Innov865 Week to showcase Knoxville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Startup Day rebrands as a week-long series of events, September 19-23


Cortney Piper, or 865-789-2669

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The organizers of Startup Day announced the creation of Innov865 Week at the Tennessee Venture Challenge finale today. Innov865 Week is a week-long series of events, taking place September 19-23, 2016 to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.

Innov865 Week will feature Paul Singh and the North American Tech Tour, kick-off with the Kauffman Foundation’s Mayors Summit on Entrepreneurship and end with the signature event, Startup Day, Thursday, September 22, 2016.

Educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables and social events will be included in event programming throughout the week.

“East Tennessee has plenty to discover, celebrate and invest in when it comes to innovation, hence the name Innov865,” said Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA and member of the Innov865 Alliance. “Innov865 perfectly articulates what makes our region unique.”

Additionally, the Startup Day hosts will now be known collectively as the Innov865 Alliance. The brand represents a commitment to yearlong collaboration to develop, support and promote the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Innov865 Week serves as its signature showcase, but the alliance seeks to coordinate efforts throughout the year that celebrate entrepreneurship, showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase access to capital.

The Innov865 Alliance includes the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Launch Tennessee and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

With more than 500 attendees at Startup Day 2015, event organizers saw an opportunity to leverage growing interest and momentum by expanding the one day celebration to a week-long series of events for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, students and the East Tennessee community.

Innov865 Week will showcase the East Tennessee startups and entrepreneurs that continue to spin out new products and processes that change the way we live– from manufacturing the first 3D printed car to fighting cancer with protons and six global cable networks that bring content to more than 100 million homes worldwide.

For more information and to stay updated on events, visit:

Peroxygen Systems, Inc. $20K Winner of Tennessee Venture Challenge Competition

Knoxville, Tenn. Peroxygen Systems, Inc. claimed the winning prize during the 2016 Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC) Wednesday, April 6 at The Foundry, World’s Fair Park.

Ming Qi, of Peroxygen Systems, Inc. received $20,000 from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF). The winning team was one of six pitching their business idea to a panel of investors.

Shawn Butler, Austin Scott and Daniel Wiggins, of Farm Specific Technology LLC received the crowd favorite prize of $5,000, voted on by attendees through a text-in voting system, and sponsored by Launch Tennessee. Second and third place winners were Farm Specific Technology LLC and CZ Nutrition winning $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. Farm Specific Technology LLC won a total of $8,000 for its 2nd place and crowd favorite finishes.

“We’re pleased to present Peroxygen Systems with this honor and look forward to seeing how Peroxygen Systems grows in the future,” said Stacey S. Patterson, Ph.D., UTRF Vice President. “The 2016 Tennessee Venture Challenge saw technologies that represented the broad spectrum of research occurring at the University of Tennessee that have the potential to solve problems and bring tremendous innovations to the global marketplace.”

Peroxygen Systems, Inc. is changing the cumbersome hydrogen peroxide production and delivery process, making it not only energy efficient but cost effective. Hydrogen peroxide is used for its oxidizing properties, working as a bleaching agent and as a disinfectant against bacteria, viruses, spores and yeasts.

Farm Specific Technology LLC won the $5,000 crowd favorite prize sponsored by Launch Tennessee. The company is patenting the Flex Roller Crimper, a flexible twist on a piece of farm equipment used to manage cover crops and get rid of pesky weeds.

A panel of four investor judges scored all presentations on a variety of criteria including: explanation of product/service and the problem it solves; uniqueness of product; sizable market opportunity and ability to penetrate that market; development stage; viable business model and clear measures of success.

This year’s panel of investor judges included Ken Woody, Innova Memphis; Grady Vanderhoofven, Meritus Ventures; Brian Laden, TriStar Technology Ventures; and Tim Wilson, Artiman Ventures.

TVC 2016 preparation began in early February with a seven-week entrepreneurial boot camp that helped inventors define their market and refine their pitch. At the end of the seven-week series, nine potential startups competed in the TVC semifinals. During the semifinals, the field was narrowed to the six teams that competed in the final event.

“Moving intellectual property from the lab into the marketplace is one of UTRF’s primary functions, and we’re excited about the enthusiasm for commercialization we’ve seen among the UT research community during this competition,” said Stacey S. Patterson, Ph.D., UTRF Vice President.

QuickSod, a soilless sod product developed by University of Tennessee professor John Sorochan, Ph.D., was the winner of the inaugural TVC in 2014.

About The Tennessee Venture Challenge

The Tennessee Venture Challenge is hosted by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation as is a business plan competition for the University of Tennessee community. To be eligible for the competition, potential startup companies must be commercializing intellectual property created at a UT campus or institute. For more information, visit

About the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF)

UTRF helps inventors at UT turn their ideas and discoveries into products and services that benefit society. In addition to supporting the university research enterprise and commercializing the resulting inventions, UTRF also supports entrepreneurship as well as state and regional economic development efforts. UTRF serves all seven of the UT campuses and institutes across the state.  For more information, visit

UTRF Marketing Contact
Melissa Dos Santos

“Spark!” showcases promising technologies, exciting new companies

spark-1When conversations occur about the uniqueness of the Knoxville-Oak Ridge entrepreneurial ecosystem, they invariably quickly focus on the importance of capitalizing on the research undertaken at the University of Tennessee (UT) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Some of those most promising technologies were on display yesterday afternoon when the sixth annual “Spark!” technology forum, co-hosted by UT and ORNL, was held for the first time ever in Downtown Knoxville. The location was symbolic in several ways.

“We are sharing with you our most promising new technologies and capabilities and companies,” Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial and Economic Development Partnerships, said in his opening comments. “We want to tell you what time it is, not how to build a watch.”


spark-3 spark-2

Dobson, ACG announce fund to support coding cohort in KEC’s “The Works” accelerator

On April 19, 2016, Eric Dobson with Angel Capital Group (ACG) announced that he will be leading an effort to raise $250,000 in seed funding to support startups participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) accelerator program. Under this plan, accredited individuals will be able to invest in a new entity named The KEC Fund, LLC. Managed by ACG, the fund will draw on the organization’s existing infrastructure, and invest an equal amount in each of the start-ups selected for this year’s ‘The Works’ accelerator program. KEC will select the finalists with input from the new fund’s members. This is a major commitment for Dobson, who has witnessed the impact that early investments in accelerator-based start-ups can have in ensuring long-term success.

“We hope this helps us attract new investors for this critical segment of our local economy,” Dobson explained. “We have great leadership with the KEC. Now, it is time for a grassroots, community-based fund to help take the KEC program to the next logical level, on par with its peers around the state.”

Dobson’s announcement follows KEC’s call for applicants to participate in the ‘The Works,’ a merger of the organization’s ‘MediaWorks’ program and ‘CodeWorks’ accelerator. The new program will be a single multi-week accelerator with two cohorts – one composed of content creators for social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram and the other comprised of software engineers developing products.

Read the full story on the website.