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January 24, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Nth Cycle is a finalist in this year’s SXSW pitch event, three others with TN ties are alternates

One start-up with ties to the region has been selected as one of 45 finalists that will compete in March at “SXSW Pitch®” during the annual South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals in Austin. In addition, two Tennessee start-ups and another whose Chief Technology Officer is from Knoxville have been named alternates that could move up should others not been able to compete.

Nth Cycle, the innovative metal processing and recycling technology company that was a member of Cohort 2 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is now based in Boston, has been selected as a finalist in the “Innovative World Technologies” category for the event set for the weekend of March 12 and 13.

Co-founded by Chief Executive Officer Megan O’Connor, Nth Cycle has engineered and developed an environmentally friendly process called electro-extraction that recovers critical minerals such as cobalt and nickel. In less than 12 months, the company has scaled its technology by 100x from bench-scale to a full commercial demonstration, which will be deployed by April 2022. The technology allows recyclers and miners to recover critical minerals from batteries and mine site waste using only electricity and carbon filters. Electro-extraction is a cleaner, lower-cost alternative to the conventional, and prohibitively dirty pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy processes currently used by battery recyclers and mining companies.

Those named as alternates include:

  • Barometer, a Chattanooga-based start-up in the “Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Voice” category that uses artificial intelligence to analyze text, from tweets, to news, to podcast transcripts, and outputs consistent ratings to inform decision makers at companies and marketing agencies, managing content at scale;
  • VODIUM, a Nashville company in the “Future of Work” category, empowers professionals to be the most effective communicators on video through its transparent technology, VODIUM allows individuals to read their remarks while also maintaining eye contact when presenting virtually.
  • Pluto Health of Durham, NC, an alternate in the “Health, Wearables and Wellbeing” category, is a multi-functional, automated technology that aggregates electronic health record data within minutes, harmonizes it to highly usable levels, identifies gaps in care, and connects patients with care insights and opportunities. The start-up’s Chief Technology Officer is Guru Kira of Knoxville.

In a news release announcing Nth Cycle’s selection, O’Connor wrote, “We are in the midst of an urgent energy transition that will require supplies of critical minerals in North America that simply do not exist. The world desperately needs a more reliable critical mineral supply, but the crippling financial and environmental costs of securing one have been a considerable barrier to an energy transition. Our technology removes these barriers and clears the path to an accelerated clean energy future. We are thrilled to be a part of this community of disrupters and thank SXSW for the opportunity to participate in the SXSW pitch.”

A total of 655 companies applied to pitch in the nine categories during the 14th annual event formerly known as the SXSW Accelerator. Five finalists were named in each grouping plus three alternates. The other categories are: (1) “Social and Culture Technology,” (2) “Enterprise and Smart Data Technology”; (3) “Entertainment and Content Technology”; (4) “Extended Reality and Immersive Technology”; and (5) “Smart Cities, Transportation and Logistics.”

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