Knoxville’s “Innov865 Week” starts this weekend

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

It’s almost show time!

We’re talking about the latest edition of the Knoxville region’s “Innov865 Week.” Officially, it begins this Sunday with the “Maker City Summit,” includes the annual “Startup Day Knoxville” on Tuesday (September 25), and wraps-up with its busiest day on Thursday (September 27). Unofficially, there’s an event this Friday night (September 21) planned by a local entrepreneur to celebrate a major milestone on the Tennessee Volunteers road to a national championship 20 years ago.

The nearly weeklong series of events is organized by the Innov865 Alliance whose founding members include the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation; Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); PYA, the power behind teknovation.biz; UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Three Roots Capital; Launch Tennessee; Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC); and TVA.

The unofficial event on Friday night is a screening of the Volunteers 1998 victory over Florida. Organized by recent UT graduate Baker Donahue, Founder of In With the Old, the festivities will be held at the World’s Fair Park with gates opening at 5 p.m. Click here for more details.

The first official event is the “Maker City Summit” that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at The Mill & Mine on West Depot Avenue. As noted in this recent teknovation.biz post, the program features a great line-up of speakers including Eric Myerson, the former head of Marketing for Facebook, YouTube, Google, and Eventbrite. Myerson is also scheduled to lead two social media workshops for start-ups at the KEC on Monday (September 24). The first one sold-out quickly, and KEC added a second session that also sold-out.

The signature event of the week is the annual “Startup Day,” keynoted by Amy Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of Venture For America (VFA). The organization is modeled on Teach for America, which recruits college graduates from top schools to work as teachers. In this case, VFA draws from the same population and finds them full-time jobs in start-ups in selected cities across the country.

During “Startup Day,” six new ventures will pitch for two prizes: “Judges’ Choice” and “Crowd Favorite.” The latter, presented by SunTrust Bank, allows the audience to cast their vote for their favorite pitch through an interactive voting process. Cash prizes will be awarded in both categories, equaling $10,000. The companies, in alphabetical order, are:

In addition, “Startup Day” also features the presentation of the annual “Traction Award,” sponsored by the UT Federal Credit Union. Finalists are:

  • MomSource Network, the company founded by Courtney Jones and focused on helping individuals reenter the workforce after leaving for a variety of reasons such as having a baby;
  • Smart RIA, a start-up led by Mac Bartine that markets a software platform that simplifies compliance for the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) industry; and
  • T&T Scientific, a company co-founded by Graham Taylor and Nima Tamaddoni that produces low-cost, single use liposome extrusion devices that simplify the process of preparing liposomes for research laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and clinical settings.

“Startup Day” programming begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday (September 25) at The Mill & Mine and is scheduled to conclude at 5 p.m. Registration is still open; click here.

Events on Wednesday, September 26 and Thursday, September 27 include:

  • Maryville College’s “Innovation in the Liberal Arts” that is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Elkmont Exchange, 745 North Broadway. Click here for more information and to register.
  • Techmer PM’s “SHYFT Design + Innovation” that runs from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Click here for more information and a link to registration.
  • Two concurrent events are also scheduled for Thursday at the UT Research Foundation’s Business Incubator. The first is a special edition of the “Rise & Grind” series that starts at 1 p.m. Thursday. Immediately after it ends, there’s an open house at the facility. Click here to register for “Rise & Grind” and here for the open house.
  • Life Science Tennessee’s monthly “Beer & Biotech” is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Elkmont Exchange. Click here to register.

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