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August 28, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Three UT-connected start-ups take top prizes in yesterday’s “Student Edition Live Pitch” competition

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Start-ups connected to the University of Tennessee (UT) – two from Knoxville and one from Chattanooga – captured three of the four awards made during yesterday’s “Student Edition Live Pitch” held as part of Launch Tennessee’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” in Nashville.

Quantum Lock Technologies LLC, founded by Erica Grant and spotlighted in this article, captured first place and the $25,000 top prize. It was the second recent win for the UT, Knoxville graduate student who captured first place and up to $10,000 in the annual “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” in March.

Second place and $15,000 went to eLab Repairs, founded by students at UT Chattanooga and Lee University, and third place went to Qardian Labs, founded by Sofia Tomov, another UT, Knoxville student. We spotlighted her initiative in this article. Tomov won $10,000.

Cogentis Therapeutics, a Vanderbilt University-connected pre-clinical biotech company that is working with the National Institutes of Health and academia on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, won the “Crowd Favorite” award and $10,000.

They were among 12 university-connected start-ups that competed in the annual event that is one of the highlights of the two-day festival in Downtown Nashville. The “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” continues today with a series of concurrent sessions and another pitch competition featuring start-ups nominated by LaunchTN’s partner organizations.

Quantum Lock is offering cutting-edge security that combines the power of quantum information with state-of-the-art encryption and user-friendly software; eLab Repairs installs, maintains, and repairs digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers, CNC routers, and laser cutters; and Qardian Labs provides artificial intelligence-based software solutions for making fast and accurate cardiac risk assessments.

Other competitors, in alphabetical order, were:

  • ARMS Cyber, a Vanderbilt University start-up that creates adaptive cyber defense technologies based on diversity, security, and resilience to make critical software applications unhackable.
  • Chito-Armor, a start-up connected to both the University of Memphis (UM) and the University of Tennessee (UT) Health Science Center that is developing a novel drug delivery-vehicle system to prevent and treat surgical site infections.
  • Compass, another UM start-up that is a courier company specializing in on demand delivery of HVAC parts, materials and equipment.
  • HeroWear LLC, a third Vanderbilt-related company developing assistive clothing solutions to reduce musculoskeletal injuries and associated medical costs for individuals in manual labor careers such as package handling or manufacturing.
  • Intelligent Systems, another Vanderbilt start-up that helps its clients monitor the vitals of their buildings to protect their occupants and property while saving time and resources through real time performance tracking, predictive analytics, and preventative maintenance measures.
  • Mimoma, a third UM company creating premium, stylish, protective underwear for children and teens who struggle daily with uncontrollable urination to fearlessly attend school and sleepovers.
  • QuikFix, founded by Rhodes College students as a way to connect local college students to homeowners or businesses that need an extra hand with small jobs or chores.
  • Winter Innovations, another UT Knoxville company that developed and is marketing invented EasyWhip, a patent-pending surgical needle designed to improve the speed and accuracy of the whip-stitching step in orthopedic reconstruction procedures like anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and rotator cuff surgeries


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