UT Federal Credit Union Traction Award Nominees Announced

Knoxville’s entrepreneurial success will soon be recognized once again at the fourth annual Startup Day, September 22. The Innov865 Alliance announced its 2016 nominees for the UT Federal Credit Union Traction Award, presented to a Startup Day alum who has made the most progress, or gained the most ‘traction,’ since pitching their business at Startup Day. Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week, a week-long series of events that celebrates entrepreneurship and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow a business.

“The Traction Award nominees are key players in building East Tennessee’s entrepreneurial community. It’s exciting to see this caliber of company growing in this region. These founders set a great example for their peers,” said Jill Van Beke, Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Launch Tennessee. Launch Tennessee is a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance.

“UT Federal Credit Union is pleased to sponsor the Traction Award and recognize the achievements of our East Tennessee entrepreneurs who will continue to thrive in our community,” said Myra Hamilton, AVP of Business Lending at UT Federal Credit Union.

ARiES Energy was the 2015 recipient of the UTFCU Traction Award. This year ARiES Energy began construction on a community solar array for the Appalachian Electric Cooperative. It’s one of the first utility-scale community solar projects in the state.

The Innov865 Alliance selected the following three nominees this year:

Bob Bradley, NewsBreak   What started out as a digital-out-of-home media business that provided local news and advertising to pump top television screens at Knoxville-area gas stations in 2009, has since evolved into a predictive analytics software company that supports convenience store retailers’ quest to drive high profit margin products and services. NewsBreak is the brainchild of President/CEO Bob Bradley, a 2014 Knoxville Startup Day alum who became an investor in the company in 2011. He’s since taken the start-up digital company to national prominence. NewsBreak’s programmatic merchandising platform converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers and is currently available across 5 states, with expected growth to reach 300 convenience stores by the end of this year, up from 88 locations at the end of 2014.  Earlier this year, NewsBreak opened its first site in the state of Utah through a strategic partnership with Sinclair Oil and Bennett Pump Company. The deal makes NewsBreak available to not only 1,400 Sinclair branded stations in 19 states, but the 6,000 fueling retailer locations across the U.S that are currently served by the third largest fuel pump manufacturer in the world, Bennett Pump Company.

Bryan Crosby, FunLPro Technology   A 2015 Startup Day alum, Bryan Crosby founded his company, FunLPro Technology LLC, to capitalize on a pouring device his father invented to simplify the process of transferring fluids.  His patented closure system provides a lengthy, extendible, and directional pouring spout within the closure system itself, and eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as traditional funnels, which can result in spills and contamination due to cross mixing of fluids.  Since Startup Day 2015, Crosby has graduated from the University of Tennessee with his MBA and is focusing his energies on FunLPro full time. His current push includes breaking into the retail market. The company has two product offerings: an Integrated Product that is bottled directly onto the container and available at point of sale, and a Retail Cap segment that can be purchased at select retailers and added on to whichever fluid a customer chooses. FunLPro Integrated Caps are currently available on KenJo Lubricants in all of their retail locations. Crosby plans to bring the Retail Caps into major distribution this fall. Also in the works is a line of private label products, one of which, FunLPro’s Magna 1 brand, is being marketed to over 80,000 convenience store chains. FunLPro was recently nominated by Plastics News, the largest trade journal in the consumer packaged goods industry, for their inaugural Plastic Caps and Closures Innovation Awards.

Courtney Jones, MomSource Network   Courtney Jones, founder of MomSource Network and 2014 Startup Day Alum, started her company to help others, like herself, who wanted more flexibility in their employment, as well as the ability to fulfill their personal happiness without compromising their professional ambitions. MomSource Network serves as a conduit for job candidates, allowing them build an online profile about the type of employment they are looking for and notifying them when opportunities arise that fit their skill set and schedule. Likewise, employers are invited to build a profile with MomSource and are sent resumes of fully vetted candidates that match their hiring requirements. The company has gone from two employees in Knoxville to a team of fifteen spread across seven cities in four states, the newest addition being an outpost in Atlanta. The candidate pool has grown as well, from 200 local candidates at Startup Day 2014 to over 3,000 in both the United States and other countries.


Startup Day is free and open to the public. Registration is required at http://innov865week.com/register/


About UT Federal Credit Union  

UT Federal Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative with more than 22,000 member-owners and assets of over $250 million. UT Federal Credit Union’s mission is to provide members with exceptional financial service, education and leadership. As winner of the Tennessee Small Business Administration Credit Union of the Year award each year since 2012, UT Federal Credit Union is dedicated to providing support to startups and small businesses in Tennessee. The heart of UT Federal Credit Union has always been and will always be its owners.

Startup Day Pitch Competition: Sponsors and Startups Announced

The Innov865 Alliance announced Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank as title sponsors for Startup Day’s pitch competition $5,000 cash prize. Six Knoxville-area startups have been selected to pitch their businesses for the prize at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville, Thursday, September 22. Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week, a week-long series of events that celebrates entrepreneurship and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow a business.

“Shining a spotlight on East Tennessee’s most promising startups is so important for the economic growth of our region,” said Tom Rogers, Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). ORNL is a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “The six startups selected to present at Startup Day 2016 represent a continuation of the great tradition of innovation in East Tennessee,” added Rogers.

“Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank are so pleased and honored to give one deserving local startup a financial kick-start to grow its business right here in East Tennessee,” said Monty Montgomery, President, SouthEast Bank. Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank are both title sponsors of the Startup Day pitch competition cash prize.

After winning the 2015 Startup Day cash prize, Bryan Crosby has made progress with his business, FunLPro Technology. Crosby has since graduated from the University of Tennessee with his MBA and is focused on FunLPro full time. The company’s 38 mm standard pouring device—that eliminates the need to purchase, store, and reuse separate pouring devices such as a traditional funnel– is now available at convenience stores in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.

The Innov865 Alliance selected the following six startups to present their businesses before a panel of investor judges on September 22 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, presented by Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank.

Daniel Lawhon, AirFlare   AirFlare partnered with NASA to use its metabolic analysis technology to develop a fitness tracker that can personalize a person’s workouts, diet, and fitness plans based on their metabolism. With this technology, a person can determine whether he or she is burning fat or carbohydrates when working out; at what pace he or she should be exercising for maximum athletic performance or weight loss; and whether more recovery time is needed.

Jay Crawford, Hot Transfer Network  Hot Transfer Network is an online, HIPPA secure marketplace that allows regional networks of credentialed doctors to actively facilitate hospital to hospital transfers. An orthopedic surgeon, Crawford is familiar with the problems that can arise when a hospital needs to transfer a patient to a different facility to receive treatment. Using this system, hospitals can save time and money, reduce conflict, and improve patient outcomes with faster treatment.

Alicia Caputo, Avrio Analytics  Avrio Analytics leverages proprietary technology to offer data analytics services at a fraction of the cost, as well as providing predictive capabilities not available from visualizations alone. Its services put the power of a data scientist at the fingertips of anyone.

Dimitriy Petrov, RushBrush, LLC   RushBrush, LLC is a company that creates innovative personal hygiene products. Its latest innovation is the RushBrush, a hybridized toothbrush that makes oral health on the go both more effective and convenient. Unlike ordinary toothbrushes, the RushBrush’s nylon bristles are coated with dehydrated toothpaste and the brush can be used right out of the package, no water required. The brush is produced using biodegradable materials, making it an environmentally-friendly option for consumers.

Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific Corporation   T&T Scientific created LipX, a time-saving, single use extrusion device that researchers can use to prepare liposomes for use in a wide range of research applications. Unlike the gold standard device which requires 45-60 minutes to assemble and clean with each use, LipX is ready to use out of the package. As a result, the extrusion process time is reduced to only a couple of minutes. With researchers performing this process over a million times each year, LipX has potential to make a big impact in the industry.

Eva Mutunga, TechSmarrt   TechSmarrt’s data analysis software for materials research streamlines the process of material discovery and has shown gains in computational efficiency by over 100,000 times compared to a supercomputer. This allows users to obtain data on a material and its properties within seconds, saving time and reducing the amount of energy consumed during the process.


Startup Day is free and open to the public. Registration is required at http://innov865week.com/register/.


About Three Roots Capital 

Three Roots Capital provides impact capital products and advisory services that create successful outcomes for client companies and attractive returns for financial partners. They fuel sustainable business growth by providing capital, connections, and expertise.

About SouthEast Bank  

SouthEast Bank operates branches throughout East and Middle Tennessee, delivering exceptional quality, service, and innovative banking products to its clients. Our experienced staff diligently serves our communities with integrity and a sense of pride by offering exceptional service and value to not only our customers, but also the community as a whole. Because we are operated by local employees who live and work alongside the people we serve, SouthEast Bank is a true community bank that uses state of the art technology both inside and outside of our branches to reinvest in our schools, organizations, and neighborhoods.

Time to Innov865: Knoxville, a City with History of Scalable Inventions

By Ayumi Fukuda Bennett, founder of Startup Southerner

It’s hard to think about Knoxville without conjuring an image of the Sunsphere.

While some may simply see this structure as a relic of the city’s past, the reason for its existence in the first place is very much tied to what Knoxville has been and is about:  innovation.  Built by a local architectural firm, the Sunsphere was the theme structure for the 1982 World’s Fair, an event that was like attending the CES of that time. 11 million visitors were in Knoxville to see the numerous new products and artifacts at various countries’ pavilion spaces, but none caught more attention than this one homegrown product: a touchscreen developed by Elographics. This invention still makes several sites’ lists as one of the most significant inventions ever debuted at the World’s Fair.

But what may be even more impressive is that two years after the World’s Fair, Elographics was recognized by Inc. magazine as one of country’s 500 fastest growing companies. Scalability is a prized aspect of startups now, but East Tennessee has been practicing this for years.

Garnet Carter, a native of Sweetwater, Tennessee, became the first person to patent the game of mini-golf in 1927. Known then as ‘Tom Thumb Golf,’ Carter scaled up his patented course and was able to built thousands of courses within a few years. (Carter also was instrumental in the opening of Rock City, and the ‘See Rock City’ signage.)

What we also see with these scalable inventions from East Tennessee is that their disruptions in the market have durability.  For instance, has a garbage truck come by your home recently to pick up trash? Thank Knoxvillian George Dempster for that invention.

In 1935, his company created the Dempster-Dumpster, the first large-scale waste container that could be mechanically emptied into a garbage truck.  In 1937, Knoxville became known as the first ‘Dumpster City’ by purchasing the country’s first dumpster truck and several dumpsters. As the early adopters of this invention, the city was able to cut its spending on garbage collection. And other cities soon followed.

In a region that is holding its week-long celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship for the first time, the tradition itself of creating scalable, durable products has been part of Knoxville for generations. Institutions like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee have had international recognition as well as global impact. But companies such as PYA have also had its startup beginnings in Knoxville. And with newer startups like Cirrus InsightsAvrio AnalyticsReviewBoxChildren’s Media Studio and Audiohand calling Knoxville home, that structure in the skyline may be the most appropriate symbol of the culture of innovation that continues to define East Tennessee.

In the coming weeks, we are excited to bring you a little insight into this area as we hope you make plans to attend Innov865 Week in September.


The Innov865 Alliance has partnered with Startup Southerner, who will bring you stories of innovation born in East Tennessee prior to #Innov865 Week, September 19-23.  This inclusive media platform explores the dynamics of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South. From community-contributed posts to in-depth articles, it strives to make information about participating in the new economy accessible to everyone.

Guest Blogger Jonathan Mills Patrick: “How Can I Meet Startup Investors?”

Jonathan Mills Patrick is a former C-level finance executive and startup founder turned strategic consultant to financial institutions, startups and tech companies. You can find him at SouthFound.com or JonathanMillsPatrick.com.

“How can I meet startup investors?”

This question I get probably no less than once a day from entrepreneurs. The answer is easier than most entrepreneurs seem to grasp.

Who do you know?

In the typical timeline for raising capital,  you should look to your own network (second only to your own capital). This is often called the “FFF” stage (family, friends, founders). You would be surprised at the number of potential investors that are already directly or indirectly in your circle of contacts. I have witnessed entrepreneur after entrepreneur raise capital by addressing this question.

Pitch competitions

Just about every community that has any level of entrepreneurial support hosts pitch competitions. Investors regularly attend pitch competitions because they are a quick way to evaluate what types of businesses are entering the marketplace and which are gaining the most traction. It also allows them to evaluate the team.


These are often non-profit entities that take in a certain number of startups per year and provide them with access to limited amounts of capital, office space, mentoring, and more — in the hopes that some of the startups survive, and in fact, thrive. Investors often provide mentoring to the startups in the program. This creates a great way for investors to learn more about your startup from an in-depth perspective, as well as learn to know you on a personal level.


If you are going to be raising capital you had better get used to talking to complete strangers at events and learning how to pique their interest. You had better get used to initiating conversation, getting people to talk about themselves first, and leaving a favorable opinion of yourself.

Online investor sites

Sites like AngelList facilitate the connection between startups and investors. Startups are able to create a profile and list what they are looking for in terms of capital (along with details of their company) and investors can then use that information to determine if they are interested in digging deeper.

A word of caution here. Many entrepreneurs I know create profiles on a variety of these sites and then sit back and wait for the cash to roll in. They end up waiting a long time.

@2016 SouthFound Media. All Rights Reserved.


FunLPro’s Bryan Crosby says “we are there now”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The life of an entrepreneur rarely follows a linear path, something Bryan Crosby, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FunLPro Technology LLC, has lived recently.

As noted in this late 2015 post on teknovation.biz, the Maryville native founded the company to capitalize on a unique pouring device his father had invented. Today, FunLPro has one issued patent and two others that are pending.

“We are there now,” Crosby says in describing the progress the start-up has made on several fronts. The journey has been challenging, but he sees good things ahead.

It had been more than six months since we received an update on the start-up. Since then, Crosby has graduated from the University of Tennessee (UT) with his MBA and has focused all of his energies on FunLPro.

The effort is paying-off. The company has a 38 mm standard pouring device that attaches to antifreeze and wiper fluid containers. It is available in a two-cap blister pack at convenience centers like Pilot, usually in the same area where bottles of the fluids are sold.

This retail development is important for FunLPro.

“I’m particularly focused on the retail side right now,” Crosby says, explaining that the special caps can drive cash flow while FunLPro pushes the roll out of its proprietary container and private label products.

One of those private labels is Magna 1, marine oil that is now available at eight marinas on Norris Lake. Another – a white label quart of oil for KenJo Markets – should be in those stores as soon as this week.

When we initially interviewed Crosby, he was focused on finding the right company in China to manufacture FunLPro’s novel funnel that is built into containers to allow safe, accurate and easy dispensing of fluids into difficult areas.

The entrepreneur credits two St. Louis companies – C.L. Smith, a packaging supplier, and Hicks Oils, a producer of lubricants, for helping get FunLPro to where the company is today. Both are involved in the rollout of its private label products.

“It took forever – eight months – to get a cap engineer to help us,” Crosby says, noting that C.L. Smith identified the right person. Until that happened, FunLPro spent a good deal of time testing various iterations of the cap.

“Our sourcing agent vetted 58 different suppliers before we found the right one,” Crosby explained. They performed “drop, shake and leak tolerance tests” to assure themselves of the right manufacturer.

The company has leased a 2,600 sq. ft. warehouse in Oak Ridge and added two individuals to the team. One is Dustin Giltname, a fellow UT MBA graduate; the other is Elan Herrera, a UT engineering student working on his dissertation.

So what are Crosby’s priorities now?

“I’m seeking large retail partnerships,” he answers, adding that FunLPro is also seeking capital for inventory and international patents. Thus far, the start-up has been funded through friends and family.

“We want to be a licensor of our integrated caps to bottlers,” Crosby adds.

What lessons would he share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Understand the time disconnect,” Crosby says. “It takes longer than you expect. Be patient.”

In addition, he underscores the importance of finding a native sourcing agent for any start-up exploring manufacturing in a foreign country such as China. “You need someone who speaks the language and understands the culture,” Crosby advises.

(Note: This article appeared previously on teknovation.biz, a web-based service that was launched to spotlight and celebrate “all things” related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.)

Paul Singh coming to Knoxville during Innov865 Week

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Paul Singh will roll into Knoxville during Innov865 Week, driving his pick-up truck and pulling a custom-built Airstream travel trailer.

It’s part of what he calls the “North American Tech Tour” which features stops in both the U.S. and Canada, some for as little as a day, others for as long as a week. In the case of  Knoxville, Singh is scheduled to be here for the inaugural Innov865 Week scheduled for September 19-23.

His participation and other special programs planned during the week are part of a continuing effort to elevate the stature and visibility of Knoxville’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Knoxville stop will be the 32nd different city Singh has visited on a tour that has taken him to several Canadian provinces and communities across this country.

In announcing the year-long initiative, Singh said he planned “to visit places that start-ups actually start (and grow) their businesses. At each stop, I’ve created a week-long series of events for entrepreneurs and investors.”

The format is fairly typical. Singh holds what he calls “Office Hours,” one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs. Those who have the opportunity to talk with him are selected through an application process that will be announced later.

Singh also attends and participates in various sessions scheduled by the local organizing committee. In the case of “Innov865 Week,” those activities include the fourth annual “Start-up Day Knoxville” celebration on September 22 as well as the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s (KEC) “The Works Demo Day” and a number of micro-events. The full schedule will be announced later.

Here’s a summary of his visit earlier this year to Fargo, ND, and a similar summary from a later visit in St. Louis, MO.

For Singh, it seems like he is on the road almost every week. This week is a rare exception.

After the successful entrepreneur and seed stage investor was in five cities last week in Montana, he gets a breather for Fourth of July period before travelling to Indianapolis for four days next week.  You can see the plans for next week here.

Thus far, Singh has visited places such as Vancouver, BC; Waterloo, IA; Kansas City, MO; Omaha and Lincoln, NE; Las Vegas; Taos, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM; Pittsburgh, PA; and Durham, NC in addition to Fargo and St. Louis.

Stops between Indianapolis and Knoxville include Des Moines, IA (July 17-23); Port Huron, MI (July 25-29);Syracuse, Utica and Saratoga Springs, NY (August 14-20); and Columbus, OH (September 4-10). After Knoxville, there’s one stop on the tour – Baltimore, MD (September 23-30).

“Innov865 Week” is a collaborative effort of the University of Tennessee’s Research Foundation and Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; KEC; Launch Tennessee; and PYA, sponsor of teknovation.biz.

(This story appeared originally on teknovation.biz, a web-based service that was launched to spotlight and celebrate “all things” related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.)

Application Now Open for the 2016 Startup Day Pitch Competition

Pitch competition gives East Tennessee startups an opportunity to win $5,000

Knoxville, Tenn.– Applications are now being accepted for the Knoxville Startup Day 2016 pitch competition. Startup Day 2016 will feature six East Tennessee startups pitching their businesses for a chance to win a $5,000 cash prize. This is the second Startup Day pitch competition.

“Knoxville is a great city to start and grow a business, so it is important for our region to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs to continue this growth,” said Stacey Patterson, Vice President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance. “The Startup Day pitch competition is an opportunity for East Tennessee entrepreneurs to pitch their innovative ideas and compete for a cash prize that can help make their vision a reality.”

To apply for the pitch competition, eligible startups must be located in the East Tennessee region and fill out an application, available on the Innov865 Week website: http://innov865week.com/apply. Applications will be accepted through July 25, 2016. The Innov865 Alliance will review applications and select six startups to participate. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than August 8, 2016. Startup Day 2016 is scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2016 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theater.

Bryan Crosby with FunLPro Technology claimed the winning prize during Startup Day 2015 from sponsor BOBA (Business Owners Benefits Association). Investors from Alchemist Collective, River Cities Capital Funds and Chattanooga Renaissance Fund selected the winner.

This year marks the fourth annual Startup Day, which is now the signature event of the newly launched Innov865 Week– a week-long series of events, September 19-23, 2016, to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.

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 is presented by the Innov865 Alliance. The Innov865 Alliance develops, supports and promotes the Knoxville region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s a collaborative effort to celebrate and showcase Knoxville as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses and increase access to capital. Founding members include 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.

For more information, visit: www.innov865.com

Allie Rapkowicz, Piper Communications, Allison@piper-communications.com, 865-329-0553


Innov865 Week to showcase Knoxville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

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


Cortney Piper, cortney@piper-communications.com 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: www.innov865.com

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 utrf.tennessee.edu.

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 http://utrf.tennessee.edu.

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.”

Read more at teknovation.biz

spark-3 spark-2