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January 29, 2023 | Tom Ballard

New program launching for those focused on EVs, other smart mobility technologies

TennSMART seeking entrepreneurs and intellectual property to jumpstart the initiative.

TennSMART, the public-private statewide consortium focused on elevating Tennessee to the forefront of smart mobility solutions, is recruiting intellectual property (IP) and participants for its inaugural “Smart Mobility Challenge.”

The 11-week initiative is an entrepreneurship education program that uses active IP from Tennessee-based research and academic institutions to foster commercialization. Over the nearly three-month period, participants create a business based on the supplied IP, gaining hands-on experience in conceptualizing and creating a viable and marketable business opportunity for the technology.

“We are thrilled to offer this exciting program to students and entrepreneurs who may be interested in breaking into this fast-growing industry,” said Rich Davies, TennSMART Board President. “Our researchers are developing new technologies to advance smart mobility in Tennessee. Thanks to our partnership with Launch Tennessee, we are able to provide a program with the goal of bringing these innovations off the shelf and contribute to our state’s economic growth.”

If the program sounds somewhat familiar, it probably is, particularly to those who are generators of IP. The “Smart Mobility Challenge” is modelled along the lines of the “Scipreneur Challenge”  offered by the BioTN Foundation and will be led by Bryan Barringer, TennSMART’s Director of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, who successfully manages the “Scipreneur Challenge” for the life science industry.

The goal of the “Smart Mobility Challenge” is to launch real businesses with ongoing support from the TennSMART Mentor Network and other resource providers.

To fuel the new program, TennSMART is seeking IP and technology from Tennessee-based research institutions and universities related to: (1) electric vehicles and electrification; (2) connected and automated vehicles; (3) freight and logistics; (4) automotive; (5) cybersecurity; (6) multimodal commuting; and (7) aerospace. Universities can fill out the IP intake form here.

Participants can be graduate students and seniors in undergraduate programs, post docs, fellows and researchers, and even serial entrepreneurs. Participants must be willing to commit four-to-five hours of individual and group efforts per week from late February to late April. This includes a two-hour session every week as well as a final pitch event. Interested participants can complete this form.

“Commercializing technology is tricky,” said Barringer. “This program provides universities with a pathway for marketing their institutional research while giving students invaluable experience in commercialization and business-building.”

The cohort will kick off with an information sessional on February 15 in Tri-Cities followed by an event February 21 in Chattanooga to present the IP available for the challenge as well as formulate teams. Participants will then undergo eight weeks of two-hour, instructor-led classes (held virtually on Zoom). The “Smart Mobility Challenge” culminates with a Demo Day event and final pitch to TennSMART members and investors.

To learn more about TennSMART’s entrepreneurship and innovation programs, visit

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