When 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.”
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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 Teknovation.biz website.