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November 21, 2021 | Tom Ballard

IC COHORT 3 UPDATE: ORNL, UTK and IACMI helping accelerate Endeavor Composites

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series on Cohort 3 of “Innovation Crossroads.” Earlier this year, the cohort graduated from the program. Each article will focus on what’s next for the innovators and their companies. There is also a second article in today’s edition about Endeavor Composites.)

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

For Hicham Ghossein, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor Composites, being in the industry’s hub has propelled his business forward. With research being done on composite manufacturing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), it makes sense that Knoxville has become a sort of headquarters for the industry.

“Having them in our backyard helped us a lot in giving us access to much bigger manpower, and brainpower per se,” Ghossein said.

Read more about Endeavor Composites here in this article.

Ghossein is one of the innovators that just graduated from Cohort 3 of “Innovation Crossroads.” Due to the pandemic, “Innovation Crossroads” and DOE leadership have given Cohort 3 no-cost extensions on some of the program’s funding, including travel and research funds. More recently, Ghossein has also been accepted into the MassChallenge accelerator, which is virtual this year due to the pandemic. Read more about the accelerator in this article.

Hicham Ghossein

“After we incubated the technology and scaled it up with ‘Innovation Crossroads,’ now we are accelerating the business side through the MassChallenge accelerator,” he said.

MassChallenge will help Ghossein refine his business model and build his pitch deck. The program will help create the future roadmap of Endeavor Composites, Ghossein said, adding it will make “a much clearer image for the path forward.”

Once the accelerator ends in October, Ghossein said Endeavor Composites will then begin a funding round. Additionally, Ghossein said he is looking into getting a loan for some equipment that will help scale-up his composite fabric manufacturing. Because companies need larger orders of the fabric, Ghossein said he hasn’t been able to keep up with demand. An industrial size of the machine line will help him fill those larger orders.

Ghossein said he’d prefer to do a loan for the equipment rather than using up the equity from his raise. That money will go toward building-up Endeavor Composites as a business.

“We’ll use that money to bring talent to grow the business instead of just a stagnant machine,” he added.

A continued partnership with UTK enabled Ghossein to continue using lab space there after ORNL closed due to the coronavirus. It was the same lab space where he did his research for his doctorate.

“It’s a facility that complements what’s in Oak Ridge. There is some essential stuff that exists in both places,” Ghossein said. “So, I was able to make some composites and do some testing while we were waiting for Oak Ridge access.”

Ghossein received a Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the AFWERX program through the U.S. Air Force, which was done in partnership with UTK. Read more in this article.

Eventually, as restrictions lifted, Ghossein was able to resume working at ORNL. Earlier this summer, Endeavor Composites also became a small enterprise member at IACMI.

It is Ghossein’s goal to build a research and development center for Endeavor Composites here in Knoxville. Although his larger clients are in places such as North Carolina, research partnerships such as those with UT, ORNL, and IACMI are hard to pass up. Since Knoxville is a shipping hub, it is also easier for customers to have access to his product. The affordability of the area, and the fact that Knoxville continues to grow as a city, makes it easier for a small company like Endeavor Composites to grow.

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