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September 08, 2021 | Tom Ballard

Six pitchers announced for Knoxville’s upcoming “Startup Day” competition

The Innov865 Alliance, organizer of the annual “Startup Day” event in Knoxville, announced yesterday the region’s six most investable new ventures that will vie for up to $10,000 in cash prizes at this year’s event set for October 5 at the Mill and Mine, 227 West Depot Avenue. The six are:

  • Endeavor Composites. Represented by President Hicham Ghossein, Endeavor is commercializing a technologylicensed exclusively from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) that implements an innovative mixer system for the hydroentanglement process. The innovation evolved around the ability to disperse long carbon fiber to produce, in a continuous scale, defect free non-woven mats and performs with excellent quality control. Ghossein was a participant in Cohort 3 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
  • Sentinel Devices. Represented by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Technical Lead Forrest Shriver, Sentinel Devices is a next-generation anomaly detection platform for industrial control systems. These devices allow any customer to build up a detailed, component-level knowledge base of the behavior of their plant, and they do this without incurring any additional cybersecurity risk. From initial installation to final shutdown, the device serves as a silent watchdog, keeping an eye on what matters so that the customers can accomplish their mission.
  • Summit Performance. Represented by John Sorochan, Summit Performance is a new company that uses PCT pending technology to measure the performance, playability, and safety of sports surfaces while simultaneously measuring the forces on the body during athlete-to-surface interactions. This technology is also able to test the traction, safety, and durability of different shoes for all purposes including sports, work boots, orthopedics, etc.
  • SkyNano. Co-Founded by Anna Douglas and one of three participants in the inaugural cohort of the “Innovation Crossroads” program, SkyNano has a patent-pending technology that utilizes a low cost manufacturing technique of high value carbon materials, using only inexpensive materials, electricity, and carbon dioxide as direct inputs. Relying on electrochemistry, SkyNano’s technique results in a highly efficient process to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful nanomaterials.
  • Uncat. Co-Founded by Brandon Bruce who also serves as the company’s CEO, Uncat is a web app used by accountants and bookkeepers to fix pesky uncategorized transactions with their clients and sync with QuickBooks Online.
  • CQI Insights. Co-Founded by Bruce Ramshaw, CQ Insights is a healthcare data consulting firm that assesses the value of any drug, divide or diagnostic tool as it relates to the patient care process using Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). Ramshaw is focused on helping reduce costs while also increasing patient outcomes and satisfaction.

“Our annual ‘Startup Day’ is meant to serve as a catalyst within the community, inspiring local entrepreneurs to invest in themselves and Knoxville’s prosperity,” said Grady Vanderhoofven, President and CEO of Three Roots Capital and a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “Innovation is a critical component in our lives. We are proud to commemorate the many trailblazers who established Knoxville’s foundation, as well as the entrepreneurs who have sprouted from that fertile soil.”

The “Startup Day” pitch competition will be judged by a three-person panel with two prizes up for grabs: (1) the “Innov865 Judges’ Choice” prize; and (2) the “Innov865 Crowd Favorite” prize, presented by Truist. The event will also feature the “Impact Award,” presented by Verizon, to a Knoxville entrepreneur who has made the greatest impact in their industry and community.

“Startup Day,” which is free and open to the public, is the signature event during “Innov865 Week” which runs October 4-8. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and tickets are available online. Due to limited capacity, those wishing to attend should register as soon as possible to reserve a spot.

In addition to Three Roots Capital, other founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include UTRF; ORNL; PYA, the power behind; UT Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Launch Tennessee; Knoxville Chamber of Commerce; Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm; City of Knoxville; and Bunker Labs Knoxville.

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