Mayor Kincannon shares priorities, goals supporting Knoxville’s entrepreneurial community

City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon participated in an Innov865 Webinar, where she presented her priorities and vision for supporting Knoxville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Mayor Kincannon was out on a family vacation as she joined us remotely to share her goals under her administration. During the webinar, the mayor gave a shoutout to our entrepreneurs pivoting in these uncertain times to meet the needs of our community and beyond.

  • EDP Biotech, a Startup Day 2019 alum, was focusing its lab work on cancer screenings but has since become one of a few entities on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website now recognized as a commercial testing lab and manufacturer of COVID-19 serology (antibody) tests.
  • Integrity Labs gained a nod from the mayor as they are also assisting in COVID-19 testing, as well as the many distilleries that began producing hand sanitizer in light of the shortages and donated a lot of it to our public safety and first responders.
  • Songboarding, a recent winner of Innov865 Alliance member Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s What’s the Big Idea? competition was also mentioned by our mayor. The startup produces workplace safety training songs, and as public health is top of mind in light of COVID-19, co-founder Mike Benn created a song to encourage people to wash their hands and follow CDC guidelines.

Mayor Kincannon also stressed the importance of working with community partners and the Chamber of Commerce to make sure opportunities and resources are equitable to all.

“One of my goals as Mayor is to support the entrepreneurial community and make sure that those opportunities to invest and to grow your business and to plant your idea and turn your idea into a workable strategy is something that is available to everybody,” said Mayor Kincannon.

The mayor highlighted that in order to solidify Knoxville’s innovation ecosystem, there needs to be better connectivity. On top of having the infrastructure that supports collaboration, entrepreneurs need to be in close proximity with each other to catalyze more innovation. That’s certainly a challenge right now, in light of COVID-19, but the mayor said she wants the city and the mayor’s office to be a part of that strategic planning moving forward. The mayor reiterated one of her goals during her term is to launch and move forward on an innovation district or an opportunity district.

Mayor Kincannon shared how she’s had several conversations with Knoxville’s entrepreneurs to help understand what their needs are and how the City can help. Anna Douglas of SkyNano, a 2017 Startup Day winner, explained to the mayor the technology needs for wet labs and access to resources that new businesses need for facilitating and incubating.

Douglas is a familiar name in Knoxville as she’s a graduate of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads program, and just won two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants that total $2.7 million, including cost share for one, and has two other smaller projects lined-up for the start-up founded in January 2017 and focused on manufacturing of low-cost, high-value carbon materials from carbon dioxide.

Mayor Kincannon also expressed interest in Knoxville mimicking Memphis’ 800 Initiative, which is dedicated to helping grow minority business through the deliberate investment of assistance, capital, corporate engagement, and other resources.

“Memphis is a much bigger city but ours might be the Knoxville 100. The idea is to not reinvent the wheel but to give access to minority owned businesses to the resources that already exist to support small and growing businesses,” said Mayor Kincannon. “The goal is very attainable and measurable, and it’s to give people access to services, remove the barriers for mentoring, and access to capital.” 

EDP Biotech taking reservations for COVID-19 antibody testing

EDP Biotech has been busy since the company took the stage at Startup Day 2019, by now offering COVID-19 antibody testing.

You likely remember Eric Mayer, as he is the CEO of EDP Biotech, a medical device company whose mission is the development and commercialization of in-vitro diagnostic tests that detect disease early. EDP’s platform technology utilizes machine learning and multiplexing to simultaneously measure numerous proteins from a single blood draw.

EDP was planning on launching its first multi-marker blood test from the platform, ColoPlex™, used in the early detection of colorectal cancer and presenting some new data at upcoming conferences when the coronavirus hit.

Facing uncertainty and the added stress of finding out some of his own family members were diagnosed with the coronavirus, Mayer dedicated himself to learning as much as possible. In conversations with doctors across the state, he recognized the need for widespread antibody testing.

EDP’s facility and lab was recently added as one of a few entities on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website as a commercial testing lab and manufacturer of COVID-19 serology (antibody) tests.

With this announcement, EDP has started developing the tools needed to build, scale and validate tests here in Tennessee. The company is also hiring medical technicians to be able to deliver testing services to Tennessee as the economy reopens.

EDP has begun performing a modest 100 antibody tests a day for researchers, with the hopes of potentially performing three to four thousand tests a day for patients across Tennessee pending further regulatory approvals.

The company has since opened its CLIA laboratory, and they can now begin taking reservations for COVID-19 antibody testing. You can browse through their website for antibody test facts and other important details.

Once the test has received its final FDA authorization, EDP will contact you directly with next steps to finish your test order and receive your at-home finger stick blood collection kit in the mail.