KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Elevator pitches are online for each competitor in this year’s Innov865 Alliance Startup Day contest. Each short video gives a glimpse of the technology and innovation currently developing in Knoxville’s robust startup scene.
The minute-long proposals are compiled here by media sponsor WATE. Pitches range from technology for fighting climate change to innovation for bringing fitness to schools, along with ideas for healthcare, innovation in security and workplace training.
Innov865’s 2020 Startup Day competition is 2 p.m. Sept. 29, and is part of a weeklong series of events. Pitches on Startup Day will be more detailed than the elevator pitches available currently.
Chris Heively, a co-founder of MapQuest who is nicknamed the “Startup Whisperer,” is a judge for Startup Day. He said that the Knoxvile’s entrepreneurship scene is strong.
“Knoxville is a perfect example of what is possible in this ever-changing economic landscape. You have a great cultural community with diversity around the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” he said. “You have this local, regional, statewide and national network that continues to grow and, in today’s business environment, the lift that a strong network provides can be city-changing.”
Because of those factors, Techstars has been studying the area as a potential incubator for startups. Heively is the vice president of innovation at Techstars.
“There is an immediate opportunity to build on the past entrepreneurial work and set the economic direction for the region,” he said. “We at Techstars are here to identify gaps in the strategy, fill those gaps with the help of all of the local entrepreneurial leaders, and help facilitate the growth of new and existing founders through our experiences, our programs and our hands-on help.”
Meanwhile, the annual “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition that is Innov865’s Startup Day will showcase the work being done already in this area. The event is free and open to the public, registration is required.
Hosted by the Innov865 Alliance, Innov865 Week spotlights Knoxville as a great place to start and grow businesses and connects the entrepreneurs planting roots here with support systems to succeed. The week’s events bring together local leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and the public to support local economic development and celebrate Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The event will be presented virtually using the Knoxville-based technology platform, Lunchpool. Startup Day’s pitch competition will feature six of Knoxville’s most investable startups pitching their businesses in front of a panel of expert judges for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Two prizes are up for grabs: the Innov865 Judges’ Choice prize and the Innov865 Crowd Favorite prize, presented by BB&T and SunTrust Bank, now Truist.
A new addition to the 2020 Startup Day program is the Innov865 Impact Award, presented by Verizon. The Innov865 Impact Award recognizes an inventor who has made a positive impact in the fight against COVID-19. The award, along with the $10,000 in cash prizes from Startup Day, will be presented at the Startup Day Awards Ceremony Friday, October 2 at 11a.m.
The six startups in Startup Day’s pitch competition were selected by the Innov865 Alliance for their potential and investability. They include:
Electro-Active Technologies Inc. – A modular system to convert food waste and renewable electricity into low-cost hydrogen. Their system keeps food waste out of landfills and provides a zero-emission fuel to offset gasoline and diesel use.
Cofounder and CEO: Alex Lewis
490 BioTech – Creates bioluminescent human cells capable of producing a light signal that adjusts in real-time to represent changes in cellular health. The glowing cells can be used by pharmaceutical companies to make safer, more effective, and less expensive medicines.
Cofounder and CSO: Dan Close
Quantum Lock – A smart lock system that is more secure than many current smartphone-based key systems. The technology uses quantum physics to generate keys that are random and untraceable.
Cofounder: Erica Grant
Qardian Labs – Artificial intelligence-based software meant for evaluating heart disease risk and reducing the occurrence of Sudden Cardiac Arrest by improving screening for people in high stress environments.
Founder: Sofia Tomov
PowerUp Fitness – Certification for wellness champions as youth fitness instructors and providing them with the training and support needed to empower youth through fitness, education, and fun in their communities.
Founder and CEO: Stacy Baugues
Songboarding – A subscription-based platform combining music with safety training, providing employers with a fun and memorable alternative to traditional training methods.
Cofounder: Mike Benn
Learn more about Innov865 Week by visiting https://innov865week.com/. The events calendar will be updated as events are added throughout the week.
Contact: Gerald Witt
ABOUT INNOV865 WEEK AND THE INNOV865 ALLIANCE
Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Innov865 Alliance’s mission is to make Knoxville a “nationally recognized” hub of innovation and entrepreneurship by leveraging the region’s world-class research, creative, and technological capabilities to build the most connected and diverse startup community in Tennessee. 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, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit www.innov865.com/.