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Teknovation News and Notes
December 11, 2022 | Tom Ballard

There’s positive news and one downer in this week’s “News & Notes” feature

There’s a new pitch competition coming to Maryville, another entrepreneur center is asking for input about future priorities, and a longtime and well-respected faculty member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) who worked with many companies has died.

From Knoxville:

  • The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) is asking local residents to devote seven minutes to a survey. Noting that the city “has become a thriving hub of entrepreneurship,” KEC Executive Director Jim Biggs is seeking input on: (1) “how we as a community got where we are today”; (2) “where we want to go from here”; and (3) “what it will take to get there.” The survey can be found here.
  • For the second week in a row, we also have sad news to share. Rapinder “Rupy” Sawhney, a longtime faculty member in the UTK Tickle College of Engineering, has died. Among other roles, he was Director of the Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education and well-known and respected for working with industries locally and beyond. Tickle College Dean Matthew Mench noted that “his focus on engineering better outcomes in the workplace led to the development of the Sawhney Model, a globally recognized method of improving both productivity and the health of workers, further cementing his legacy for putting people first.” The family will receive friends from 6 to 7:30 p.m. December 12 at Rose Funeral and Cremation-Mann, 6200 Kingston Pike.  From a personal perspective, we will always remember his warm, infectious smile and a desire to help others. Rest in peace, Rupy.

From Maryville:

The Sky City Entrepreneur Center has announced a new pitch competition named Launchpad. According to the announcement, the event, scheduled for February 16 at SkyView at Broadway Social, will feature five entrepreneurs in front of three judges and a live audience, with two ways to win. The judges will award $2,500, while those in the audience can purchase “votes” at $5 per vote and select their favorite start-up. Sky City is seeking both sponsors and those interested in pitching. Deadline for the latter is January 15. More information can be found here.

From Russellville:

John McMillan of Shockwave Motors Inc. is asking prospective customers for the company’s two planned electric vehicles – Defiant EV3 Roadster or Draco Sports TrikeTM – to indicate their commitment to purchase one of the models in the future. It is part of an effort to show venture capital firms that there is customer demand. “They would like for us to confirm ‘presales’,” McMillan says in an email. He is not asking for anything other than the verbal commitment at this stage. Those interested can so indicate at this link.

From Nashville:

  • The Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s Innovation Center, is launching a new Climate Innovation Accelerator in February that exclusively engages minority-owned small businesses or nonprofits. The 10-week, no-cost, executive education opportunity provides business owners and nonprofits an opportunity to gain insights from a corporate mentor with sustainability expertise and a student team dedicated to providing research and analysis for innovative opportunities that advance future-fit business and sustainability goals. The application deadline is January 20 at this link.
  • Applications are being accepted through January 6 for PreFlight, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center‘s four-month, in-person program that walks step-by-step with phase 1, idea-stage founders. Participants will be able to validate their business concept and build out their business plan with help from industry leaders. The new cohort kicks off February 6, and the application can be found here.

From Several East Tennessee Communities:

Three East Tennessee enterprises are among 242 recipients across the country of funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas. The three are: (1) Appalachian Equipment Solutions which will use a $1,680,000 business and industry loan to purchase a commercial facility in Athens; (2) National Parks Resort Lodge LLC in Sevier County that will use a $25 million business and industry loan to renovate and expand a hotel, conference center and water park; and (3) Three Roots Capital which will use a $57,554 “Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program” grant to conduct training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers.