490 BioTech wins PYA’s inaugural Tom Ballard Innovation Award

TAEBC Energy Mentor Network graduates Eonix and Ascend Manufacturing secure second and third places

Last week, Knoxville-based PYA awarded 490 BioTech the inaugural Tom Ballard Innovation Award. Eonix, LLC and Ascend Manufacturing, Innovation Crossroads Cohort 2 alumni and TAEBC Energy Mentor Network graduates, came in second and third places respectively.

In securing first place, 490 BioTech, a biotechnology startup, will receive $50,000 in in-kind and capital services from PYA. Second place includes $10,000 worth of in-kind strategy support and third place involves $5,000 worth of in-kind strategy support from PYA.

“Today we’re celebrating their accomplishments,” said Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and the award’s namesake, as he recognized the three startups during the award ceremony. Ballard has spent decades working on creating relationships and supporting the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is also the publisher of Teknovation.biz.

According to PYA’s announcement, the Tom Ballard Innovation Award is the largest combination of cash and in-kind services available to startups in the East Tennessee region. Held annually moving forward, the award will support early-stage companies that demonstrate “great promise and an innovative focus.”

“In short, we want entrepreneurs and business owners that start here to stay here. And we want innovation and business that move here to love and thrive here,” said PYA President and Chief Executive Officer Marty Brown. “So, a full support system by long-time East Tennessee businesses is critical to accomplish this. And this award, along with the cash and in-kind services, is just another commitment on behalf of the PYA owners to this entrepreneurial community.”

Ballard is a valued TAEBC member and the inspiration for TAEBC’s annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. In 2019, TAEBC bestowed the first-ever award to Ballard himself during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting.

Learn more about PYA’s Tom Ballard Innovation Award here.

PYA launches Ballard Innovation Award

Knoxville-based PYA recently launched a $50,000 Ballard Innovation Award in honor of Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and long-term ally of the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community. In a video announcing the award, PYA Director of Business Alliances referred to Ballard as “the king of entrepreneurship.” 

According to PYA’s announcement, the Ballard Innovation Award competition is open to any early-stage company in the East Tennessee region that has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue. Applications will open in January 2021 and an award presentation for the top three finalists will take place in March. Here are applicant qualifications for the award:

  • Is located in the geographic East Tennessee area (33 counties as defined by the state of TN) – metro areas include Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri-Cities;
  • Has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue (as outlined);
  • Has achieved between $5,000 and $50,000 in monthly recurring revenues (annualized revenues of between $60,000 – $600,000 and must be “non-grant” revenue from independent customers);
  • Has a business plan to optimize existing business operations by reducing costs, increasing revenues, and/or gaining new efficiencies;
  • Can demonstrate clear innovations that will improve the business;
  • Has a focus on empowering the consumer to become more informed and engaged.

“To say that the ‘PYA Ballard Innovation Award’ was totally unexpected when I was told about it in early November would be a gross understatement,” wrote Ballard in Teknovation.biz about the award. He continued, writing, “More businesses need to get off the sidelines and in the game, helping innovative companies succeed in their communities, and I am so honored to be associated with PYA which is doing its part to help grow the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial assets of this region,.”

In 2019, TAEBC awarded Ballard the first-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. 

“Without Tom Ballard, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council would have never grown to the level of success it experiences today,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “It’s impossible to measure Tom’s impact on Tennessee’s advanced energy economy with words alone, and for that reason he is most deserving of having an award being named in his honor.”

Learn more about PYA’s Ballard Innovation Award competition here and watch the announcement video below.

New COVID-19 Webinar: “Got a payroll? Don’t leave money on the table”

Under the CARES Act, every employer with a payroll has an opportunity to retain cash–whether they have a PPP loan or not. What employers need to know right now.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) along with the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) offer all business owners relief, but the details can be confusing or overlooked.

Perhaps you don’t fully understand how the deferral of the employer’s share of Social Security taxes works. Maybe you wonder if the deferral even applies to you—good news, it does if you have a payroll!

Failure to fully understand your options could cost you money, at a time when “cash is king.”

As part of PYA’s ongoing commitment to sharing helpful guidance, Tax Principals Debbie Ernsberger and Mark Brumbelow will outline issues and opportunities within the CARES Act, and will answer questions during a one-hour complimentary webinar on Wednesday, May 20, at 11 a.m. EDT.

Register here!

If you would like additional information about the CARES Act, PPP, tax deferral, or additional COVID-19 guidance, visit PYA’s COVID-19 hub, or contact a PYA executive below at (800) 270-9629.

TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

It’s a Wrap: TAEBC Completes Filming of Advanced Energy Video Series

TAEBC has been busy the past two months, traveling across the region to film the organization’s first video series. Thanks to the sponsorship of TAEBC Charter members, Silicon Ranch Corporation, Oak Ridge National Lab and Strata-G, three videos were filmed in April and May.

Dan Hurst

Strata-G President Dan Hurst, a TAEBC video sponsor, on set at Maryville College.

The videos take an up close look at the advanced energy sector. Titled “This is Advanced Energy,” “Inside Advanced Energy” and “Innovations in Advanced Energy,” the series features interviews with TAEBC member organizations along with action footage of production, research and development.

TAEBC kicked off filming with an interview at TAEBC Charter member, PYA. Past President Tom Ballard provided insight on what makes Tennessee rich in advanced energy resources and why the industry is a leading economic driver for the state.

TAEBC spent a day at Oak Ridge National Lab, capturing scientific and development aspects of advanced energy and how a concept moves from the idea phase to research to production. ORNL will be the focus of the third video in the series, “Innovations in Advanced Energy.”

While in Middle Tennessee, TAEBC filmed with TAEBC member, Bridgestone, learning about the company’s commitment to energy efficiency in tire production. TAEBC also spent time with TAEBC member, Schneider Electric, taking an in-depth look at microgrid development. TAEBC wrapped up its Nashville area tour at Silicon Ranch Corporation headquarters, hearing about solar advancements in Tennessee.

Matt Kisber

Behind the scenes filming at Silicon Ranch in Nashville. Silicon Ranch is a TAEBC video sponsor.

We traveled to Vonore and visited with TAEBC member, Genera Energy, taking a closer look at biomass processing and switchgrass production. Strata-G hosted TAEBC at the site of one of its energy efficient buildings on the Maryville College campus and also took the camera along for a trip to its natural gas fueling stations in Sevier County.

Other members participating in the production include TAEBC members, Clean Line Energy and PHG Energy, who supplied footage to be included in the video series.

Thank you to all members for making the filming possible. TAEBC will provide sneak peeks and first looks throughout the year in the newsletter and on all social media channels. Photos and video clips are available on the Flickr and YouTube accounts.

The videos are anticipated to be ready for preview in early fall. A launch party is planned for all members and participants. It’s an exciting time to be a TAEBC member. Watch the e-news for more updates and information including a save the date preview invite.