Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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Teknovation News and Notes
January 03, 2023 | Tom Ballard

News & Notes | Volunteer State highlights over the holidays

Here's a statewide innovation news roundup to start your week.

We were not publishing the past few weeks but that doesn’t mean we were hibernating. We were monitoring news items from across the state and are happy to provide a wrap-up for our readers.

From Knoxville:

  • Corey Tyree, Chief Executive Officer of Trillium Renewable Chemicals, will be the featured speaker at the first “Innovation Crossroads Founders’ Forum + Networking Happy Hour” of 2023. The event will be from 3 to 5 p.m. January 19 at Smoky Mountain Brewery, 11308 Parkside Drive. No pre-registration is required. The start-up recently announced more than $13 million in additional funding (see teknovation.biz article here).
  • Steven A. Coles has joined RegScale as General Manager, Public Sector. The start-up that has its headquarters in the Washington, DC area and its R&D operations here, cited Coles previous roles “for top companies in the security and technology spaces, leading teams to achieve successful business outcomes and garner industry accolades and nominations.”
  • The University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation released its “Discover 2022” report that: (1) pays tribute to three individuals who moved to new jobs during the year; (2) celebrates new hires; and (3) spotlights companies that licensed UT technologies.

From Oak Ridge:

The Oak Ridge Human Resource Association, which has been a separate nonprofit organization, has merged into the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and will be known at the Oak Ridge Human Resource Alliance.

From Cookeville:

The Biz Foundry has announced that applications are now being accepted for its annual “Made Here Market” that will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 29. Deadline to apply is January 31. Click here to learn more.

From Johnson City:

Ballad Ventures, the venture capital arm of Ballad Health, has joined with two other members of the AVIA Venture Network to expand and strengthen the TailorMed network. It is the nation’s largest network of patients, providers, pharmacies, life science companies, and other partners dedicated to improving healthcare affordability. The trio join a syndicate of prominent health systems that partner with TailorMed and advance its mission to help patients and healthcare entities tackle the financial challenges of care delivery.

“It’s fitting for Ballad Ventures to join forces with TailorMed; after all, we are the venture capital arm of a health system that has wholly committed itself to addressing social determinants of health within our patients and within our community – and healthcare affordability and access are crucial to that,” said John Perez, Managing Director of Ballad Ventures. “Ballad Ventures seeks to discover and advance innovative ideas and promote patient-centric care, and we are honored to support TailorMed in their initiative to put patients first by committing to breaking down barriers to care, making delivery more efficient, and reducing the total cost of treatment.”

From Nashville:

  • Two Vanderbilt University student start-ups are among 50 selected to participate in Baylor University’s 12th annual New Venture Competition, a multi-phase business plan and elevator pitch competition that showcases collegiate student created, managed and led ventures. The two are TuneHatch and EZread. Making the top 50 was round one and involved submitting a two-page executive summary. In round two, those teams making the first cut will submit a 10-page business plan. On March 24 and 25, the Top 10 teams from Round 2 will come to the Baylor campus in Waco to participate in feedback sessions and compete for the $50,000 grand prize. Click here to learn the names and universities of the other 48 semi-finalists.
  • Two virtual reality mental and behavioral health companies – one located in Nashville and the other in the United Kingdom –  merged and raised $13 million in Series B funding. The two are BehaVR, located in Music City, and OxfordVR. They will operate under the BehaVR brand while continuing to build evidence-based, immersive, digital therapeutics. The combined suite of clinically validated therapeutics offer access to treatments on a spectrum across mental wellness and mental and behavioral conditions, including validated treatments for serious mental illness. The company delivers these treatments on an integrated platform that simplifies the patient experience, enables clinician oversight, and generates patient-specific care plans and measurable outcomes.
  • Main Street Nashville reports that Fisk University is one step closer to a new center for innovation and entrepreneurship after Metro Council members voted to allocate $10 million in COVID-19 relief funds to support a renovation and upgrade of Burrus Hall. In the first-ever public-private partnership between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Fisk, the funding will be used to help establish a small business entrepreneurship and innovation facility to be a starting point for minority entrepreneurs and innovators to take their business ideas to the next level. More details can be found here.

From across the Volunteer State:

The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its “Farm to TapTM” campaign by kicking off a series of multi-media “Pioneer Stories.” The collection of video and blog posts highlights the relationships between Tennessee’s farmers and brewers. The series kicked-off with two spotlights: a video highlighting Willis Farms and Tennessee Brew Works and a blog post featuring Johnson City Brewing’s annual collaboration with Norris Family Farm. When we last checked, there were six spotlights.

From Washington, DC but with ties to Oak Ridge:

The Appalachian Regional Commission has opened applications for two summer study opportunities: the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy (AEA) and the Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge. Both programs, planned for summer 2023, are free intensive learning experiences specifically for the Appalachian Region’s high school and/or middle school students and teachers. AEA is a two-week program for 26 students hosted by Appalachian State University in Boone. NC, while the STEM Academy is hosted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities with students working alongside researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Application deadline for both programs is February 10.