Tennessee startups Active Energy and SkyNano graduate from Energy Mentor Network

Two Tennessee energy startups – SkyNano Technologies and Active Energy Systems – are graduating from the Energy Mentor Network, a rigorous mentorship program that cultivates energy entrepreneurship across the state.

Run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) in partnership with Launch Tennessee, the Energy Mentor Network equips promising young companies with the tools and connections to raise capital and scale their businesses to market success. Active Energy and SkyNano were paired with expert entrepreneurs to guide the companies through the multi-tiered program of panel presentations and mentorship sessions. To reach graduation, the startups built investable pitch decks, finance models, and structured business plans and defended those plans before panels of established entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Active Energy Systems was founded by Mitchell Ishmael and Levon Atoyan in 2017. The cofounders invented the world’s first “icephobic coating,” which creates a surface impervious to freezing water. The patent-pending coating is the technology behind Active Energy’s revolutionary air conditioning system that greatly improves cooling performance by eliminating ice build-up. The ultra-efficient, low-cost thermal energy storage system is environmentally superior to standard cooling systems and enables electricity to be accessed overnight for later use when cost is less expensive.

SkyNano Technologies was cofounded by Anna Douglas in 2017. She and co-founder Cary Pint developed a novel technique that makes the production of highly sought-after carbon nanotubes much more efficient, affordable, and scalable. SkyNano’s patent-pending technology relies on electrochemistry, rather than solely chemical catalysis as is currently used, and more efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into functional nanomaterials. The new manufacturing technique produces low-cost, high-value nanotubes, solving cost and scalability limitations associated with existing carbon nanotube manufacturing techniques while also enabling commercial viability to carbon conversion technologies through high-value secondary material.

During their time in the Energy Mentor Network, Active Energy and SkyNano made significant gains in financing and market-readiness.

SkyNano secured close to $1,000,000 in funding grants and fellowships from the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation SBIR program matched by LaunchTN. Anna was named a 2019 Forbes Magazine “30 Under 30” Disrupter in Energy. The company is expanding its work force and this fall, SkyNano plans to scale its patent-pending technology and deliver product samples to early customers.

Active Energy secured more than $500,000 in funding grants and fellowships from the Department of Energy, TennesSeed Fund, and National Science Foundation SBIR program matched by LaunchTN. The company was also named a finalist in the 2018 76West Clean Energy Competition. Active Energy is currently building a much larger cooling system for a 6,000 sq ft facility and constructing a “show and tell” system for onsite demonstrations.

Both graduating energy startups were members of the inaugural cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Innovation Crossroads program, a two-year fellowship that supports energy entrepreneurs take their inventions from R&D to commercialization. Innovation Crossroads is a business mentor partner of the Energy Mentor Network. SkyNano and Active Energy are the third and fourth startups to graduate from the Energy Mentor Network.

Vote for Nth Cycle to win crowd favorite prize at 36|86

Have you cast your vote for the Crowd Favorite Award from the list of finalists for the LaunchTN Pitch Competition at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival yet? Innovation Crossroads startup Nth Cycle is eligible to win — so start voting today!

The Crowd Favorite Award provides competing startups a chance to win $10,000 to invest in their business. Live poll results will appear on LaunchTN’s website until Aug. 12. Voting will end Aug. 29 at 12p.m. CT, one hour before the pitch competition starts. The winner will be announced at the end of the competition.

Nth Cycle is enrolled within TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network. The network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Nth Cycle will be pitching onstage representing TAEBC.

So don’t forget to cast your vote for the $10,000 Crowd Favorite Award!

Nth Cycle is developing a recycling technology that utilizes carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced separation and recovery of solid rare earth and specialty elements (RESE)-oxides.  If successful, this technology will provide a high-throughput electrochemical recovery process for recycling RESE as an alternative to the conventional energy-intensive extraction and refining processes currently used to obtain these metals for manufacturing.  She holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nth Cycle.

Tennessee receives three federal EDA Regional Innovation Strategies grants

(Originally Published on LaunchTN.org)

LaunchTN, AgLaunch, and Epicenter to receive funds to help TN startups

Nashville, Tenn. – Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), a Nashville-based public-private partnership that fosters entrepreneurship across the state, along with Memphis-based nonprofits AgLaunch and Epicenter, were announced today as winners of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies competition.

AgLaunch, a multi-state organization headquartered in Memphis, and LaunchTN will receive federal funding in the amount of $750,000 and $500,000, respectively, in support of each organization’s innovation strategy programs. Epicenter will receive $289,500 in federal funding to support the operations of two early-stage capital funds. All of the grants require a local match, for which each organization has commitments.

The federal grants are made annually under the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program competition, but 2019 marks the first time that Tennessee has received more than one grant in a given year, and the first time since 2016 that a Tennessee organization has received an EDA grant.

“The fact that three Tennessee organizations were awarded EDA grants is a strong testament to the ecosystem we’re building,” said Margaret Dolan, president and CEO of LaunchTN. “It puts our state on a national stage as innovative and collaborative in our approach to building a state-wide network that supports entrepreneurs at every stage of development.”

Read more here.

Gary Rawlings joins ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads team

(Originally published: Teknovation.biz)

(If you’re interested in joining the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council as a mentor, click here.)

A well-known player in two of the Launch Tennessee-supported mentor networks has an additional assignment as of today.

Gary Rawlings begins a part-time role as a Technology Consultant working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” start-ups.

“We’ve known Gary for several years and have always been impressed with his knowledge and experience in both the corporate and start-up realms,” says Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development. “As we’ve grown ‘Innovation Crossroads’ to eight companies and have opened applications for six more, he’ll be a great addition to our team.”

Rawlings and his wife moved to Murfreesboro in early 2015 to be closer to two of their three children who live there. Prior to that, he had spent his weeks commuting seven hours each way from their home in Greensboro, NC to Columbus, OH where Rawlings served for six years as Vice President for Commercialization at TechColumbus, the non-profit now known as Rev1 Ventures. That work followed a more than three-decade corporate career that included nearly 24 years with Monsanto.

The Houston TX native is a mentor in programs operated by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s and Life Science Tennessee with support from Launch Tennessee. Rawlings also serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Cumberland Emerging Technologies in Nashville.

Energy Mentor Network Company: Nth Cycle

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is featuring the companies benefiting from the Energy Mentor Network program, which offers industry specific expertise from experienced mentors.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

Nth Cycle is developing a recycling technology that utilizes carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced separation and recovery of solid rare earth and specialty elements (RESE)-oxides. If successful, this technology will provide a high-throughput electrochemical recovery process for recycling RESE as an alternative to the conventional energy-intensive extraction and refining processes currently used to obtain these metals for manufacturing. Megan O’Connor holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nth Cycle.

TAEBC is currently accepting applications from Tennessee advanced energy companies to apply for the Energy Mentor Network program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Startups” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.

Nth Cycle is enrolled in ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads program. TAEBC and Launch Tennessee provide non-exclusive business mentoring services to the Innovation Crossroads Innovators.