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May 12, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Two Knoxville companies named winners in yesterday’s “Pitch for Good: Pandemic Edition” event

Knoxville companies captured two of the four prizes awarded during yesterday’s “Pitch for Good: Pandemic Edition” event hosted by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

The virtual pitch competition featured nine companies, selected from 100 applicants and divided equally into three categories: “Idea” stage; “Idea in Motion” stage, defined as recurring revenues of less than $25,000; and “Up and Running” stage, defined as recurring revenues of more than $25,000.

During opening comments ahead of the fast-paced one-minute pitches, both Jane Allen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the EC, and Margaret Dolan, President and CEO of Launch Tennessee expressed their enthusiasm and optimism because of the entrepreneurial spirit evident from the applications that were submitted for consideration.

“We are living in unprecedented times,” Allen said, noting that the event was designed to “shine a positive light” on those who are making a difference and showing willingness to try new approaches including pivoting.

Ironically, the two Knoxville winners have been spotlighted numerous times on

  • EDP Biotech Corporation captured first place and $2,000 in the “Idea in Motion” category for its recently launched COVID-19 antibody testing service and upcoming product. As Eric Mayer, the company’s CEO, told attendees at last week’s Knoxville Technology Council forum, EDP Biotech was ready to publish promising results of recent studies on its ColoPlex™ product to detect colorectal cancer at the end of February when the COVID-19 pandemic began to overtake the world. The company “hit the pause button” and explored how it could utilize the knowledge of its team and its facility to serve a higher purpose during the pandemic. The result was both running the antibody tests of others and developing its own test.
  • Qardian Labs, also pitching in the “Idea in Motion” category, won the audience favorite award while also earning kudos from several of the judges. The prize was free tuition for the EC’s upcoming 14-week virtual PreFlight program. As noted in a number of articles previously published, Founder Sofia Tomov has developed a way to apply artificial intelligence to heart disease risk assessment. It was also ironic that Qardian Labs won third place last year in the“Student Edition Live Pitch” held as part of Launch Tennessee’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” in Nashville.

The other winners were: (1) SCI USA in the “Idea” stage category; and (2) Filterjoy in the “Up and Running” category. As described by Stu Bostock, SCI USA is an idea to utilize emerging thermal imaging technology and advanced visual analytics to allow people to resume attending events. As described by Harry Hoover, Filterjoy was launched in April 2018 to make the process of replacing home air filters easier and more frequent. He and his partner recently added Filterjoy/athome where they are providing free air filters to ensure that homeowners stay as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 200 people tuned-in to watch the roughly 75-minute pitch event that also featured four celebrity judges. They were:

  • Tennessee Titans football legend Eddie George, Managing Partner of Edward George Wealth Management Group;
  • Current Tennessee Titans Lineman Rodger Saffold, Co-Founder of Rise Nation eSports Team;
  • Kix Brooks, the well-known county music artist and Owner of Arrington Vineyards; and
  • Colin Wayne, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Redline Steel and the person named by Forbes as its “Most Interesting Millennial Entrepreneur in America” in 2018.

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