Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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April 03, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Retirement celebration, other recognitions, expansions, and new initiatives top our “News & Notes” feature

Today’s weekly “News & Notes” feature includes two new recipients of the “Muddy Boot” award, a retirement celebration, the expansion of one of the region’s entrepreneur centers, a new entrepreneurship offering from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and FoundersForge, another opportunity for student entrepreneurs at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus (UTK), and a record from the “on fire” Music City.

From Oak Ridge:

  • The East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC) presented two delayed “Muddy Boot” awards during its weekly meeting on Friday. One went to State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) who represents seven counties including Roane which, in turn, includes portions of the City of Oak Ridge. The other “Muddy Boot” was presented to Bob Eby, a long-time business and community leader in Oak Ridge and the current Vice Chair of the State Board of Education. Started in 1973, the award honors the Manhattan Project founders of Oak Ridge, who worked through adverse conditions to build the community.
  • On his next to last day as ETEC President, Jim Campbell was honored at a Wednesday evening reception where he was roasted and also toasted by a number of individuals. They included former Third District U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp, Chattanooga attorney Wayne Cropp, long-time ETEC force Bob Van Hook, and Oak Ridge historian Ray Smith. There were also several mementoes presented to Campbell including this one from senior administrators from the various Oak Ridge-based based operations of the U.S. Department of Energy. Johnny Moore, Site Manager for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), presented this plaque on behalf of his colleagues.

From Knoxville and Oak Ridge:

Jack Dongarra, an innovator in computational software development who holds joint appointments at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and ORNL, will receive the 2021 “A M Turing Award” from the Association for Computing Machinery.

Often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computing,” the award carries a $1 million prize with financial support provided by Google. It is named for Alan Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing.

A force within the supercomputing community, Dongarra developed software packages that became standard in the industry, allowing high-performance computers to become increasingly more powerful in recent decades. His work laid a framework from which scientists and engineers made important discoveries and game-changing innovations in areas including big data analytics, healthcare, renewable energy, weather prediction, genomics and economics.

From Cookeville:

As previously noted, The Biz Foundry in Cookeville held a ribbon cutting this past week to celebrate its expansion into space adjacent to the existing location at 114 North Cedar Avenue. The expansion doubled the space that the member of Launch Tennessee’s Entrepreneur Center network has, adding add eight private offices along with additional conference room and co-working space. The picture at left of the ribbon cutting brought back memories from more than four years ago when we attended the open house after The Biz Foundry relocated from a facility owned by Cookeville Regional Medical Center to its current location in 2017. Click here for that article. Also pictured on the right are The Biz Foundry’s Jeff Brown with Heath Guinn of the Sync Space Entrepreneur Center in Kingsport who came for the festivities.

From Knoxville:

  • The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) announced that Dale Brosius has been appointed Interim CEO effective April 1, succeeding John Hopkins who announced earlier this year that he would be leaving after leading the organization for more than four years. Brosius has been IACMI’s Chief Commercialization Officer.
  • UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has announced that the application deadline for the next “Boyd Venture Challenge” is 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 15. The a seed fund grant competition is conducted in the spring semester each year, and student-run companies are awarded up to $30,000 in start-up capital. More details on eligibility and a link to the application can be found here.
  • Will Overstreet has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Operating Partner at Greater Sum Ventures (GSV). He’s a former Tennessee football player who went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons, founded Voices Heard Media, and later was part of the senior executive team at GRIDSMART. As far as GSV, it describes itself as “an entrepreneurial family office and business optimization consulting firm. We invest our own capital in middle market software and tech-enabled services companies.”

From Johnson City:

ETSU’s College of Business and Technology has announced a sponsorship aimed at mentoring the next generation of innovation makers and entrepreneurs taking part in the University School Entrepreneurship Club.

According to the announcement, the program is a key component of the college’s broader goal of proactively supporting the start-up community within the Appalachian Highlands. Entrepreneurship Club students will have access to local business leaders and learn key skills and tips from ETSU faculty guest speakers about the entrepreneurship mindset, team dynamics, problem-solving, and pitch practice. In addition to the sponsorship of the club, the college will also host a summer start-up bootcamp in partnership with FoundersForge, a Johnson City non-profit.

ETSU operates University School for the Washington County School System.

From Chattanooga:

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the region’s first Spanish-speaking business incubator program for Hispanics and Latinos is being launched just across the state border in Dalton, GA. It’s a 10-week initiative sponsored by Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Dalton Innovation Accelerator, and a South American entrepreneur who supports other Hispanic entrepreneurs. Applications are being accepted at this link.

From Nashville:

Citing a study by RealPage, a property management software provider, Axios Nashville reports that Music City is poised for the largest increase in the country in new apartments built this year — seven percent or more. All those tech workers needed to fill the burgeoning job market need somewhere to live!

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