Tech 2020 assumes leadership for autoXLR8R

Tech 2020Shawn Carson of Tech 2020 calls the relocation of the autoXLR8R program to Tech 2020 “a next logical step” for both his organization and the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneurial Centers (SMTEC).

Dan Marcum, SMTEC Executive Director, confirmed the move last Friday in an interview with Milt Capps of Venture Tennessee Connections.

Tech 2020 was a subcontractor to SMTEC for the 2014 accelerator program focused on automotive technologies. Jack Sisk, a long-time General Motors (GM) staffer who served as last year’s Program Manager, is joining the Tech 2020 team to offer his expertise.

“He has great contacts with the automotive industry across the region,” Carson explained. After retiring from GM, Sisk worked for several years as a consultant for the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services

More recently, Sisk has been involved with one of the 2014 autoXLR8R start-ups – APLAIR Manufacturing Solutions, Inc. The Etowah-based company announced last week it had licensed technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

When dates for the 2015 program are finalized in the next few weeks, Carson said the Tech 2020 team will be embracing electronic educational technology (also called e-learning).

“We plan just three residency periods and will stay connected with the participants the remainder of the time through tools like WebEx,” he explained. This approach should open-up opportunities for entrepreneurs from a broader geographic area to participate due to a less lengthy residency period.

Tech 2020 and SMTEC have been discussing the transfer of the autoXLR8R for several months.

“It allows SMTEC to focus on its core competency – investing – and Tech 2020 to draw on its years of consulting with start-ups as well as our understanding of and access to intellectual property,” Carson explained.

We have posted many articles on the autoXLR8R since its launch three years ago. You can read them by typing “autoXLR8R” in the search box.

With the continued evolution of the region’s automotive industry and recent announcements such as Volkswagen’s R&D center in Chattanooga, expanding and enhancing a program like the autoXLR8R makes good sense.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Editor of is a member of the Board of Directors of Tech 2020.)

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