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September 17, 2020 | Tom Ballard

“Spark Innovation Center” holds its virtual ribbon cutting

As described in yesterday’s feature article in, the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Park hosted a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon for its new “Spark Innovation Center.”

More than 80 people tuned-in for the event, delivered via Lunchpool, that featured brief descriptions by the six inaugural participants along with welcoming remarks from UT President Randy Boyd, UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, and, by a pre-recorded video, Thomas Zacharia, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Tom Rogers, President and Chief Executive Officer of the UT Research Park, presided, introducing the various speakers. In his celebratory comments, Boyd noted that he was not the stereotypical entrepreneur who started Radio Systems in his garage. “I started in my grandmother’s basement,” he said, adding that the services the six start-ups will receive are just part of the benefits of the new Center. “The most important thing you are going to get is each other.”

Plowman described yesterday’s event as “a great day where ideas and actions come together,” while Kincannon celebrated the fact that the new initiative will help “nurture and grow some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Knoxville.”

The Mayor also described a personal connection she established more than a year ago with Anna Douglas, Co-Founder of SkyNano LLC, one of the inaugural start-ups in the Center. Kincannon said she was campaigning door-to-door on a hot July afternoon when she met Douglas and asked what should be the top priorities for the next Mayor.

“I need wet lab space,” Douglas told the Mayor, something that is now available to her in one of three labs. In the case of SkyNano, the company is sharing the lab space with Don DeRosa of Eonix.

Here are screen shots of speakers at yesterday’s event, starting with Rogers and John Bruck, Senior Business Advisor for Spark, along with those making welcoming remarks.










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