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June 12, 2022 | Tom Ballard

This week’s “News & Notes” includes events and news about start-ups

It’s a true mix of item that are included in this week’s “News & Notes” feature. There are several “Save the Date” items, a number of posts from Nashville, and briefs from other parts of the country or world that have ties to this region.

From Knoxville:

File this under the “Save the Date” category for not just one but two events.

  • DriveElectricTN (DET) has announced that it will hold its inaugural “DET Momentum Summit” November 7 in the Student Union at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). The email announcing the event described it as including electric vehicle (EV) ride and drives, EV showcase, and expert panels. Details and event agenda will be forthcoming as is registration.
  • On November 8 and 9 in the same location, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Tennessee Clean Fuels will host the annual “Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo.”

From Nashville:

  • A UTK alumna has been named the first-ever Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC). Brittany N. Cole, who founded Career Thrivers to help businesses attract and retain diverse talent, will be responsible for further enhancing the EC’s “Twende’ program,” a Tennessee initiative working to amplify the voices of entrepreneurs of color and make it easier to connect them to resources in the state. Here’s the EC news release (EC Brittany N. Cole Hire 2022_).
  • Two start-ups that have common Co-Founders but operated separately announced that they will now operate under a single brand. The two are Decode Health and IQuity Labs that have collaborated for several years leveraging artificial intelligence to deliver on the power of genomic data. Going forward, the two that were co-founded by Chase Spurlock and Julia Polk will operate as Decode Health. Spurlock has served as its Chief Executive Officer, while Polk has served as Chief Strategy Officer and currently serves as an Executive Advisor to the company. Decode Health won the “AI Innovators Award” during “DataRobot AIX 22.” In a separate email, Polk said that she plans to spend more time engaged with the Nashville entrepreneurial community.
  • CareBridge, a provider of a value-based care solution for patients receiving home and community-based services, raised $140 million in funding. The round was led by Oak HC/FT, a firm that specializes in healthcare and FinTech. CareBridge intends to use the funds for continued geographic expansion, building a large database for home and community-based services, and expansion of services to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to an article in Naashville Inno, that puts its valuation at unicorn status.
  • IceBrekr is a permissions-based, virtual nametag type of utility,” says Founder Dave Castro of the Nashville-based start-up. In this article from Disrupt, he describes it as the networking platform for the next-generation networker. IceBrekr successfully identifies business professionals within a physical radius based on how those individuals want to be described and identified. Now, when professionals attend conferences and networking events, they will not be playing the numbers game – they will be connecting with the right people in the right moments, maximizing their time and their business opportunities.
  • The third annual “Nashville Cyber Security Summit” returns in a hybrid format (in-person and virtually live-streamed) June 22. The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT, and the event will be held at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. More details can be found here.

From Chattanooga:

Volkswagen of America has opened its Battery Engineering Lab (BEL) in Chattanooga to test and optimize batteries for all electric vehicles in the American marketplace. The $22 million, 32,000 square feet facility will enable Volkswagen to gain a competitive edge in the push to electric mobility. Coupled with the $800 million factory electrification in Chattanooga, the opening of the BEL is the latest step in Volkswagen’s $7.1 billion commitment to boost its product portfolio, R&D, and manufacturing capabilities in the North American region. The first American-assembled Volkswagen EV, the ID.4 compact SUV, is poised to roll off the assembly line in 2022.

From Cookeville:

Angela Regitko has been named as Upper Cumberland Regional Director for the Tennessee Department of Economic Development (ECD), effective today. She will succeed Cody Huddleston who is moving to the private sector. Regitko came to ECD as a Business Development Consultant in 2106.

From Idaho but With Knoxville Ties:

Hempitecture, which is headquartered in Idaho but whose Co-Founder is a participant in Cohort 5 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, posted a note and photo on its LinkedIn site saying its new manufacturing plant is almost complete. “Take a look inside our 33k SqFt facility, which will be home to our natural fiber insulation manufacturing technology,” the company posted. “Our facility will be 100% powered by renewable energy. This is the first hemp insulation manufacturing plant in the United States. Continue to follow along as we’ll be posting progress photos of the manufacturing equipment which arrives in mid-June.”

From Birmingham but With Knoxville Ties:

Boulo Solutions, which announced the acquisition of Knoxville-based MomSource Network in January (see article here), has announced another asset acquisition. This time, the company is Hello Career Guru, a digital career guide to help women advance professionally. With its latest acquisition, Boulo will now be able to offer its community of working mothers a personalized professional game plan with priorities, actions, and resources to develop and advance skills and behaviors. Click here to learn more.

From Stockholm but With Ties to Knoxville:

Eleanor Jones, Founder of Skintelligent, presented recently at the “Science of Aging 2022” conference in Sweden. Readers may recall that her start-up was one of the 10 participants in the inaugural “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.” In a LinkedIn post, she wrote about several learnings including: (1) David A. Sinclair Ph.D., A.O. is leading groundbreaking research on decoding and reversing biological aging through cellular reprogramming.; (2) there are skin care companies engaged in science-led innovation including Alessandra Zonari at OneSkin who is creating products that increase epidermal thickness and reduce aging markers; and (3) artificial intelligence (AI) will drive the next generation of skin health through on-demand, objective and science backed measurement.



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