Innovation Crossroads Showcase webinar emphasizes value of East Tennessee entrepreneurship

This year’s Innovation Crossroads Showcase emphasized the value of statewide partnerships and entrepreneurship in the East Tennessee region. Presented by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and LaunchTN, the virtual event took place during Innov865 Week 2020.  

Kicking off the event, TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper spoke about TAEBC’s partnership with LaunchTN and creation of the Energy Mentor Network. The Energy Mentor Network program’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Piper highlighted the accomplishments of program graduates, including Solar Site Design, SkyNano Technologies, Stone Mountain Technologies, and Active Energy Systems.  

Afterward, Piper moderated a fireside chat with Van Tucker, LaunchTN’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, where they discussed Tucker’s background, LaunchTN’s work in the state, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem of East Tennessee.  

“I’m really proud of the work that is being done in East Tennessee,” Tucker remarked. 

Speaking about what gives her hope for the future, Tucker said that while there are plenty of challenges and problems that have arisen due to COVID-19, she believes “this is the moment for innovators and entrepreneurs” to rise up.

“Entrepreneurs are, I believe, the best chance we have of rapid economic recovery in our nation at the moment,” she said. “And they need to be given the resources they need to grow and thrive and help contribute to that economic recovery.”

Later, Dan Miller, Director, Innovation Crossroads, spoke about the Innovation Crossroads program and upcoming Cohort Five application deadline. Based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Innovation Crossroads program leverages ORNL’s scientific resources and capabilities and connects the nation’s top innovators with experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take world-changing ideas from research and development to the marketplace. 

Miller then introduced Innovation Crossroads Cohort Four startups for their pitches. Attendees heard pitches from Actinic, AquaQuant Laboratories, Becq, PixelEXX Systems, and Quantum Lock Technologies.

Mitchell Ishmael, Cohort One alumni and co-founder of Active Energy Systems, moderated a panel discussion with Cohort Two alumni as they provided updates on their businesses and reflected on their time in the Innovation Crossroad and Energy Mentor Network programs. Panelists included Don DeRosa of Eonix, Shane McMahon of Lux Semiconductors, Justin Nussbaum of Ascend Manufacturing, and Megan O’Connor of Nth Cycle.

“The Knoxville area in general is extremely supportive,” Nussbaum said. “Everyone that I have worked with around here is always willing to help and provide feedback. It’s just been a great area to build a company in because of that assistance.” 

To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network or become a mentor, click here. To learn more about Innovation Crossroads or apply for Cohort Five before the October 31 deadline, follow this link.

Environmental Justice: The Pursuit of Energy Dominance & a Resilient Appalachia Webinar

With some of the highest poverty rates in the country, Appalachian communities stand at a post-coal crossroads between potential preeminence in the region’s energy supply and building resilient economies. The disparity of land ownership, long-lasting public health inequities, and unequal access to infrastructure (especially hospitals and highways) have all resulted in distinct environmental justice obstacles for communities throughout Appalachia.

Presently, only 2% of the Appalachian workforce is employed by the coal industry, and many have called for the emergence of new economic developments for greater prosperity. Many public interest groups advocate for an economic transition to foster “green collar” jobs as a major solution to the unemployment gap, and one that would train workers in renewable energy systems. How to catalyze this transition, however, remains uncertain. Competing with renewables is the natural gas industry transforming shale deposits into fuel with concerns that this approach, while offering short-term economic gains, may just reaffirm Appalachia’s historic fossil fuel dependency and lead to environmental problems. With uncertain paths to development and resilience, Appalachia’s fate demonstrates the complexity of how to navigate the intricate nexus of economic insecurity, inequality, and resource extraction in 21st century America.

Join ELI and our expert panelists to explore the potential of green energy innovation for fostering environmental justice and resilient economies in Appalachian communities.

For more information, go to this page on Environmental Law Institute‘s website.

  • For webinar/telecomREGISTER HERE.  Webinar information will be emailed one business day prior to the event. If you are unsure if you can access the webinar via the GoToMeeting platform, please go HERE to view system requirements prior to registering.

Panelists:
James McElfish Jr.
, Director of Sustainable Use of Land Program, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Kate Boyle, Deputy Executive Director, Appalachian Voices
Emily Collins, Executive Director & Managing Attorney, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services
Jillian C. Kirn, Associate, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Cortney Piper, Co-Founder & Vice President, TN Advanced Energy Business Council and President, Piper Communications LLC
Mary Shoemaker, State Policy Analyst, The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

Advanced energy’s future depends on whether or not we’re willing to swim the distance

TAEBC’s Cortney Piper wrote a column for the May 2015 issue of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal about leadership and Tennessee’s robust advanced energy sector.

Piper is passionate about the advanced energy industry and its impact on the economy, stating that it opens up so much opportunity for leadership and innovation in the Volunteer State.

“Tennessee is rich in energy resources — from solar and bioenergy to advanced materials that make vehicles more efficient and the latest power generation innovations. In short, the keys to energy development are found right here, flowing from the mountains of the East, cresting at the Plateau and settling in the flatlands of the West,” she said.

Click here to read Piper’s column.

TAEBC’s Cortney Piper speaks to Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association

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The Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association (ETEBA) hosted the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s (TAEBC) Cortney Piper during its monthly dinner meeting on August 28 at the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff in Knoxville. Piper spoke about the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and its mission to promote advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy.

Piper presented the TAEBC Advanced Energy Asset Inventory and solicited feedback regarding the best ways the organization can foster the growth of our state’s advanced energy technologies, companies and jobs. She gave an in-depth explanation of TAEBC’s mission, plus how the organization promotes that mission through roundtables, listening sessions and other events.

Attendees asked stimulating questions about what the Federal government is doing to help Americans save money through advanced energy. Piper explained that Executive Order 13514 authorized the Federal government to enter into a minimum of $2 billion in performance-based contracts in Federal building energy efficiency. Individual agency sustainability plans are available here.

ETEBA is a non-profit trade association representing more than 250 small, large and mid-sized companies that provide environmental, technology, energy, engineering, construction and related services to government and commercial clients. Its mission is to promote the success of its members by fostering market understanding, identifying business opportunities and advocating for our common interests.