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September 24, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Winter Innovations captures both top awards in Knoxville’s 2019 “Startup Day”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

For the second consecutive year, a local company captured both prizes in the pitch competition held during the annual “Startup Day” Knoxville.

Winter Innovations, founded by Lia Winter, was crowned the 2019 “Judge’s Choice” winner as well as the “Crowd Favorite” in the competition yesterday afternoon that drew nearly 300 people to The Mill & Mine on West Depot Avenue. The “Crowd Favorite” award is sponsored by SunTrust Bank.

By winning both prizes, Winter Innovations took home $10,000 to further advance the development of its EasyWhipTM device used for orthopedic reconstruction procedures. During her pitch, Winter told the judges that $10,000 would allow the start-up to secure 1,000 needles which is the minimum needed to begin the 510(k)-clearance process of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If everything goes as planned, the company could begin limited market release in Tennessee in about a year. Winter launched the company while an undergraduate student and has captured numerous student-focused pitch competitions across the U.S. and even in Canada.

Just a year ago, StoragePug, which provides software to support small self-storage operators, captured both awards and went on to report a 300 percent increase in monthly recurring revenue in the next 12 months.

Judges for the competition were Ted Serbinski, Managing Director of Techstars Mobility in Detroit; Richard Dapaah, Venture Partner with FundRX and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center Executive-in-Residence; and Sue Malone, President of Strategies for Small Business who travels each year from San Francisco for this event.

Others who competed in the annual pitch competition were

  • Active Energy, a participant in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” cohort that is focused on offering ultra-efficient, low-cost thermal energy storage utilizing the world’s first “icephobic coating,” a patent-pending invention that creates a surface impervious to freezing water, thus improving cooling performance by completely eliminating ice build-up.
  • EDP Biotech, a frequent generator of articles in biz that is a medical device diagnostics company with novel platform technology enabling earlier detection of diseases such as colorectal cancer, using machine learning and multiplexing to perform more advanced and efficient blood tests.
  • Reviewbox, an e-commerce software platform that enables brands and manufacturers to track product reviews and sales data across online retail sites like Amazon, providing visibility into every aspect of an e-commerce business and connecting companies directly with their customers.
  • SmartRIA, another company spotlighted recently on biz that is marketing a software platform with proprietary technology that simplifies compliance for investment advisors, saving firms and hybrid firms time and money in maintaining compliance with federal and state regulations.
  • TCPoly, another ORNL “Innovation Crossroads” company from Cohort 2 that is developing advanced materials and technology, including the world’s highest thermal conductivity filament (50x higher than traditional plastics). When combined with the design freedom of 3D printing, can be used to make lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and high-performance heat transfer components.
  • Winter Innovations, the medical device company featured more than any of the others on biz that has invented the EasyWhipTM specialty needle that improves the stability, speed, and efficiency of graft stitching, a critical component of surgery for torn ligaments and tendons.

“Startup Day” is an initiative of the “Innov865 Alliance” whose founding members are the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; PYA, the power behind; UT Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Three Roots Capital; Tennessee Valley Authority; Launch Tennessee; Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; UT Research Park; and Bunker Labs Knoxville.

Here are the sponsors and “Innov865 Alliance” members with Winter after the announcements.

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