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March 21, 2023 | Shannon Smith

iO Urology wins 2023 PYA Ballard Innovation Award

Prizes were awarded to three East Tennessee start-ups during the 2023 Ballard Innovation Award Pitch Competition Tuesday.

At the 2023 PYA Ballard Innovation Award Pitch Competition & Reception, iO Urology won $50,000 in capital and in-kind services – the largest prize of its kind available to startups in the region.

Out of the numerous applicants received, five startups took the stage on March 21 at the Institute of Advanced Materials & Manufacturing at the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm to compete for three prizes.

iO Urology pitches at the 2023 Ballard Innovation Award Pitch Competition.

Captis Aire came in second place, while Carbon Rivers came in third. Second- and third-place winners receive $10,000 and $5,000 of in-kind strategy support, respectively.

“PYA is committed to supporting startups in our region. We’re proud to recognize iO Urology as this year’s winner of the PYA Ballard Innovation Award,” said PYA President Marty Brown. “This annual award allows us to help companies stay, grow and thrive in the greater Knoxville area. At our core, PYA wants companies that start here to stay here, and those that move here to love here.”

While this is the third annual PYA Ballard Innovation Award, it’s the first year finalists have competed in a pitch competition. A panel of five regional leaders – Joan Bienvenue of the University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Gabe Bolas of KUB, Kathryn Eggleston of H.T. Hackney, Tanika Harper of the Shora Foundation, and Raj Patel of Atlas Physical Therapy – selected the winners based on their five-minute pitches.

iO Urology is a privately held medical technology company that aims to improve the lives of men and women living with urologic conditions. Its product CarePath combines a diagnostic device with a digital health platform that provides real-time insight into patient symptoms where they live, at home. CarePath educates, empowers, and motivates patients to actively engage with their care provider to find optimal treatment. CarePath improves lives by discovering the care patients need.

Tom Ballard, PYA Chief Alliance Officer, and Deb Crawford, UTK Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

Captis Aire provides capital and energy-efficient emissions control technology that enhances the efficiency of wood drying and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The company has unique expertise using the fluidized Bed Concentrator (FBC) technology for controlling emissions from wood drying, i.e. for controlling emissions from Oriented Strand Board (OSB), wood pellet, plywood, etc. manufacturing processes.

Carbon Rivers is dedicated to sustainable, green circular economies. Instead of incineration, landfill, or aggregate in other materials, Carbon Rivers reclaims glass fiber from a variety of production and end-of-life waste streams in order to provide clean, high-quality glass fiber. The recovered glass fiber is then either provided to glass manufacturers to be competitive in price and quality to virgin glass mined from silica or upcycled into composite intermediates for a variety of second-generation materials in the automotive, aerospace, marine, or construction industries.

At the event, attendees also heard from PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer Tom Ballard, and Deborah Crawford, UTK’s Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, & Economic Development. The two spoke about opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.

“There are more opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in our region than ever before,” said Ballard. “From two new startup accelerators recently launching to a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship overall, there is a lot to celebrate. I’m proud to work for an organization like PYA that supports the regional business community.”

The award is named in honor of Ballard, who has spent decades working on creating relationships and supporting the East Tennessee region’s entrepreneurial community. He is also the editor of

For more information and to learn about past award winners, click here.

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