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.

Register for the Innovation Crossroads Showcase during Innov865 Week 2020!

Join us for the Innovation Crossroads Showcase during Innov865 Week 2020! The virtual event will take place Wednesday, September 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET. Register today to attend!

Innovation Crossroads, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is the Southeast’s only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory. The program, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and Tennessee Valley Authority, leverages ORNL’s unique 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.

Presented by the TAEBC and LaunchTN, the Innovation Crossroads Showcase will feature a fireside chat with Cortney Piper, TAEBC Executive Director, and Van Tucker, LaunchTN interim CEO. Later, Cohort Four startups will pitch their companies!

The event will also showcase a panel discussion with Mitchell Ishmael of Cohort One and Cohort Two alumni as they give us updates on their businesses and what their experience was like in Innovation Crossroads and the Energy Mentor Network. The event will highlight resources available for energy startups, including the TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network. To learn more about the program or become a mentor, click here

During LaunchTN’s recent 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival, Cohort Two alumna Megan O’Connor of Nth Cycle moderated a panel session with seven members of Cohort Three to discuss what advice they would give to burgeoning entrepreneurs and how the Tennessee ecosystem has helped their companies over the past year.

“This area has so much to offer. It’s so accessible,” explained Trevor McQueen of Neptune Fluid Flow Systems. “It has helped every facet of our business grow. We couldn’t be happier.” 

Register for the Innovation Crossroads Showcase today!

LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival panel sessions with TAEBC Executive Director, Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three, highlight value of Energy Mentor Network

LaunchTN’s 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival celebrates visionaries and innovators who are actively shaping their entrepreneurial ecosystems through their expertise, research and forward-thinking ideas. 

During the 10-day, virtual festival, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Executive Director, Cortney Piper, spoke in a panel session about innovation partnerships, while the Innovation Crossroads Cohort Three startups held a live Q&A session with alumni Megan O’Connor of Nth Cycle. O’Connor and the Cohort Three startups are enrolled in TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network program.  

The “Startup, Inc.: Advancing Strategy with Innovation Partnerships” panel session featured Piper; Reed Hayes, AVP of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Unum; and Anthony Oni, Co-founder and CEO of Cloverly, and Vice President Corporate Communications at Southern Company Gas. The panel was moderated by Daley Ervin, the Managing Director of Engage. 

Participants discussed how investing in innovation partnerships can be lucrative for small or large businesses, and can help rapidly increase scale for emerging companies or advance existing strategies for market incumbents. They explained how and why companies and organizations invest in establishing these partnerships, along with how other businesses can benefit from doing the same.

Piper spoke about the mission of TAEBC to champion advanced energy as an “economic development and job creation strategy,” along with the Energy Mentor Network, which is run by TAEBC in partnership with LaunchTN. One of the main goals of the Energy Mentor Network, said Piper, is to “foster the growth of advanced energy companies and technologies in the state of Tennessee.” 

In the final segment of the panel, Piper explained that the Energy Mentor Network helps startups learn how to “concisely and compellingly” tell their story, understand that “just because a company can partner with you, doesn’t mean they will,” and to be persistent when reaching out to potential partners or sources of funding.

Meanwhile, the “Live AMA with ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads” showcased O’Connor sitting down with seven members of Cohort Three to discuss what is next on the frontiers of cleantech and energy. Cohort Three includes Williams Fitzhugh of American Nanotechnologies Inc., Hicham Ghossein of Endeavor Composites Inc., Jesse Claypoole of MantaPoole Technologies, Leila Safavi of Purist Inc., Trevor McQueen of Neptune Fluid Flow Systems, Alex Lewis of Electro-Active Technologies Inc., and Jesse Thornburg of Grid Fruit

During the session, Cohort Three startups answered questions ranging from what advice they would give to burgeoning entrepreneurs to how the Tennessee ecosystem has helped their companies over the past year.

“This area has so much to offer. It’s so accessible,” explained McQueen. “It has helped every facet of our business grow. We couldn’t be happier.” 

Safavi remarked that the best piece of advice she would give to new entrepreneurs or researchers is to have a “great support group.”

“Without them pushing me forward at times when I had doubt, without their support, it wouldn’t be possible,” she continued. “Having a good group of supporters that can advise you and help you move forward is key.”

O’Connor echoed Safavi’s advice about the importance of support systems, saying, “I think that’s one of the great benefits of Innovation Crossroads, having that really early stage support behind you.”

To learn more about the Energy Mentor Network program or become a mentor, click here.

LaunchTN’s Virtual Workshop: SBIR/STTR Accounting

Congratulations! Your company has received a Phase I SBIR/STTR award. Now what? RSVP here

In this webinar, we will cover the basics required to establish a sound accounting system in Phase I, along with some basic finance rules to follow as you complete your work and draw down funding from the awarding agency. We’ll also help prepare you for a Phase II award, where indirect rates can be negotiated and more stringent rules and an audit are the norm.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is a highly competitive federal program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR/STTR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

This workshop is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

TAEBC wants your feedback, highlights resources for small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

During this time of crisis, TAEBC is continuing to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state and provide businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to weather this storm. 

To start, TAEBC wants your feedback about what the industry needs to remain solvent and thrive. What could your business use or need in a second round of federal stimulus? Please send your feedback to TAEBC here by email.

“Even in these challenging times, TAEBC continues to champion advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy for the state,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “We are committed to our members and stakeholders in fostering the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups.”

As one of TAEBC’s missions is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy technologies and startups, we want to provide resources small businesses and entrepreneurs can use during this crisis. See the resources from Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) below:

LaunchTN’s COVID-19 Updates, Resources and Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform
LaunchTN has created a special webpage which includes guidance from health officials, updates from statewide network partners, resources to support small businesses and startups, webinars and other virtual learning opportunities, and other information as needed. Browse the list of resources here.

LaunchTN is also partnering with Governor Bill Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command to invite proposed solutions to the critical challenges the state now faces. Companies, including entrepreneurs and startups, are encouraged to submit proposals via the Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform, which will allow them to evaluate, perform due diligence and recommend selected solutions to state procurement specialists for fast-track treatment.

All innovators are invited to participate, regardless of whether they’re able to scale at the level needed right now. This long-term project will address immediate needs and continue to serve the state far into the future.

SBA Disaster Assistance
Tennessee small businesses are now eligible for disaster assistance from SBA. Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for up to $2 million in federal assistance to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. To learn more about the application process and loan parameters, click here. To apply, follow this link.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
The programs and initiatives found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. There are many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that are available from the SBA to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.