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.” 

Knoxville’s annual entrepreneurship festival goes virtual, honors startups and inventors fighting COVID-19

Innov865 Week brings together local leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and the public to celebrate Knoxville’s startup community

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., June 24, 2020 –  The Innov865 Alliance announced today Innov865 Week 2020 will be virtual this year, and it will make a special effort to honor startups and inventors making an impact on the fight against COVID-19. Innov865 Week 2020 is Monday, September 28 – Friday, October 2.

During a webinar with Mayor Kincannon, Tom Rogers, president and CEO of the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance shared why the Innov865 Alliance made the decision to continue Innov865 Week, virtually.

“Entrepreneurship is essential to the success of our community and now, more than ever is the time to rally around our entrepreneurs,” said Rogers. “Innov865 Week will continue to spotlight Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses and connect entrepreneurs planting roots here with support systems to succeed.”

Innov865 Week boasts a range of events for everyone in the community to support local economic development, from investors and regional entrepreneurs to community leaders and students.

The week’s premier event is Startup Day, Tuesday, September 29. Startup Day will be presented virtually using Knoxville based technology platform, Lunchpool. Startup Day is an annual “Shark-Tank”-style pitch competition for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Six of Knoxville’s most investable startups will pitch their businesses in front of a panel of expert judges. In addition to the opportunity to spotlight their startup for investors, entrepreneurs will compete for a “crowd favorite” cash prize presented by BB&T and SunTrust Bank, now Truist.

Added to the Startup Day program this year is a special award and recognition of startups and inventors that have made a positive impact on the fight against COVID-19, presented by Verizon.

To learn more about Innov865 Week visit https://innov865week.com/. The event calendar will be updated as events are added.

ABOUT INNOV865 WEEK AND THE INNOV865 ALLIANCE

Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Tennessee Valley Authority, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit www.innov865.com/.

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Webinar with Knoxville’s Mayor Indya Kincannon

UPDATE: We will be closing registration for this event on Monday, June 22 at Noon ET! You MUST register before this deadline to access this event. RSVP here!
Join us for an engaging webinar with Knoxville’s Mayor Indya Kincannon!

Mayor Kincannon will present her priorities and vision for supporting Knoxville’s entrepreneurial community and innovation economy, as well as her vision for creating an innovation district.

There will be time set aside for the audience to ask questions.

We will be using Lunchpool for this event. If you are new to Lunchpool, please review the below guides on setup, etiquette tips, and how to navigate through the platform.