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May 15, 2016 | Tom Ballard

“GIGTANK 365” summer cohort launches today

GIGTANK 365 - 2016

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

It’s launch day for the 2016 edition of Chattanooga’s “GIGTANK 365,” and the always exuberant Mike Bradshaw is literally over the top as he describes the 12 teams that comprise the summer cohort.

The effervescence that CO.LAB’s Executive Director feels is the result of two developments – the quality of the teams that applied for this year’s program and the fact that so many of them are homegrown.

“With the local ecosystem four or five years ago, we were shopping around to recruit teams,” Bradshaw said. “Now, we’re getting our own. Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is that good.”

This is his fifth year working with the program, starting as a mentor in 2012. With this historical focus, we asked Bradshaw about some of the differences he has noted. One quickly rose to the top of the list.

“Many of the teams are coming in very well-based on the agile start-up methodology,” he said. “So, they will be hitting the ground running.”

This reality affects the way in which the 2016 program will run. Bradshaw returns as Entrepreneur-in-Residence with each CO.LAB staff member assuming certain responsibilities, based on his or her expertise.

“Something I’m really excited about is our healthcare teams,” Bradshaw told us. “We have a company founded by students at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and two in telehealth.”

The former, named RENDEVER, has developed a virtual reality (VR) platform targeted to senior citizens living in elderly care facilities. The technology does everything from giving the residents a global travel experience to engaging them with cognitive therapy programs that are being developed with the nationally-recognized Massachusetts General Hospital.

“It is a very specific use of VR,” Bradshaw said, adding, “It made my heart glad.”

There’s a YouTube demonstration of the RENDEVER technology available here.

The two telehealth start-ups are both local, and both take advantage of EPB’s first-of-its-kind gigabit network, a key driver in the types of teams that CO.LAB attracts to the “GIGTANK 365” accelerator.

One, named Docity, offers a HIPAA-compliant tool to improve communications between healthcare providers and their patients. The company developed its prototype during CO.LAB’s spring program.

The other, named One-on-One Telehealth, connects a network of 200 physicians in Chattanooga with their patients. In so doing, it enables remote, regular monitoring of patient vital signs through use of a handheld device currently going through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s clearance process.

“Another I’m really excited about is TelemeterED,” Bradshaw says. The company has created and tested a model in Chattanooga that enhances science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, bringing previously unparalleled opportunities to students it underserved schools.

The pioneering work, best described by watching this video, enables STEM students to participate in experiments conducted at major research centers like those at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California.

“Our inner city schools will have access to world-class research,” Bradshaw explains. “These kids can control the microscope, and there are no latency issues.” The latter comment refers to the delay between moving a cursor, for example, and when the students see the movement at the remote location.

“GIGTANK 365” runs through July 29. For a complete list of the teams and a snapshot of each, click here.

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