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October 15, 2012 | Tom Ballard

SMTEC plans “Automotive Accelerator” next summer

The Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers (SMTEC) is planning a first-of-its-kind, at least in the South, “TennesSeed Camp Automotive Accelerator” next summer in Spring Hill.

Dan Marcum, SMTEC Executive Director, announced the group’s plans during last week’s “Southern Automotive Conference” in Chattanooga. Flyers were placed in the registration material provided to every conference attendee, and both Marcum and Jack Sisk, a former General Motors (GM) executive now involved with SMTEC, talked to many attendees throughout the two days.

“This is an intense entrepreneurial boot camp focused on identifying, commercializing, and funding high-potential innovative technologies applicable to the automotive industry,” Marcum said.

He and Sisk were both excited by the amount of attention placed on innovation during the conference (see yesterday’s article) and the interest expressed by a number of the universities in collaborating. The South’s universities are expected to be a source for the entrepreneurial teams that would compete in the boot camp.

Marcum described their concept as somewhat similar to two recent boot camps in Tennessee – “Zeroto510” in Memphis and “Gig Tank” in Chattanooga – as examples where entrepreneurs from other cities and states relocate for three months to participate in such an event.

The dates are May 13 through August 8 at the Northfield Workforce Development and Conference Center in Spring Hill that was headquarters for GM’s Saturn Corporation. It is also one of SMTEC’s two primary locations, the other being in Tullahoma.

Areas of emphasis for SMTEC include automotive, green energy, advanced manufacturing and materials, and information technology.

SMTEC is one of nine regional accelerators funded by the State of Tennessee. Marcum is expected to discuss his plans during a meeting of the accelerators on Wednesday in Nashville.

Marcum is also a founder of NEST TN, one of the state’s TNInvestco programs that were allocated a total of $200 million dollars in tax credits to help Tennessee companies grow.

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