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March 23, 2022 | Tom Ballard

“Innovation Week” features pitches, displays, panels and a reception

The second day of Launch Tennessee’s (LaunchTN) “Innovation Week” yesterday included pitches, displays, and a variety of panel discussions topped-off by a reception for state legislators.

Hosted at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Downtown Nashville, the day started with six entrepreneurs, including Hicham Ghossein, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Endeavor Composites Inc., pitching their start-ups. His new venture was one of the participants in Cohort 3 of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” (IC) program.

During the first of the afternoon panels, another IC alum – Don DeRosa, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Eonix Energy, joined with two Nashville entrepreneurs and another from Memphis in a discussion moderated by LaunchTN Board member Julia Polk (pictured at far left). The others were (left to right) Kayla Graff of Sweet Bio, Justin Baba of Yaya Scientific, DeRosa, and Luke Benda of Healing Innovations Inc. All had participated in programs offered by LaunchTN network partners or benefitted in another way from LaunchTN such as receiving a matching grant under the state-funded program to supplement federal dollars received from a Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer award.

Later, each of the LaunchTN-funded entrepreneur centers (ECs), mentor network partners, and other statewide program collaborators described their programs. Pictured here are representatives of the ECs in the eastern portion Tennessee: (left to right) Lindsey Cox of CO.LAB, Jeff Brown of The Biz Foundry, Heath Guinn of Sync Space, and Jim Biggs of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC).

A little bit later in the afternoon, LaunchTN Interim CEO Abby Trotter moderated a panel discussion with representatives of the four mentor networks. Pictured here (left to right) are Trotter, Lilly Tench (KEC in partnership with AgLaunch), John Bruck representing the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Steven King (BioTN), and Gary Rawlings (TennSMART).

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