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September 06, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Many opportunities offered during upcoming “Innov865 Week”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

There’s a baker’s dozen set of events scheduled for the 2022 edition of Knoxville’s “Innov865 Week,” including one offered daily over the eight-day period that kicks-off in 10 days, and there could be a few more opportunities added in the coming days.

The two premier events are The Maker City Summit and “Startup Day.”

“The Maker City Summit”

The annual celebration of the region’s ever-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem begins on Friday, September 16, with “The Maker City Summit” that now spans three days and 30 different speakers involved in keynote presentations, panel discussions, break-out sessions, and guided networking – all centered around storytelling, connections, and innovation. The first day is networking, while Saturday and Sunday focus on small business needs. The full agenda and a link to registration can be found here.

Annual “Startup Day”

The annual “Startup Day” occupies its normal Tuesday afternoon timeslot on September 20. Six start-ups representing the region’s diversity in types of start-ups and founders will pitch for up to $10,000 in prize money. Those pitching are:

  • Femeika Elliott, Creator of The Lotus Program that, as part of her Meik Meals, is focused on in-home postpartum chef service tailored to mothers and the winner of the 2022 edition of “What’s the Big Idea?”;
  • Ryan Ginder, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Windfall Inc., a participant in the just concluded inaugural cohort of the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” that is focused on closing the loop on fiberglass composites by recycling items like windmill blades for other uses;
  • Doug Mapp, Founder of ThinkUP, a cognitive development consultation organization, and a participant in a recent cohort of the “100Knoxville” initiative;
  • John Phillips, Founder of Primeaux, a manufacturer of world class hand-made kitchen cutlery and cookware;
  • Don DeRosa, Co-Founder and CEO of Eonix, an alum of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that is focused on reducing the time and cost to design new materials for lithium-ion batteries; and
  • Alex Weber, Founder and President of D3D LLC, a participant in Bunker Labs inaugural “Veterans in Residence” program and a provider of extended reality software development and IT consulting services.

In a first for “Startup Day,” the judges are all women: (1) Carol Carden, Managing Principal of Valuation Services at PYA, a founding member of the “Innov865 Alliance”; (2) Tanika Harper, Founder of Harper’s Naturals and Co-Founder of Elite Facility Maintenance and The Women Foundation; and (3) Jenna Johns, Chief Operating Officer of RDI Technologies Inc.

“Startup Day” will also feature a fireside chat with a mix of Knoxville companies and Lindsey Cox, CEO of Launch Tennessee. Anna Douglas, Co-Founder and CEO of SkyNano LLC, is making great progress since becoming a participant in the inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” program and more recently graduating from the “Spark Innovation Center.” Corey Tyree, Founder and CEO of Trillium Renewable Chemicals, is a relative new addition to the Knoxville start-up community. His company recently closed an $11 million Series A financing round and obtained an additional $2.5 million from the Department of Energy. Finally, Abhi Sastri, Founder and CEO of FLUIX Inc., decided to continue a Knoxville presence after completing the inaugural cohort of the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.”

To register for “Startup Day,” click here.

Other Events

  • Throughout the eight-day run, Knox Brew Tours will be offering its popular “Downtown Walking Tour” that explores the downtown area and its history while participants sip craft beers that call Knoxville home. Times vary depending on the day, so check the “Innov865 Week” calendar here.
  • There’s a special opportunity on Sunday morning, September 18, when Visit Knoxville offers a virtual tour of the iconic Sunsphere, constructed 40 years ago as the symbol of the 1982 World’s Fair. Registration link is here.
  • On Monday, September 19, PYA, the power behind, will host a “Valuation Lunch and Learn” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required (link here). Anna Bhat, PYA Principal who specializes in valuation and related consulting services, will lead the discussion.
  • On September 21, the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville will host the next to last session for the Fall Semester in its twice-a-year “Vol Court Speakers Series and Pitch Competition.” The one-hour event begins at 5:15 p.m. in Room 303 of the Haslam Business Building. Also, Let Her Speak will host a follow-on “Women’s Capital Series Happy Hour” from 6 to 8 p.m. at Frog Juice Boocherie, 2920 Sutherland Ave Registration is at this link.
  • On September 22, there are several opportunities. Gotta Know Knoxville will offer a two-hour walking tour to learn about history, attractions, venues, and retail outlets in the Knoxville area. Registration link is here. ORNL will offer its “Innovation Crossroads Showcase” from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Knoxville Chamber’s Market Room (click here to register), and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center will host its second “Made for Knoxville LIVE” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Square Room on Market Square (click here to register).
  • The final event of the week is set for 12 noon to 1 p.m. and features Tricia Martinez, Managing Director of the “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator,” and Samer Saab, Senior Vice President of Product at Alloy Labs, in a discussion about angel investing. It will be held at the Techstars location, 465 South Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. To register, click here.

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