Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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Teknovation News and Notes
February 05, 2023 | Tom Ballard

News & Notes | Recognitions, events, and appointments top the list

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

From Knoxville:

  • The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center has announced that its next “Made for Knoxville Meet Up” will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. February 13 at Ebony & Ivory Brewing, 2300 North Central Street, #Suite 101. “We are meeting IRL… in real life,” KEC writes in the announcement. “Our hope with this gathering is that it will include an eclectic mix of Knoxville entrepreneurs, bringing people from all over the entrepreneurial ecosystem together in one place. There will be no program, no speaker… Just cool people sharing space and stories with one another.” To register, click here.
  • Two start-ups with local ties have made lists of companies to watch in 2023. RegScale, the fast-growing start-up co-founded by Travis Howerton and operating its R&D center in Knoxville, was one of 10 companies that made DC Inno’s “Start-ups to Watch” listing, while Abhishek “Abhi” Sastri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FLUIX Inc., was one of five entrepreneurs recognized by the Florida High Tech Corridor as “2023 Innovators to Watch.”
  • The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has announced the lineup of speakers for the four sessions of the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.” First up is Derrick Davis, an intellectual property attorney, who kicks off the spring series at 5:15 p.m. February 8 in Room 402 of the Haslam Business Building. He’ll be followed the next week by Jake Rheude, Chief Marketing Officer of EcomHalo. Robyn Geron, ACEI’s newly named Director of Operations, will speak at the February 22 session, and Chris McAdoo, Director of Strategy and Engagement for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, is the featured speaker March 1 before the pitch competition on March 8.

From Vonore:

Genera, a manufacturer of domestically sourced and produced ag-based pulp and molded fiber products, announced that it has hired packaging industry veteran James Davidson as its new Chief Commercial Officer in charge of developing the company’s commercial strategy and rapid expansion plans.

Davidson has more than 20 years of experience in progressive packaging industry leadership roles in sales, marketing, operations and product development. His background in delivering strategies to increase commercial sales and marketing and identifying new business pipelines to boost revenue positions him to lead Genera’s sales growth, taking advantage of the company’s rapidly  expanding production capacity.

Last year, Genera was acquired by Ara Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in industrial decarbonization investments. As part of the purchase, Ara committed up to $200 million in additional capital to support significant expansion of the company’s sustainable pulp and packaging business.

From Nashville but with Statewide Implications:

Launch Tennessee has announced that the organization is recruiting for a Director of Commercialization. Reporting directly to Lindsey Cox, Chief Executive Officer, the individual who is selected will focus on three key areas: (1) serving as direct commercialization support to founders who are taking their technologies from lab to market; (2) developing, collaborating, leading and executing on grant opportunities aligned with Launch Tennessee, research institutions, and higher education collaborators; and (3) supporting and growing the vision for statewide resources for commercialization, including building new programmatic opportunities.

According to the job description, preferred qualifications include some combination of: (1) a Ph.D. or terminal degree in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field; (2) experience as a deep tech start-up founder; (3) background in venture capital, with a specific emphasis on investing in hard tech or deep science ventures; and (4) experience working in federal or state innovation policy and programming.

From Nashville:

  • FCA Venture Partners, a healthcare technology venture capital firm, has announced that FCA Health Innovations II (FCA HI II) held its final close with more than $71 million in capital commitments, well over the fund’s initial target of $50 million. With the launch of this fund, the firm will continue its successful strategy in supporting seed and Series A stage companies within the digital health and technology-enabled healthcare services landscape. FCA HI II commitments came from a broad group of premier healthcare organizations in North Carolina, including six large health systems and a major payor, as well as several family offices, healthcare executives, entrepreneurs and providers, and individual investors.
  • Jumpstart Foundry (JSF) is hosting its biennial “First Look” at the start-ups comprising its “JSF Fall 2022 Cohort” in a virtual event beginning at 12:30 p.m. CST February 24. The companies are Add Your LabsBearabillBehaiviorbekomeCareCrown, CliniSpan HealthHealthibleHiPR Innovation, Hush Biomed, mignMy Smile ChoicesNewGait, PilleveSanitas HealthThaddeus Medical Systems, VidaEats, and Vizrom. After brief pitches by each, there will be individual rooms where those interested in learning more can interact with the founders. To register, click here.

From Boston but with Oak Ridge Ties:

“Innovation Crossroads” alum Nth Cycle has been nominated for the EarthShot Prize for 2023. Created by the Prince and Princess of Wales, the award, as described here, “aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism that we can rise to the biggest challenges of our time. The Prize is about much more than awarding achievement – it is a decade of action to convene the environmental world with funders, businesses and individuals to maximise impact and take solutions to scale, to celebrate the people and places driving change; and to inspire people all over the world to work together to repair the planet.”

From Memphis:

Seven start-ups participating in the latest “AgLaunch365 Accelerator” will pitch their cutting-edge technologies that aid row crop and livestock producers during the “2023 Start-up Demo Night” in Memphis. The event, scheduled for 6 p.m. CST February 22, will be held at The Halloran Center in Downtown Memphis. To register, click here.

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