Knoxville’s “Innov865 Week” just a week away

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The weeklong celebration of entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Knoxville region begins a week from today with about a half-dozen key events – from the always popular “Startup Day” to several more targeted sessions on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a Friday morning panel discussion about “Attracting Industries of the Future to East Tennessee.”

“Startup Day” Returns In-Person

Officially known as “Innov865 Week,” the activities feature the return of the in-person, but capacity-constrained “Startup Day” on the afternoon of October 5 at The Mill & Mine, 227 West Depot Avenue. The large space can accommodate up to 300 attendees with appropriate distancing, and “Innov865 Week” media partner WATE-TV will also provide streaming of the festivities that begin a 2 p.m.

Six start-ups, including three that are current or alumni members of the “Innovation Crossroads” (IC) program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will participate in the always enjoyable pitch competition where up to $10,000 in prizes will be available. In alphabetical order, the companies are:

  • CQI Insights that is a healthcare data consulting firm that assesses the value of any drug, device, or diagnostic tool as it relates to the patient care process using Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI);
  • Endeavor Composites, a member of Cohort 3 of the IC program, that is commercializing a technology licensed exclusively from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) to produce continuous scale, defect free non-woven mats;
  • Sentinel Devices, a participant in Cohort 4 of the IC program, that is developing and commercializing a next-generation anomaly detection platform for industrial control systems;
  • Summit Performance that uses PCT pending technology to measure the performance, playability, and safety of sports surfaces while simultaneously measuring the forces on the body during athlete-to-surface interactions;
  • SkyNano LLC, a member of the inaugural IC cohort, has a patent-pending technology that utilizes a low cost manufacturing technique of high value carbon materials, using only inexpensive materials, electricity, and carbon dioxide as direct inputs; and
  • Uncat is a web app used by accountants and bookkeepers to fix pesky uncategorized transactions with their clients and sync with QuickBooks Online.

The “Startup Day” pitch competition will be judged by a three-person panel with two prizes up for grabs: (1) the “Innov865 Judges’ Choice” prize; and (2) the “Innov865 Crowd Favorite” prize, presented by Truist. The event will also feature the “Impact Award,” presented by Verizon, to a Knoxville entrepreneur who has made the greatest impact in their industry and community.

To register, click here.

Other Programs

  • The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and Three Roots Capital will host a hybrid event of pre-recorded pitches, live Q&A, and roundtable discussions and networking. Titled “Raising & Rising,” the event that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. October 6 will bring together investors, industry experts, and local Knoxville companies that are either on the rise or looking to raise capital. Those who will give pre-recorded pitches include: (1) Hope Westall of Alt Route Meals; (2) Erika Biddix of Aught Entrepreneurs; (3) Kendrick Smith and Paul Hassell of Breedwise; (4) Ian Ratner of Poze; (5) John Phillips of Primeaux; (6) Rafael Darosci Henrique of RepMe; (7) Mekal Smith of Sleepy Own Company; and (8) Sam Evans of Unbound Water Technologies. To register, click here.
  • At 5:30 p.m. that same day, KEC and Women in Entrepreneurship-Knoxville (WiE) will host a panel discussion on ways “everyone can show up more for women entrepreneurs and founders.” Scheduled as an in-person event at the new Aught Coworking site, 520 West Summit Hill Avenue, Suite 601 in Downtown Knoxville, the “Showing Up for Women Entrepreneurs” event will bring together women founders, ecosystem builders, and capital access experts for an important and much-needed discussion with the goal of making East Tennessee one of the best places for women founders to build a business. Booth Andrews, Owner of Booth Andrews LLCand C-Chair of WiE, will facilitate a panel that includes: (1) Stacy Baugues, Founder of PowerUp Fitness; (2) Tanika Harper, Executive Director of Shora Foundation; and (3) Richard Dapaah, Managing Partner of Seaford Capital Management. To register, click here.
  • At 11 a.m. on October 7 in a virtual event, ORNL and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council will showcase Cohort 5 of the IC program. Presenting will be one of the entrepreneurs who pitched during Tuesday’s “Startup Day” – Forrest Shriver of Sentinel Devices – and another (Sam Evans of Unbound Water Technologies) who pitched during the “Raising and Rising” event on Wednesday. Other presenters are: (1) Caleb Alexander of DayLyte Batteries; (2) Tommy Gibbons of Hempitecture; (3) Shuchi “SK” Khurana of Addiguru; and (4) Philip Stuckey of FC Renew. To register for the event, click here.
  • The final event is the traditional annual wrap-up to “Innov865 Week” which is a Friday morning session during the weekly meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. October 8, the session, titled “Attracting Industries of the Future to East Tennessee,” will feature a panel discussion moderated by Tricia Martinez, Managing Director of the “TechstarsIndustries of the Future Accelerator.” Registration information can be found here.

Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation; ORNL; PYA, the power behind; UT Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and InnovationLaunch TennesseeKnoxville Chamber of Commerce; Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; Three Roots Capital; UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm; City of Knoxville; and Bunker Labs Knoxville.

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