Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
February 06, 2022 | Tom Ballard

This week’s “News & Notes” feature covers a number of areas

From Knoxville and Oak Ridge:

The budget that Governor Bill Lee presented last Monday night to a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly included fully funding the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII). The joint initiative builds on existing strengths and partnerships with UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and establishes a strategic presence for critical collaborative research, interdisciplinary education and workforce development. UT-ORII brings together world-leading scientists and engineers with students and faculty under one umbrella to provide innovative education, training and workforce development with a focus on areas of vital importance to Tennessee and our nation. The state made an initial investment of $8 million to establish UT-ORII in 2021, and the proposal for 2022-23 includes an additional $72 million investment, completing the state’s investment eight years ahead of schedule. You can re-read our September interview with Joan Bienvenue, UT-ORII’s Executive Director, here.

From Oak Ridge:

The East Tennessee Economic Council formally announced the awarding of two “Postma Young Professional Medals” and one “Muddy Boot Award” at the organization’s annual meeting held for the first time outside the Secret City. The event was this past Friday morning at the Airport Hilton Hotel in Alcoa, and two of those honored were presented their recognitions at earlier ceremonies that were recorded for viewing Friday. They were: (1) Megan Houchin, Director of Lean Six Sigma for Consolidated Nuclear Security (“Postma Medal”); and (2) Steve McCracken, retired long-time Department of Energy administrator (“Muddy Boot Award”). One recipient – Jennifer Tyrell, Senior Education Project Manager at Oak Ridge Associated Universities – was able to attend the in-person event and accept her “Postma Medal” that honors young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in Oak Ridge. The “Muddy Boot Award” recognizes individuals who continue the legacy of Oak Ridge’s founders to build and bolster the community’s economic base.

From Knoxville:

  • Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS) recently completed a seven-year multi-million-dollar research and development (R&D) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) which focused on the development of instrumentation and control system technologies for small modular reactors and other next-generation nuclear reactors. In addition, AMS was also awarded two vouchers under the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative which granted its researchers access to state-of-the-art facilities at the ORNL including the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) Gamma Irradiation Facility, Thermal Hydraulic Test Facility, Steam Plant, and Advanced Cable, Cryogenic, & Superconducting Technology Development Facility. Click here to learn more.
  • Separately, U.S. Patent No. 11,215,492 B2 was awarded to AMS’ Alexander Hashemian for an invention that makes it possible to measure fluid levels in a tank or vessel without an instrumentation penetration below the fluid surface, eliminating the possibility of a leak. The product of this invention that will be commercialized by AMS will be useful to small modular reactors, advanced reactors, and microreactors that are slated to be deployed in the U.S. and elsewhere over the next decade.
  • The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council will hold its annual member meeting on March 29. The exact time and agenda for the virtual meeting are forthcoming.
  • Hicham Ghossein, President and Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor Composites, has been elected to serve a two-year term on the Consortium Council of IACMI – The Composites Institute. The Council works with the Board of Directors of Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS), IACMI’s not-for-profit parent organization established by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, and IACMI staff to approve strategic plans, annual budgets, technical plans, projects, and IACMI Consortium activities. Ghossein is an alum of Cohort 3 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

From Cookeville:

A team of Tennessee Tech University students placed third out of 16 college hacking teams from around the world at the recent “Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition.” The event was held at the Rochester Institute of Technology. More details can be found here.

From Nashville:

  • Launch Tennessee has received a $100,000 grant from Truist Foundation to support and further the efforts of Twende, a statewide initiative to help founders of color start and grow their businesses. It is a year-long program offered by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC), part of the Launch Tennessee network partner. Twende is Kiswahili for “Let’s Go.”
  • Launch Tennessee also reminds interested college students that the deadline is next week for anyone interested in applying for the “Summer Internship Program.” More details can be found here.
  • Speaking of the EC, Heather McBee, its former Vice President for Operations, has been named Executive Director of Mending Hearts, an organization that helps women restore their lives from addiction through a long-term treatment program that offers hope and healing in a supportive community environment – regardless of the ability to pay. McBee co-founded Project Music, the first-ever incubator for music-tech entrepreneurs; led the development of Sony Music Nashville’s digital music business; and served at Cumulus Media, launching “America’s Morning Show” in more than 30 markets.
  • Speaking of Launch Tennessee, the Vice Chair of its Board of Directors has been elected a member of Baker Donelson’s Board of Directors by the firm’s shareholders. Bruce Doeg, a shareholder in the firm’s Nashville office and Co-Chair of the firm’s Privacy and Technology Center of Excellence, concentrates his practice in the area of business law with an emphasis on rapidly changing industries, including technology, digital health and life sciences. Previous leadership positions at Baker Donelson include roles as Chief Strategic Officer, Business Department Head and Nashville office Managing Shareholder. He also leads the firm’s Digital Health Initiative.

From Across Tennessee:

The BioTN Foundation-operated Life Science Mentor Network has welcomed two new start-ups – SeqTech Diagnostics (Nashville) and Yaya Scientific LLC (Franklin). They join already eight participating companies – Diatech Diabetes, HD Clean, Ichor Sciences, MiCare Path, Seqtech Diagnostics, VoluMetrix, Venusian Technologies, and Yaya Scientific LLC.

From Washington, DC:

The Appalachian Regional Commission is accepting applications through March 4 for the “Appalachian STEM Academy at Oak Ridge,” a residential, hands-on learning experience for Appalachia’s middle and high school students, as well as high school teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields. Hosted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the program was established more than 30 years ago. The middle school version is for rising 7-9th grade students in Appalachia and will be held July 16-22. The high school program, focused on rising 10-12th graders, will be held July 9-22, the same dates as the program for STEM teachers. More information can be found here.

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