Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
January 22, 2024 | Tom Ballard

INVESTOR OUTLOOK 6 | What technologies interest you?

Artificial intelligence is on everyone's mind.

Today’s question as posed to our experts is: What emerging technologies have captured your attention?”

Ken Woody, President and Partner, Innova Memphis: Sustainable ag, smart anything, artificial intelligence (AI) applications, productivity/efficiency, and labor force optimization are all very interesting right now.

David Adair, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Solas BioVentures: Regulated Food and Drug Administration digital tech and AI. Solas has brought on Lana Caron, former head of Philips Medical Ventures digital health, to lead this vertical as a General Partner. This whole area is undergoing rapid growth and transformation. These efforts move the hospital to the home, allow for unprecedented connectivity and collection of better data for chronic disease management, and encourage greater patient engagement in their healthcare. We also are seeing the return of small molecule pharma opportunities after a five-year absence.

Gene Bressler, Chairman of the Upper Cumberland Investment Alliance: Anything that suggests we can do it here better and at a competitive price/advantage with the world and specifically China or emerging markets. Leverage AI, think out of the box. Exciting manufacturing breakouts. U.S. manufacturing and consumers should continue to invest locally to avoid costly and inflationary supply and component constraints and shortages. We have all lived that, and no one in business or consumer wants to be there again. Memories tend to be short.

Eric Dobson, Managing Partner, Community Equity Partners LLC and Sheltowee Venture Fund II: AI (true AI as distinguished from machine learning) for both good and bad reasons. We have been looking at AI for years and found deals that were implementing AI, but few that necessitated it. The explosive launch of ChatGPT was a shocker. We were looking at companies deploying AI as a tool, not creating a super AI as a central point of launching many new businesses (toolbox for building businesses fast and cheap). On the good side, the bar just got radically lower for entrepreneurs to create scalable businesses. On the bad side, the competition was already fierce, and now it is even more competitive. There will be considerable disruption based on AI. I am hearing of Family Offices shaking in their proverbial boots because their automation and business efficiency platform-based portfolios are going to be decimated by AI. However, I think it offers a great tailwind to the type of companies we find here in Innovation Valley – deeptech, medtech, cleantech, advanced manufacturing, etc. These are companies that will benefit from implementing AI and not be threatened by it as a competitor.

Tony Lettich, Managing Director, The Angel Roundtable: ART is focused on niche AI opportunities with a focus on Small Language Models (SLMs) that use deep learning techniques on large but focused data sets in niche areas, to summarize, generate and provide predictive analytics and new content for these specialized niche markets. ART intends to avoid obvious LLM (Large Language Model) unicorns in markets requiring massive resources and requiring the support of the major players like Google and Meta.

Grady Vanderhoofven, President and Chief Executive Officer, Three Roots Capital: AI, advanced computing and chips, virtual/immersive technologies, autonomous vehicles of all kinds, batteries, Internet of Things (IoT) . . . and because we are in East Tennessee, small modular nuclear reactors.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

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!