Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
June 18, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Guest column succinctly advocates for two strategies to grow an innovation ecosystem

One way is through investing, the other is to be early customers.

Emily Wykle is Regional Vice President at gener8tor, a nationally ranked venture capital firm and accelerator that partnered with The Company Lab in Chattanooga to host the just completed CO.LAB Sustainability Accelerator powered by gener8tor.

In her role, Wykle oversees gener8tor’s operations in the Southern market, with a specific focus on Alabama. She recently penned this article for Business Alabama that captured our attention with a not so subtle headline of “Alabama Should Invest in Its Own.” While it is focused on the our neighbors to the South, her words are generic for so many states.

“Imagine if Alabama led the nation in investing in local enterprises, multiplying our wealth and talent rather than exporting it,” Wykle wrote. “Some argue fiduciary responsibility limits such initiatives, suggesting investments elsewhere are safer bets. But if we don’t invest in our own, how can we expect others to? Committing one percent of institutional and private investors’ portfolios to local ventures could yield transformative results and robust returns. It could also tip the scales for young entrepreneurs and founders who are deciding whether to build their businesses here or search for greener pastures on the coasts.”

She continues by citing two specific starting points that are simple to say but so challenging for community leaders to embrace.

  • The first is to invest in locally based high-growth start-ups directly or through pooled funds.
  • The second way to bet on our own is to buy from these start-ups.

Her words resonated with those that Brandon Bruce reminded East Tennesseans about throughout the recent “Demo Day” for the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.”

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