National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Fall Regional

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Fall Regional will be held at the University of Tennessee from October 3 – 19, 2017. This intensive two-week program is designed by I-Corps South to help individuals who are interested in commercializing their research to build a business model that addresses their customers’ needs. The curriculum will cover the customer discovery process, developing a value proposition, and creating a business plan. The program also serves as an informal kick-off for UT’s participation in the I-Corps South Node, one of eight regional networks developed to support innovation education, infrastructure, and research.

Instructors for the program include UT’s Shawn Carson, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation’s (UTRF) Maha Krishnamurthy, and two instructors from I-Corps National.

Applications close for NSF Innovation Corps Fall Regional at UT

Applications will close September 29 for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Fall Regional. It will be held at the University of Tennessee (UT) from October 3 – 19, 2017. This intensive two-week program is designed by I-Corps South to help individuals who are interested in commercializing their research to build a business model that addresses their customers’ needs. The curriculum will cover the customer discovery process, developing a value proposition, and creating a business plan. The program also serves as an informal kick-off for UT’s participation in the I-Corps South Node, one of eight regional networks developed to support innovation education, infrastructure, and research.

Teams of 2-4 people are invited to fill out an application, found at http://icorpssouth.com/registration/for the opportunity to participate in the Fall Regional. Potential applicants must be located in the Southeast and have an interest in commercializing research. University-based teams are preferred, though not required. The application period is open now through September 29, 2017.  Instructors for the program include UT’s Shawn Carson, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation’s (UTRF) Maha Krishnamurthy, and two instructors from I-CorpsNational.

The Fall Regional kicks-off on October 3 with a half day workshop at the University of UTRF’s Business Incubator on UT’s Agriculture Campus. Over two weeks, teams will conduct a series of interviews with prospective customers to identify their needs and meet with mentors from the instructional team during virtual office hours. The program wraps up on October 19 when participants reconvene to share what they have learned.

The NSF I-Corps program was established in 2011 to help scientists and engineers to think beyond the laboratory and identify opportunities for translating research into commercial products that can benefit society. Hundreds of teams from across the country have participated in the national program, spending 6-7 weeks interviewing customers and businesses to answer the question: what do our customers need and does it align with our research? Teams that successfully complete the program are awarded $50,000.

UT is a partner in I-Corps South, whose members include the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

UT I-Corps South is co-sponsored by UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haslam College of Business and UTRF.

Fifth Annual Startup Day Celebrates Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – East Tennessee’s leading investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and business leaders convened at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville on Thursday, September 21, 2017 for the fifth annual Startup Day. The event is part of Innov865 Week 2017, which celebrates and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses.

New this year, the Startup Day pitch competition featured two prize categories. Mac Bartine, Smart RIA received the $10,000 Startup Day 2017 Judge’s Choice Prize presented by the Innov865 Alliance. Anna Douglas, SkyNano Technologies received the $5,000 Startup Day 2017 Crowd Favorite Prize presented by SunTrust Bank. The winning pitches were among six startups participating in the fifth annual pitch competition.

“East Tennessee is rapidly gaining traction as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs in the Southeast,” said Stacey Patterson, President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance, which hosts Innov865 Week. “Startup Day provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate what makes Knoxville such an inviting place to start and grow a business, as well as celebrate the entrepreneurs who are putting our city on the map as a hub of innovation.”

Mac Bartine, Smart RIA Smart RIA is a cloud-based, secure software platform that simplifies and automates regulatory compliance for the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry, serving firms that are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Compliance management can be a costly and time-consuming task for businesses, especially those that do not have in-house expertise. Smart RIA’s software streamlines the process through customized tools that use customer data to track and address compliance issues. This solution not only saves customers time and money, but allows them to focus on growing their business while remaining compliant and independent. 

Anna Douglas, SkyNano Technologies SkyNano Technologies has developed an open system manufacturing technique to produce low cost, high value carbon nanotubes, a material with potential applications in a variety of areas from energy storage to consumer electronics. Compared to traditional manufacturing processes that require high vacuum and high pressure gas flow systems, SkyNano’s patent-pending technology relies on the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide, resulting in a process that is lower in cost and scalable for commercial applications. Aside from lowering the cost of carbon nanotubes, SkyNano’s technique offers a promising method for converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into useful functional nanomaterials.

Jenna Johns, Chief Operating Officer of RDI Technologies, a Startup Day 2015 alum, received the third annual Innov865 Traction Award, presented by UT Federal Credit Union. The Innov865 Traction Award is given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum since pitching at Startup Day. RDI’s video camera-based technology quickly determines faults in machinery, infrastructure, and human performance not visible to the human eye. RDI counts Fortune 100 companies as its customers including Honda, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.

Another highlight of this year’s Startup Day was a fireside chat hosted by Charlie Brock, CEO of Launch Tennessee and Mark Montgomery, Entrepreneur/Investor/Change Agent. The two featured speakers held a lively discussion on the state of Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week 2017, which wraps up today. Throughout the week more than one thousand startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee participated in educational panels, investor roundtables, demo days, and networking opportunities that promoted Knoxville as a premier hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Southeast.

About Startup Day

Startup Day is the signature event of Innov865 Week, a weeklong series of events that celebrates Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a brand that represents a commitment to yearlong collaboration to develop, support, and promote 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, and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. To learn more, visit http://innov865.com/.

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Knoxville Showcases its Entrepreneurial Spirit at Startup Day 2016

East Tennessee’s leading investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders convened at the U.S. Cellular Stage at The Bijou Theatre in Downtown Knoxville on Thursday, September 22, 2016 for the fourth annual Startup Day. The event is part of Innov865 Week, which celebrates and showcases Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses.

Graham Taylor, T&T Scientific won the pitch competition and was awarded $5,000 from sponsors Three Roots Capital and SouthEast Bank. T&T Scientific was one of six startups participating in the pitch competition this year.

Graham Taylor, co-founder of 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 and does not require the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning.

Bob Bradley, President and CEO of NewsBreak and Startup Day 2014 alum, received the second annual Traction Award, presented by UT Federal Credit Union. The Traction Award is given to a Startup alum who has gained the most momentum in the past three years. Launched in 2009, NewsBreak is a programmatic merchandising platform that converts fuel-only customers to multi-product purchasers.

Startup Day also featured Paul Singh, nationally recognized serial entrepreneur and seed stage investor, who came to Knoxville as part of his North American Tech Tour. Aside from being a featured guest at Startup Day, Paul held one-on-one consultations with a lucky few Knoxville-area startups to gain a better understanding of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial landscape and identify potential investment opportunities.

“I continue to be amazed and inspired by the entrepreneurial talent we have here in Knoxville,” said Stacey Patterson, Vice President of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and founding member of the Innov865 Alliance, which hosts Innov865 Week. “Our region has a rich tradition of innovation, and Startup Day gives our entrepreneurs a platform to share their hard work and grow their businesses. The award winners and startup pitchers truly exemplify Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit.”

Startup Day was just one in a series of events held during Innov865 Week, which wraps up today. Throughout the week more than one thousand entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, students and the East Tennessee community participated in educational panels, investor roundtables and social events that promoted entrepreneurship in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

About Startup Day

Startup Day is an annual event that showcases Knoxville as a destination for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is part of Innov865 Week which is organized by the members of the Innov865 Alliance: The University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Lab, Launch Tennessee, PYA, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. http://innov865.com/