Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
Weekend edition September 15, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Innov865 Week wraps up tenth successful year

Innov865 Week started ten years ago with the idea that start-ups in Knoxville could use a little love.

After 13 start-up pitches, hundreds of attendees, eight days of programming, expert panel discussions, and a tour of the Sunsphere for good measure, Innov865 Week is wrapping up in East Tennessee.

If you weren’t in attendance, Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

PYA, the power behind, is a founding member and also sponsor of the “Innovation Track,” one of five thematic categories that define the week’s programming.

RELATED: Vitriform3D, B-Roll Bank win big at Startup Day 2023

Innov865 Week started ten years ago with the idea that start-ups in Knoxville could use a little love.

“We had this group of people that was just interested in supporting entrepreneurs,” said Dan Miller, Manager of Industrial Partners and Economic Development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “We thought this would be a good way to show off the great start-ups in the area and give them a kind of a bigger platform to be seen.”

Since that idea was forged over a decade ago, the growth of Innov865 Week is tangible, as is the amount of start-ups calling Knoxville home.

“The main difference I see is that there are more high-impact start-ups that we can put on stage,” said Miller. “We have to figure out who we’re going to leave off because we just don’t have enough time or enough space to feature them all.”

“The list continues to grow, both of individual entrepreneurs and companies that are doing all these amazing things,” said Chris McAdoo, Director of Strategy and Engagement for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

COMMENTARY: It just keeps getting bigger and better

Miller credits this boom of local start-ups to programs that have developed over the last decade to help entrepreneurs with all types of business ideas. He names the University of Tennessee (UT) Spark Innovation Center, UT Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads, The Maker City, and 100Knoxville as some of the many initiatives aimed at supporting and growing start-ups in the region.

“Making Knoxville a hub of innovation benefits everybody,” Miller said. “I think it benefits the people that are here, but it also brings more jobs here and attracts more talent to the area in general.”

McAdoo said that’s in large part why Innov865 Week matters to everyone, even if you’re not involved in the start-up on entrepreneurial community.

“These are the people who are willing to take risks,” he said. “And people who are willing to take risks as an artist, as a business person, as a scientist, people who are willing to put themselves and their ideas out there, are the people that change communities for the better. Those are the people that you not only want them to lead, but you want those kinds of people that you can follow.”

RELATED: Knoxville start-ups need your help to raise and to rise

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!