluminescent technologies, allowing cells to produce light continuously without any external help. This technology can be used in pharmaceutical drug testing, helping to speed the process and move drugs more rapidly to human testing phases.
  • Ascend Manufacturing: a company working in 3D printing technology, to make products stronger, faster, and cheaper. Ascend’s printing machine can enable companies to move into mass production or to produce high-performance parts.
  • Eonix, LLC: a company working in battery efficiency. Eonix has developed a new electrolyte that is more stable and holds more power than the ones found in current batteries.

Both Ascend and Eonix are companies in the “Innovation Crossroads” program, operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory with support from TVA, which is bringing young tech-focused entrepreneurs to the region. Eonix also currently rents lab space from the Spark Innovation Center.

Judges for the award were Charlie Brock (Co-Founder of the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund and former President and CEO of Launch Tennessee), Brandon Bruce (Co-Founder of Startup Knox, start-ups Cirrus Insight and Uncat, and Chair of the Board of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center), Amy Henry (Director of Transformative Innovation at TVA), Mike Odom (President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber), and Mary Celeste Beall (Proprietor of Blackberry Farm luxury resort).

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