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September 15, 2019 | Tom Ballard

“Scipreneur Challenge” well underway with teams formed

More than a dozen University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville students are off and running to build business plans as part of the inaugural “Scipreneur Challenge” hosted by the Knoxville Chapter of Life Science Tennessee’s (LST) Academic Alliance.

The group held its kick-off on September 5 and got their assignments this past Thursday night where they also heard from Eric Mayer, Chief Executive Officer of EDP BioTech Corporation. The Knoxville company is focused on early detection testing for colorectal cancer, and Mayer has been a part of its executive team since early 2013 and headed business development for a sister company earlier.

“If you don’t remember anything else about my talk, remember this is an iterative process,” Mayer told those who gathered at the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy on Thursday night. He was referencing the development of the business model for the companies that five teams of students will finalize during the “Scipreneur Challenge.”

The effort is built around technologies provided by either the UT Research Foundation or Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Between now and the finale presentations on November 7, the students will develop their ideas on the best strategies to start and grow a viable business for their assigned technology.

The technologies are:

  • ProFECT Plus – NonCationic-Lipid Nanoparticles for siRNA Encapsulation and Delivery;
  • Integration of Photosystem I Nano Discs into Biohybrid Solar Devices for the Sustainable Production of Electricity;
  • CellSight: Rapid Native Single Cell Mass Spectrometry;
  • Bacterial Quantitative Trait-Locus Mapping; and
  • NanoFermentation:  Nanoparticles from Bacteria.

Drawing on his personal experience with the evolution of EDP BioTech, sister start-up BioPet, and four other enterprises, Mayer emphasized the importance of the customer discovery process and the constant iterations that occur as founders learn more about market potential and market needs.

His presentation generated a number of questions from the roughly one dozen students in attendance as Mayer brainstormed with three of the teams about their technology and their initial thoughts about the various elements of the business model.

Pictured below are Kate Halter, one of the key leaders of the Knoxville Chapter of LST’s Academic Alliance; Mayer; and the weekly session schedule leading up to November 7. To learn more about the “Scipreneur Challenge,” read our recent teknovation/.biz article here.