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April 18, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Governor’s Innovation Conference is next week in Nashville


The first ever “Governor’s Innovation Conference” will be held April 26 and 27 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Nashville with an agenda packed with national and local presenters.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Deborah Wince-Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Council on Competitiveness, will speak at the keynote luncheon on April 26. The event is hosted by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) in conjunction with the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (TTDC).

The event kicks-off with two consecutive panels. The theme of the first panel is “Driving Economic Growth in a Global Marketplace.” Panelists include Dan Berglund, President and CEO of the State Science and Technology Institute; Brian McGowan, President and CEO of the Atlanta Development Authority; and Harry Moser, Founder of the Reshoring Initiative. Moderator will be Barry Johnson, Executive Director of Select USA.

“Venture Capital Outlook: Current Trends in the Investment Community” is the topic for the second morning panel. Presenter is Ed Powel, President of IPX. Panelists are Bill Guttman, Partner in TL Ventures; Mohamad Makhzoumi, Partner in New Enterprise Associates; Zubeen Shroff, Managing Partner of Galen Partners; and Sue Siegel, General Partner of Mohr Davidow Ventures. Moderator will be Joe Cook Jr., Co-founder and Principal of Mountain Capital Group and President of Life Science Tennessee.

The afternoon will feature concurrent “Venture Showcase” sessions on life sciences and healthcare, technology and electronics, digital media and entertainment, and alternate energy and sustainability.

The first day concludes with a reception where Governor Haslam will present the first annual Governor’s Award for Innovation Excellence to recognize the achievement of a Tennessean whose dedication to enhancing the world through innovation has made a major impact on society.

Three panels are planned for April 27 before the closing luncheon. They will run consecutively. The topics and panelists are:

  • “Exploring Strategies of Entrepreneur Accelerators; Progress, Future Growth and Methods of Success” – Charlie Brock, General Partner of the Renaissance Fund; Eric Mathews, CEO of LaunchYourCity, Inc.; Marcus Whitney, Co-founder and Managing Director of Jumpstart Foundry; Susan Amat, Co-founder of The Launch Pad; and Donna Harris, Managing Director for Start-up Regions of the Start-up America Partnership.
  • “The Role of Inventors in Commercializing Academic Innovations” – Todd Sherer, Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director of Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer; Sandra Miller, Managing Director of New Ventures at Singularity University; and Michael Zemel, Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • “Investor Insights for the Digital Media Space” – Joe Galante, former Chairman of Sony Music Nashville; Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne; and Landon Gibbs, Director of Healthcare Initiatives for Clayton Associates.

The conference concludes with a luncheon panel addressing the issue of how to “Stop Stopping Innovation.” The panelists include Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton; Todd McCullough, Advisor to Jetavate; and Mark Swenson, Vice President for Production Engineering and Component Facilities at Nissan Americas.

More information about the conference, including registration details, can be found at


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