Saturday, October 31, 2009

TN joins NY's AMGEN lawsuit

Tennessee has joined New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's (left) lawsuit against AMGEN, alleging a "nationwide kickback scheme" to spur drug sales of Aranesp by fraudulent billing of Medicaid, others. International Nephrology Network and ASD Healthcare are also named, with AMGEN. Yesterday's NYAG release.

VW: 10 suppliers in subpark

Volkswagen wants perhaps ten of its suppliers parked right next door to its new Enterprise Park plant in Chattanooga, and will lease the suppliers about 400K sq. ft. of space. The TFP reports.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Casillas' MBProject bought by HIMSS

John Casillas' (left) passion has led him to sell the Brentwood-based Medical Banking Project to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (Chicago), which has a strong Nashville chapter. Here's the story in Healthcare Finance News. Here's VNC's story on MBP, a year ago.

Elements Software, Brentwood

Judy Eads, a former nurse, has spent the last couple years developing software to support nurses care of long-term elderly patients. Eads' Elements Software LLC is backed by investors who own long-term care facilities. The NBJ reports in its Oct. 30 edition. Today's NBJ entrepreneurship package also includes items on Pathfinder Therapeutics, TNInvestco, TTDC, Nashville Capital Network and others.

Bioworks might get workforce network

Memphis Bioworks Foundation might become home for the troubled Memphis Workforce Investment Network, which has drawn state criticism for years, while controlled by City of Memphis. The CA reports.

GE bigfoots e-Health

GE Healthcare IT yesterday announced a $90MM investment in launching a new e-Health suite of products and services. Release here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Transcard CEO listed

Chattanooga-based Transcard yesterday announced its CEO, Craig Fuller (left), has been named one of the top five rising stars of the prepaid and stored-value card industry. The release is here.

ORNL director on Fusion

Oak Ridge NL Director Thom Mason told Chairman Bart Gordon's House Science Committee yesterday about ORNL's role in the international effort to achieve energy production through nuclear fusion, and effort underway since at least the Fifties. Here's Frank Munger's KNS column. Here's the international ITER team's site. Here's a backgrounder on fusion.

Wunderlich Memphis 'Entrepreneur of Year'

The University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics honored four executives, including Entrepreneur of the Year Gary Wunderlich (at left), CEO of 13-year-old Wunderlich Securities. The CA reports it.

'48HourLaunch' for startups

In Chattanooga, 48HourLaunch is the latest wrinkle in the boiler room startup game, with several groups coming together for something like StartupWeekend, Nov. 13-15. It's a project involving Chattanooga's CreateHere, LaunchMemphis, Knoxville Overground and others. Chattanooga.com.

Perceptics surveillance advance

Knoxville-based Perceptics Inc. announced yesterday its optical character recognition systems can now read and report on Arabic license plates at border crossings...which just serves to draw our attention to a surveillance-technology company in Tennessee we hadn't noticed before... Release is here.

AEDC Tullahoma role in Ares launch

Engineers at Arnold Engineering Development Center at Tullahoma are high after seeing their wind-tunnel tests contribute to a success Ares I-X launch. The TFP reports.

Cornwall Entrepreneurs workshop

Belmont Entrepreneur Center director and Prof. Jeff Cornwall is conducting a series of three prep and pitch sessions for folks who think they want to be entrepreneurs. Details here.

Where are top STEM grads?

Ed Dodds tweeted this paper on the mysterious evaporation of top-ranked Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grads, leaving a growing pool of less talented degree-holders.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nashville-Nova Scotia ties

Nova Scotia-based companies are teaming with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, World Trade Center Nashville and others to hold another get-together, with Nova Scotian business execs, food and music, Nov. 2. For registration, go here. For more background, here.

Gibson Guitar partnership


Nashville-based Gibson Guitar is partnering with Euro-owned Marker Volkl to produce new Marker-themed guitars in Gibson's custom shop in Davidson County. The release is here.

VW design, jobs at Chattanooga

Volkswagen today released a sketch of the new sedan it'll make at Chattanooga, and said more than 12,000 have applied for jobs there, online. Chattanoogan.com.

5/3rds new PE lending unit

Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) has formed a private-equity lending unit, Fifth Third Sponsor Leveraged Finance,to provide cash flow financings to PE clients, typically businesses with $10 million to $50 million in EBITDA. Release here.

Payment venture relo's to N'ville

Nashville-based Pace Investment Partners has joined with other investors to buy Century Bankcard Services, based in California. The CEO and CFO of that company will be based here in Nashville, and other employees may relocated to Nashville, as well. The VNC story is here.

Tech Council bash honors execs

Although Nashville Technology Council CEO Tod Fetherling aims for more nominees in 2010, he clearly considers last night's Schermerhorn awards event a success, with nearly 400 attending. While pushing recognition of excellence in the tech community, Fetherling has a lot else on his plate. Read about it here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Claritas, Stonehenge joint venture forged

Nashville-based Claritas Capital and Baton Rouge-based Stonehenge Capital Partners are in a joint venture alliance. Although the two firms' venture -- Stonehenge Claritas Capital Fund Tennessee LLC -- did not make the cut in the current round of TNInvestco competition, the firms agreed last summer to enter into a JV pact, to pursue common investment interests, according to Managing Partner John Chadwick (at left). Stonehenge was one of the out-of-state three investment firms that joined forces to introduce what was originally "Capco" legislation to the General Assembly, setting the stage for later substitution of a stronger program: TNInvestco.

Frist's gameplan at HealthStream

Founder-CEO Bobby Frist opened-up a bit on HealthStream's strategy going forward, including leveraging its new Quorum relationships, new emphasis on finding M&A candidates and products and, of course, sales. The story's here.

TNInvestco 'Deciders'

Here's our rundown on the men who are deciding this week who'll get access to $120 MM in TNInvestco assets.

EPB gets $111 million grant for Smart Grid

Chattanooga's EPB has been awarded a $111 million grant to develop the 'smart grid' by the Department of Energy, it was announced today. Chattanoogan.com.

Scientist: St. Jude in Top 10

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been named one of the top 10 places to work by The Scientist magazine, release here.

nTelagent adopts Cloud

nTelagent, the Franklin-based revenue-cycle management technology provider, announced today that by using the Cloud, they're upgrading their point-of-service registration and patient settlement offering. The release is here.

Luminetx Veinviewer pledged for loan

Memphis-based Luminetx has pledged as loan collateral the intellectual property, including patents, associated with its Veinviewer technology. The lender, Christie Digital Systems, is a sub of a Japanese company. Memphis Daily News reports Veinviewer's inventor, Herb Zeman, and other shareholders had considered attempting to take over the company and securing investment capital, to avoid a loan, but that did not happen.

China traveler hints at TN Solar investment

A report this morning in the KNS from Oak Ridge NL communications director Billy Stair suggests an American company might consider a solar-production company in Tennessee. The column is here. Meanwhile: No TN winners in the ARPA-E competition announced yesterday.

TN Stimulus jobs rank high

Even though many of its Congressional delegation voted against some Stimulus measures, Tennessee ranks 5th in the nation in terms of Stim funding generating state jobs. The TFP reports.

Health: RemitDATA

Memphis-based RemitDATA says it now connects more than 20,000 providers with its reimbursement and documentation solutions. Release here.

Gov wannabes stress education

Four Tennessee gubernatorial candidates -- 2 D's, 2 R's -- stressed during a Maryville debate their emphasis on education for Tennesseans. The KNS reports.

Volkwagen: 5K apps first day

Volkswagen began at 7:30 ET Oct. 26 taking applications online for up to 2,000 jobs it'll fill in Hamilton County in 2010-11. Chattanoogan.com has details. UPDATE Oct. 27: On Monday, VW got 5,000 applications online, according to the TFP.

UTC, Armenia lab links

Faculty and students of University of Tennessee-Chattanooga now have a 24/7 link between their labs and labs in Armenia. The TFP reports it here. The work in Armenia is reportedly supported by a grant from NATO Science for Peace Program to UTC, the State Engineering University in Armenia, plus a grant from the Engineering Information Foundation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

HealthStream reports 3Q

HealthStream today reported revenue, net income and EBITDA up over year-earlier, respectively: $14.1MM (3pct); $1MM (68pct); and, $2.5MM (31pct). The full release is here.

Digital Nashville mentoring

Digital Nashville, the 2,000-strong volunteer organization that charges little for anything it does, has launched a mentorship program for innovators in companies, entrepreneurs, freelancers and others. The story's here.

TNInvestco's 'not enough' says TTDC

The State of Tennessee's new venture-capital formation initiative, TNInvestco, isn't enough, by itself, to propel the state's New-Economy, says a report from TTDC. Meanwhile, TTDC is beginning to jockey for a seat at the Bredesen Administration's budget table. The story's here.

VU science gets boost

A VU release this afternoon: "Figuring out how biological clocks evolved and extracting clues from electronic medical records to study environmental factors that cause cancer: These are the goals of two projects that have been funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) program which supports speculative research that may have a profound impact on our understanding of biology and human disease." For the full story, please go here.

Knoxville Boomers' venture

They thought they had a lock on their retirement til they lost their jobs in Knoxville, late in their careers. So, they started a new consulting business, Brown Pearman Russell. The KNS reports it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

EMR: Killer App?

The Washington Post reports that for all the pressure toward health-medical digitization, there are reports of deaths and complications caused by faulty software, muffed implementation and more. Today's story's here.

iPhone apps in Mid-TN

The Tennessean's iPhone app roundup this morning includes mention of locals Firefly Logic, Griffin Technology, gpsAssassin and others. Here are earlier VNC stories on gpsAssassin and Change:Healthcare.

Obama O-source at WhiteHouse.gov

The Obama Administration announced it has adopted Drupal to run WhiteHouse.gov, which Drupal fans claim is a major victory. We don't know whether or not The White House move was influenced by Marcus Whitney's presentation at Barcamp Nashville.

AT&T U-verse in Eastate

Eighteen months after winning the right for statewide video franchise for its new U-verse TV service, AT&T is lighting-up in East Tennessee. The KNS reports.

Memphis economic gloom

A Federal Reserve survey shows business confidence stalling in Memphis, with logistics volume a rare brightspot. The CA reports.

TN delegates want IP protection

The CA reports that U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Tanner are among Tennessee Members of Congress pressing for intellectual property protections during climate-change technology talks.

Airstream, Kayak biz breezy

A Hamilton County resident found so much interest in his restored Airstream classic trailer, he started the motoring icon for others, and found himself in a new business. The TFP tells the story. In The Tennessean, meanwhile, Bonna Johnson tells the story of Jackson Kayak, in Sparta.

'Smart' Chattanooga technology

An IBM sales exec based in Chattanooga cites schools, roadway traffic controls, airport security and other city infrastructure as needing upgraded information technologies to improve performance and quality of life. The TFP has it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

TN capital shortage for startups

TTDC President Eric Cromwell and EastTN entrepreneurs agreed in a panel discussion this week, during the Innovation Imperative venture forum, that TN still has a capital shortage for startups. The KNS reports. TTDC, meanwhile, has its own funding challenges.

NV Entrepreneur Center peer metrics

Nashville Entrepreneur Center has a good first web presence, but in this interim while a fundraising campaign is being planned and executed, a CEO, an operating budget and a bricks-and-mortar facility remain over the horizon. Meanwhile, the EC has laid out its near-term objectives, and there are many. Among the bulletpoints is a reference to a peer -- the Technology Venture Development office of the University of Utah, which conducts, among a wide range of other activities, actual tech transfer and commercialization, and apparently gets grants and royalties. Related VNC coverage is here.

State pension fund recovers some

State Treasurer David Lillard told a Kingsport audience the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System pension fund has recovered from a Recession low of $23Bn to about $29Bn. Prior to the Recession's precipitous drop, the fund had reached about $33Bn. The Times News reports.

Salesforce.com guru on The Cloud

Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff offers interesting comments on the Cloud and the future, and how to get there. This morning's Mercury News reports.

Aussie does Memphis

Peter Sheahan (left), a branding and GenY expert and one of Australia's top-rated keynote speakers, told a Memphis audience it's time to re-imagine the Memphis narrative, tell a new story about the city's prospects and help people find opportunities that are plentiful to make contributions to the city. The CA reports. Sheahan's site is here.

Unemployment 17%

First Tennessee Chief Economist Chris Low told a Chattanooga audience yesterday the nation's unemployment rate is more accurately pegged at about 17 percent, due to underemployment, discouraged workers, and other factors. The TFP reports.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tradingo.com booms in Knoxville

You never know what'll do it: In this case, Knoxville-based web-trading and -auction site Tradingo.com, latched onto debris from a demolished Buffalo Memorial Stadium, and apparently Sabres hockey fans are legion, because business is suddenly booming. The KNS reports today. An earlier MetroPulse piece. Tradingo.com COO Scott Scheinbaum, 39, (at left, in MeroPulse pic) told VNC this afternoon that he's a former staff member at failed startup Idleaire, but has worked with a number of ventures in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. A Chicago native himself, but the son of a Knoxville native, he got his undergrad in Music and Computer Science at UT-Knoxville in 1983. Tradingo.com's CEO is Thomas 'TJ' McNamara, whose dayjob is that of an SVP with DemCo Power Services Group, which builds and demolishes facilities. McNamara works from Knoxville, but DemCo is based in upstate NY. Tradingo.com is a Delaware corp.

Petra invests in transcription co.

Green Hills-based Petra Capital Partners announced today it's $6MM investment in Plano, Texas-based Superior Global Solutions, Inc. Read about it here.

SEC seeks capital-formation ideas

The Securites and Exchange Commission announced yesterday it's looking for ideas on creating fresh caches of capital for small businesses. Related key topic: the definition of "accredited investor" for private and limited offerings. Your ideas will be considered in shaping the SEC's Nov. 19th conference on the same topic. For details on submitting your ideas, please click here.

Xtend Healthcare's RCM reentry

In today's NBJ, Jenny Burns does about as well as anyone could in guiding us through the winding trail that has led former Advanced Receivables Strategy Inc. executives to gain control of what is now Sumner County-based Xtend Healthcare LLC, a business previously associated with the names TransCend Healthcare LLC, Healthcare Management Resources (HMR) and Xtensia. Former ARS execs who are now Xtend CEO Tom O'Neill and Xtend President Howard Kirschner -- plus former Xtensia/TransCend owner and now COO Paul La Scola -- are all apparently happy to be back in the revenue-cycle and practice-management field. Worth noting: NBJ says that along the way, HMR became embroiled in litigation with VCs Salix Ventures, Petra Capital and Clayton Associates, after HMR officers and owners were charged with inflating numbers. NBJ says the dispute was resolved through a court-sealed settlement. Bottom line: the new management teams says it'll grow the now-60-employee company to reach the fabled "next level." Here's the NBJ story.

Frontier Cap exits health IT, data cos.

Maybe now that Charlotte, N.C.-based Frontier Capital has exited Peak10 and Anodyne Health Partners (announced yesterday), it'll have more cash to shop Tennessee companies, per its plans announced nearly a year ago, before the recent economic unpleasantness. At left is Seth Harward, Frontier's dealflow developer, who occasionally visits Music City. Anodyne was bought by Waterown, Mass.-based Athena Health,which is in the EHR and practice-management space. Frontier's share of Peak10 was taken out by Omaha-based McCarthy Group LLC.

Ousted UT President honored

Former University of Tennessee President John Shumaker, whose brief term as president of UT was marred by controversies, is being honored with a building named for him at the University of Louisville, where he served as chief exec, prior to UT. KNS reports.

UT Nautilus supercomputer

The UT Daily Beacon provides background on the $10MM NSF grant for the Nautilus supercomputer, which will be housed in a UT lab at Oak Ridge NL. Beacon story here.

TVA wind rises

TVA yesterday announced it is buying renewable wind energy from two sites in the Dakotas. TVA release here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ennis: '2010 Year of Nashville'

Tech entrepreneur and consultant Chris Ennis (left) told the Barcamp Nashville crowd Saturday, "2010 should be the year of Nashville," if locals won't be stymied by a can't-happen-here mindset. Ennis urged his audience to talk-up Nashville at other conferences (e.g., SXSW), bring friends into the tech community, and celebrate innovators among us. He also suggested that the notion that inventors have to go elsewhere to get a fair hearing with investors and others is partly bunk. Ennis said that "great ideas" must, inherently, be "great" enough to work here. He also insisted the Nashville region has extraordinary resources in its nearly 20 colleges and universities, is uncommonly friendly to business, great beta-testing venues and "unparalleled" cultural resources. Said Ennis, Nashville should have "a seat at the table" when innovators converge. We may not be ready yet to compete with the Bay Area, he said, but Nashville is definitely ready to take-on the "secondary" tech centers of Austin, Portland and Research Triangle. Ennis is currently involved with three Web-enabled companies and has previously maintained his own creative-services and IT consulting firm, among other interests. His academic journey has included stops at MTSU, U. Memphis, Clemson and Auburn. Related report from Barcamp, here. Other VNC coverage.

CEO exhorts N'ville techies to innovate, not emulate

There's much to contemplate in Marcus Whitney's latest push for technology leadership, for himself and for Nashville. It's not just the big event he's invested so heavily in, it's the questions he raises about how Nashville techies seem themselves -- whether as leaders or followers. The story's here.

WKU gets rare electron scope

Western Kentucky University academics believe the Bowling Green, Ky., campus will become a national and international scientific destination, because the university's new scanning electron microscope is one of only two in the U.S., and the only one open to the public, rather than military. WKU obtained the new equipment via Oak Ridge NL. BGDN reports it.

Google Music search

The Tennessean reports on Google's plans to launch next week a Music search and download feature, with Music Row response. The story's been breaking in WIRED.. TechCrunch, PCWorld and elsewhere. Users will listen to music via LaLa or iLike, according to reports. We believe that's WIRED's art, at left, but we're not sure.

Sen. Norris' bleak view of state budget

State Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) gave the Memphis arm of the NFIB a very bleak view of the state budget in the next couple years, forecasting deep cuts in programs each of the next two sessions. The CA reports.

Shelby incentives for jobs

Shelby County's Industrial Development Board is crafting new incentives for existing businesses to maintain current employment levels. The CA reports.

BCBSTN performance exec

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee announced that Tom Lundquist, M.D., at left, (Penn State, Johns Hopkins), formerly chief medical officer with Wexford Health Services (Pittsburgh, Pa.), is now in charge of monitoring healthcare providers performance and improving healthcare delivery. He'll rely heavily on informatics. Chattanoogan.com reports.

Frist's SCORE's k-12 ed roadmap

The Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), led for former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, M.D., today offers its roadmap for Tennessee k-12 education reform. The entire report is here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ezell chairmanship to Partridge

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessean Chairman DeWitt Ezell has passed the baton to Chattanooga entrepreneur and minority-business lender Lamar Partridge (at left). Chattanoogan.com reports.

TN Biotech leadership at issue

Tennessee Biotechnology Association says it wants to live up to its name, but Tennessee Technology Development Corporation doubts it can. The story's here.

TTDC funding

Tennessee Technology Development Corporation's funding is gradually being drained by its multifront activities. TTDC has made demonstrable contributions in the past two years, but the jury's inevitably out in a number of areas. It is, after all, a long-term process. Add to that the perilous economy and downright creaky state-revenue picture, and you can see why TTDC doesn't take future state funding of its work for granted. Here's our update story.

HMS-Passport Alliance

Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) and Passport Health Communications today announced they're tightening their existing alliance, with HMS now offering Passport’s patient access management services as an integrated solution within various HMS' systems and platforms. Earlier HMS story here. Earlier Passport coverage here.

PureSafety, Comdata launches

New offerings: Franklin-based PureSafety, a provider of training, safety, occupational health and medical management software and information solutions, has released the industry’s first Learning and Safety Management System (LSMS). The system can integrate training, safety and compliance. ...Not far away in Brentwood, Comdata Corp. launched Comdata Smart Solutions, a suite of point-of-sale products for convenience stores, truck stops and unattended fuel locations. Farther afield, in Memphis, Sedgwick Claims Management Services unveiled new Medicare compliance functionality for its provider customers.

VC quarterly update

PWC-NVCA-MoneyTree roundup says $16.8MM went to five TN firms in 3Q. The TSN reports it here. One firm named: edo Interactive. Meanwhile, PEHub, among others, complains about conflicting numbers.

Memphis entrepreneur shares

Memphis entrepreneur Spence Wilson, heir of the Holiday Inns legacy, shares today in the CA about the joy of family-owned business and investing in hundreds of other deals. There are Escalator Pitch, Barcamp Memphis and other events coming up, from LaunchMemphis.

Health online proliferates

WiserTogether.com is one of a number of localized social Health sites proliferating. Here's their beta. Here's the related Washington Post story.

Vacant TNsites leverageable

Abandoned millworks and other sites will be valuable properties for economic development, Come the Recovery, according to today's story in the Times Free Press.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brentwood Capital guided HMS

Yesterday, not long after we published our piece on Tom Stephenson's Healthcare Management Systems hitting the $75MM mark, Tom wrote to add that Brentwood Capital Advisors had been HMS' financial advisor in acquiring HMS' new EMR product from a seller who has not been disclosed.

TSN on TNInvestco

The Tennessean's Getahn Ward recaps TNInvestco status, including criticism from Rutgers Assistant Prof. Julia Sass Rubin (at left), who holds the program is superfluous; Owen Prof. Bruce Lynskey, who stresses importance of true seed-stage investment; and, Belmont Prof. Jeff Cornwall, who says VC, alone, won't ignite TN entrepreneurism, and TNInvestco must be part of a broader TN strategy. That's how TTDC sees it, as well. Earlier VNC TNInvestco coverage here.. and blogposts here.

Biz incubator offers suites

Nashville Business Incubation Center offers new, even more affordable "suites." WPLN Nashville Public Radio reports here. Earlier VNC reports on the business incubator are here.

Nissan Leaf debut tomorrow

Nissan's Leaf debuts tomorrow at the Tokyo Motor Show. WIRED offers this advancer. WIRED also reports on the card's new iPhone app controller. An AP story in the Times Free Press this morning has CEO Carlos Ghosn saying that e-cars will cost more than regular cars, by the time they reach scale. He predicts e-cards with 10 percent of market by 2020.

ORNL may finance outside

ORNL may resort, as it has previously, to outside financing for development of its new computational data center. The KNS reports.

Knox techie creates e-savings tool

IT services provider Stephen Dawson has created a tech product to enable homeowners to control multiple thermostates in their homes. The KNS' Larisa Brass reports.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pandora 'Song Decoders'

In yesterday's New York Times Magazine essay on the work of musicologists at Pandora, there are many interesting bits -- the 350 pitches to VCs who turned it down, the fact that Pandora (maybe) cannot account for taste, the breadth of the Music Genome Project, the power of cool, and the growing ranks of potential competitors, including Slacker.com and Spotify, the latter a forthcoming Euro import. Worth a read for anyone pitching a Music-oriented bizplan. Pandora was created by Tim Westergren (left).

Gov hopefuls on TNInvestco

Tennessee's 2010 Gubernatorial hopefuls made clear in this Kingsport Times Press story that they want to keep the industry-recruitment juggernaut going, by retaining incentives -- including TNInvestco -- and improving education. One candidate stressed the need for ROI flowing from incentives.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

VU Engineering update

Vanderbilt Engineering magazine provides a report on Lloyd Massengill's work in the Microelectronics Radiation Effects and Reliability research group and VUSE's Institute for Space and Defense Electronics.

Cellular South acquisition

Jackson, Miss.-based Cellular South announced plans to buy Alabama-based Corr Wireless. Release here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NV techies in VC crosshairs

nTelagent and other healthcare companies are attracting more interest from VCs, reports NBJ. Data security concerns are driving growth at Franklin-based Cybera Inc., which creates dedicated private transactions networks, according to NBJ's Linda Bryant. Cybera is backed in part by Claritas Capital, based in Nashville, as well as by Louisville-base Chrysalis Ventures and Chicago-based Adam Street Partners.

Innovation Valley strategy

Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley yesterday unveiled a plan to focus on recruiting companies and nourishing existing firms in four specific industries: instrumentation, nuclear energy, bioenergy and energy-related materials. The KNS reports.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Regions names President

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) announced today that Vice Chairman Grayson Hall, Jr., age 52, has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of the bank holding company. Hall, head of Regions’ General Bank Group, is a 29-year veteran of the company, and has been responsible for banks in four geographic regions, as well as corporate IT and Morgan Keegan. Release is here.

Marcum TNInvestco scenario

Dan Marcum, co-founder with wife Fran of Tullahoma-based Marcum Capital, said today that he's identified two tech companies -- one in Arizona, one in North Carolina -- that he could invest in, if bolstered by TNInvestco funds; and, Marcum said the entrepreneurs involved in both ventures have already agreed to relocate their companies to Tennessee, if he invests. (MBVP's Gary Stevenson, also involved in a TNInvestco finalist fund, recently shared a similar scenario with VNC, here.) Fran Marcum (left) is lead founder of NEST-TN LLC, which is one of 10 TNInvestco finalists. Though rumors are rife that ECD-Revenue have picked the TNInvestco winners, an ECD spokeswoman denied that today, adding that the winners are still to be announced on or about Nov. 1. That timeline is the one that's been laid-out for weeks, although it is not binding on the two commissioners overseeing the award of grants. Gov. Phil Bredesen, ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber depart soon for a 12-day business mission to Japan and China, placing them back in Music City, albeit jet-lagged, just a few days before the TNInvestco announcement milestone arrives.

TN technology movers

Nashville-based Landmark Digital, a sub of BMI, was named Innovator of the Year for its audio-recognition technology (purchased from Shazam in 2005) during the Nashville Music Awards, Oct. 7... HealthIT Insight, a media outlet and conference organizer, named Nashville-based Informatics Corporation of America's (ICA) IT for integrating hospital and clinical systems "Best New Technology," placing it among Intel and VMWare, which won in market-potential and ROI categories, respectively... Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) said in a release Wednesday it'll launch a proprietary ambulatory electronic medical record and practice management solution called HMS Ambulatory EMR, later this month. HMS says it will apply for federal certifications that would help customers qualify for ARRA Hightech funds for puchasing the systems.

TN Math gain: Zero

Tennessee K-12 students' Math achievement continues to lag most states in the nation, according to the latest report from the Nation's Report Card, and today's story in The Tennessean.

Innovation Imperative event

Tech2020's Innovation Imperative conference (formerly, TN Valley Venture Forum) convenes in Knoxville, Oct. 20. Here's an advance KNS story. Here's the event website.

Savoie released by Japanese

Local tech entrepreneur Christopher Savoie of TazzleIT has been released from jail in Japan, where he'd been held 18 days in the wake of his attempt to seize his two children from his former wife, who had returned to her native country with the children, in apparent contravention of a U.S. court order. The AP reports via the KNS.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BioMimetic trial results in

BioMimetic Therapeutics Inc. announced yesterday impressive data from randomized trials of its Augment Bone Graft product, showing it performed well in comparison with material harvested via autograft. The release is here. At 4:20 p.m. CT today, the stock was up about 20 percent over day-earlier.

HealthHonors to Healthways

Healthways is paying $14.7MM upfront, plus earn-out to acquire HealthHonors. In a release, Healthways said, in part, "Healthways will integrate the HealthHonors science and technology into Embrace™, Healthways’ comprehensive information system, to enhance sustained engagement in healthy behaviors." The full release is here.

Entrepreneurs pitch Memphis VCs

Twenty-two entrepreneurs with startups pitched venture capitalists today during the final day of the Memphis Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference, which hosts tout as the largest such event in the state. The CA reports.

Freedman on the move, again

Legendary serial entrepreneur Joe Freedman, 44, is pushing or helping push three new startups in the legal-services arena, where he's earned his stripes during the past 15 years. The VNC story is here.

Recruiting local Bio talent

Dan Ryan, Steve Hayes, Paul Sanderson offer their views on what's hot, and what's not in Bio in Middle Tennessee. It's not all bad news. The VNC story is here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Byrd fingers TNInvestco

Given that Solidus-owned Southcomm's PostPolitics blog via NashvillePost.com is one of the most frequent re-posters of Mike Byrd's Enclave blogposts, we might as well save A.C. Kleinheider the trouble: Byrd's opinion on how TNInvestco supposedly inappropriately pleasures VC Solidus, which owns Southcomm, et al, is linked here. Apart from Byrd's avowed concern about the media consolidation represented in holding-company Southcomm, the burr here seems to be as much about the evergreen topic of economic-development incentives for current and future Tennessee businesses, as it is the issue of media ownership and-or ethical conflicts Byrd imagines flowing from Southcomm media coverage of TNInvestco. Related: NashvilleScene columnist Bruce Barry offers two pieces relevant here: pieces 1 and 2.

Diatherix H1N1 test greenlighted

DIATHERIX Laboratories, based in Huntsville, with offices in Middle Tennessee, announced it has been granted emergency use authorization by the FDA for its DIATHERIX H1N1-09 Influenza Test.

Thomas Nelson e-pub gambit

Thomas Nelson, the Nashville-based Christian publisher, announced it's partnering with self-publisher Bloomington, Ind.-based Author Solutions Inc., to launch WestBow Press, as a Christian self-publishing imprint.

Claritas Capital $100MM Mezz

The WSJ venture blog reports today on Claritas Capital's Specialty Debt Fund LP's targeted $100MM mezzanine fund raise, now underway, under Claritas Fund Managing Partner Burton Harvey (left). WSJ says Claritas aims to help companies in $2-10MM EBITDA range, a field largely abandoned by bank lenders, with debt deals ranging $3MM-$15MM. Claritas will charge 12-14% interest, plus 2 percent, and will often get warrants. Burton pointed out mezz debt is counter-cyclical. DJ VentureWire carried the story yesterday. Prior to joining Claritas earlier this year, Harvey was at Morgan Keegan, Finova Mezzanine Capital (formerly Sirrom), Bank of America and Wachovia.

EmergeMemphis mentors

EmergeMemphis, the incubator, says it will soon have an entrepreneur-in-residence program, with the executive mentoring resident companies and conducting entrepreneurial forums. RemitData founder and CEO Bently Goodwin is the first entrepreneur in residence. The CA reports. RemitData is a revenue-cycle and practice-management SaaS provider. The company is a former resident of EmergeMemphis.

Stimulus impact in TN

Deputy Gov. and former Comptroller John Morgan released reporting showing that State's management of first Stimulus funds has produced or saved from eradication more than 7,000 jobs. The TFP's Andy Sher reports.

Noog hosts IBM economist

Phil Swan, Ph.D., chief economist for IBM and member of the President's economic council, will address Chattanooga leaders Thursday, Oct. 15, and will host a panel discussion of local business execs, discussing coping with the global economy. Chattanoogan.com reports.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Small-biz Bail-Out idea

Patriarch Partners Founder-CEO Lynn Tilton (left) brings her proposal for Rescue Loans for small- and medium-sized businesses to the National Press Club, where she'll participate in a Newsmaker briefing, this Thursday, Oct. 15. The Patriarch site is here. She wants to provide rescue loans to small and mid-sized enterprises, which she notes have had "no access to capital." Rescue loans, coupled with new efforts toward innovation, will turn the tide, she says. Either way, she says in a video interview, "It's going to be a long time" til normality returns. The site for her rescue proposal is here.

FiledBy, StudioNow pact

Two Nashville firms are collaborating: FiledBy, which provides author's web presence and other marketing support, announced it is teaming with StudioNow, which has a network of videographers and other creatives nationwide, to produce and upload videos for authors.

Campus R&D roundup

Prions: Vanderbilt University researchers illuminate infection actor... while another prof gets grant to develop statistical methods for studying and teaching others about interrelationships among various life forms within the "Tree of Life"... Abelquist assumes Oak Ridge NL senior-management role... New rotary-engine design being tested at Knoxville's National Transportation Research Center... Ag institute gets $25MM for biofuels and plant research... UT tapping professor's lean-management expertise to slim university's budget... Munger chronicles ORNL's "weird" history... Recap ORNL's $1.6Bn in Stimulus funds... Return to The VN Blog homepage.

Scripps: Buy or be bought?

Broadcasting & Cable reviews Knoxville-linked Scripps Networks Interactive's surge and its prospects as buyer or acquisition target. HT to KNS.

WTN megasite update

Rick Locker of the CA gives a full recap of the recent history of the TVA-sanctioned Haywood County megasite, for which land is now being acquired. Folks from Memphis to Jackson have big hopes to emulate the successes of the megasites at Chattanooga and Clarksville.

e-Car grid in TN

The Tennessean reports (Oct. 11) on the challenges ahead for recharging e-cars in Tennessee.

Memphis pitching

Memphis has both Escalator Pitch and Barcamp events planned for the next few weeks. The details are here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TN revenue continues slide

State Treasurer David Lillard told a mid-state civic group that state revenues are still sliding, in an erosion that won't end before the end of 2010, 15 months away. Jackson Sun reports.

e-Publishing venture, SiValley

FastPencil, out of Silicon Valley, is latest entrant in e-publishing, Mercury News story here. FastPencil home is here.

Friday, October 09, 2009

NASBA chief 'Most Influential'

David Costello (left), the CEO of an influential professional association headquartered in Nashville -- NASBA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountacy -- has for the 12th consecutive time been included in Accounting Today's list of 100 most influential persons in Accounting. The NASBA release is here.

Research firm thriving

Thompson Research Group, a standalone equities and sectors research firm populated mainly by former Avondale execs, is thriving, according to today's report from NashvillePost.com. Construction equipment, engineering, materials and residential-building suppliers are the new company's focal-points. Cofounders: Kathryn Thompson, Chris White, John Fink.

Nobel Prize to President Obama

In what is being described as a "stunning" decision, the Nobel Committee has awarded the Peace Prize to President Barack Obama. The Washington Post reports.

TVA software open access

TVA software code for controlling the smart power grid is now open for use by others, according to Chattanoogan.com. Related info is here.

Solar sprouts in Knox bizpark

A Knoxville entrepreneur is proposing a new Solar farm in Eastbridge Business Park, if he can get the capital. He envisions businesses also making their rooftops available across town. Some see in the idea a promotional boost, at minimum, for the city. The KNS reports. Meanwhile, a KNS blogger hints the city may be pursuing a major life-sciences employer.

Startup Weekend deux

NP.com reports on the looming Nashville Startup Weekend II, at the Owen GSM. Last year's successful event is noted here, and one iPhone venture that got its start there is chronicled here.

NASDAQ tags Spyris

Louisville-based Sypris Solutions, which provides outsourced tech and related services, got a mild rap on the knuckles from NASDAQ, for having erred in notifying shareholders. Louisville Bus. Journal reports.

More on Perry engine development

Nashville Business Journal (sub) today on page 4 reports on MTSU Prof. Charles Perry's hybrid plug-in electric motor, which is vying for grants in an increasingly crowded field. Earlier related VNC story here.

FourBridges touts TNInvestco role

FourBridges Capital Advisors does a good job in today's release explaining the firm's role in supporting the TNInvestco Consortium, which provides four of 10 surviving TNInvestco applicants help in securing participation agreements from qualifying insurance companies. FourBridges is based in Chattanooga. Related post here. Other TNInvestco coverage.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

edo Interactive Update

edo Interactive CEO Ed Braswell (at left), 51, is banking on a boom in his startup's business: In a recent interview with VNC, Braswell said he believes that before year's-end, "we'll be managing some of the largest card programs in the country, some of the largest brands." He would not provide details, but the statement reinforces the sense edo may focus more on B2B customers who control strong brands, rather than on consumers. (So far, Coca-Cola, H&R Block and Baskin-Robbins have partnered with edo.) Braswell pointed out he has raised $15 million in outside capital, and has recently heavied-up his management ranks, preparing for a surge. In September, he announced hiring veteran tech marketer Jay Graves as edo's chief technology officer; and, Lisa McGinty as vice president for business development. As of Sept. 25, edo Interactive had 21 employees, 18 of them based here. What do they do all day? In what he calls his "one-floor elevator pitch," Braswell said edo is creating "a new advertising channel for retailers with financial card products." Edo isn't putting all its eggs in its own prepaid debit cards (represented by its Facecard flagship and nine other branded cards). Instead, the company is stepping-up its effort to get financial institutions and other brand-owners to integrate edo's Prewards technology and advertising platform into their operations, expanding an important revenue stream. Touting "edo Technology Solutions," the edo site says the company "is a pioneer in developing technologies that leverage pre-existing global, point of sale (POS) payments infrastructure along with modern social networking communities for digital marketing purposes." Earlier VNC coverage of edo Interactive is here.

Noro-Moseley keeps eye on Digital

We caught up with Noro-Moseley's Michael Elliott for a little more detail on the departure of NMP's former digital-media specialist, Greg Foster, and what it portends for media startups seeking capital from this company, which maintains a steady Nashville presence, despite its Atlanta Beltway location. Here's the story.

First Merc's investments chief

Cordova, Tenn.-based First Mercantile Trust Company, a member of the MassMutual Financial Group, appointed C. Edwin Riley to the post of chief investment officer (CIO). Riley was previously with Nationwide Financial, where he was vp-CIO. He earned his bachelor's at West Virginia University and is FINRA registered.

TNInvestco competitor's Biopharma chops

Joe Cook, who turns out to be even more ubiquitous that we previously thought, brings a strong bio-pharma bent to the TNInvestco competition that's making its way forward. Cook's involvement with Mountain Group Capital and other ventures represents a lot of expertise at the table. Here's the story.

Lackey adds interim CEO title

EnableComp Inc. board member and former CEO of Passport Health Communications Jim Lackey (left) is now interim CEO for EnableComp. That title was previously held by EnableComp founder David Iskowe. Erin Lawley at NashvillePost.com reports. Lackey stood down in April from the Passport helm, making way for Scott McKenzie. Lackey remains chairman of the Passport board.

Oak Ridge EMR technology licensed

The Oak Ridge Y12 Security Complex has developed electronic medical records (EMR) technology that has become a standard in some quarters, and which is now licensed to Healthcare Technology Partners LLC of Plymouth, Mass., which may form a pact with Terramark Worldwide, a web-hosting company. The OakRidger reports.

Rival carmakers tout Tunica

Two rival Chinese entrepreneurs say they are going to make massive investments in building hybrid autos in Tunica and elsewhere. Skeptics abound. The CA reports.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lennox Hearth now home in NV

The Hearth Products division of NYSE-listed Lennox International announced today with the Nashville Area Chamber, Metro Government, et al, that it is moving its R&D operation here from California, partly to be closer to Lennox's Union City manufacturing facility. There are 70 jobs moving, but a spokesman at Lennox said there's no estimate, yet, on how many employees might relocate from the Left Coast.

NBIC's startup 'mini-suites'

We don't know whether it's the news of XMi's new incubator, or the down economy or what...but, Nashville Business Incubation Center (NBIC) says it'll waive the requirement of submitting a business plan and other hurdles, if you'd like to move out of your current digs into NBIC offices in the 130 to 400 sq. ft. range, for as little as $250 per month, including Internet, common-areas access, etc.

Ins and Outs: TNInvestco finalists

TNInvestco finalists were announced this morning, a list of ten companies that did not, it will be noted, include two of the three advocates who first introduced through friendly legislators what was then CAPCO legislation into the Tennessee General Assembly. Neither Stonehenge nor Advantage picked a Tennessee partner that survived the cut announced this morning. Then, too, neither did the StartTN entry from Ray Capp at ConduIT Corporation, or many others. Here's this morning's VNC story.

Kraken now petascale

The Kraken (CrayXT5) computer at the University of Tennessee has become the first academic computer to hit the petascale milestone, meaning it can perform 1,000 Trillion operations per second, and has a memory equivalent to storage of 10 million telephone directories. The university's release is here. UT earlier announced it's creating a center for remote data analysis and visualization, funded by an NSF grant.

Memphis Energy conference

The 2009 TAPPI International Bioenergy and Bioproducts Conference (IBBC) will be held October 14-16 in Memphis. Details here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Soros' Emdeon stake

Geert De Lombaerde reports this afternoon on an SEC filing showing that George Soros' fund owns more than 7 percent of Nashville-based Emdeon.

CredenceHealth: THA vendor

Brentwood-based CredenceHealth Inc. and Tennessee Hospital Association Solutions Group today announced the Solutions Group is endorsing CredenceHealth technologies that can improve medical outcomes, as well as hospitals' financial and operational performance. That's Credence Co-founder and CEO Justin Lanning, at left.

ABT Molecular A-round ends

Knoxville-base ABT Molecular Imaging got its first outside capital in a $9MM A-round led by Durham, N.C.-based Intersouth Partners, with company founders. Intersouth's release is here.

Team Health IPO shelf

Knoxville-based Team Health Holdings, which staffs Emergency departments and supplies hospitals with hospitalist physicians, this morning filed its S-1 shelf registration with the SEC, explaining it'll use up to $100MM of the proceeds for repayment of corporate debt and other purposes. Updated Oct. 10: KNS story.

DigitalVU month

Tomorrow, Vanderbilt University launches its second DigitalVU program, with presentations for the campus community on using a wide range of technologies available for employees, students and others. They'll keep adding items to the agenda, here.

Oak Ridge NL visitors up

Roughly one tour group per day visits Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a record not seen since the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. Here's Frank Munger on the trend, in the KNS.

Monday, October 05, 2009

TNInvestco stamps entry from ConduIT, Addison execs

[Corrected 10:38 a.m.] ConduIT Corporation Chairman Ray Capp, a former president of Nashville Technology Council and a veteran of Ingram, got his ticket punched today by TNInvestco, when his StarTN Fund LLC application was accepted. The letter includes reference to Pat Shepherd, chief administrative officer of Avondale Partners here, but we were informed after publication of our original post that Shepherd is not a principal in StarTN and is only serving as a member of Capp's new entity's investment committee, partly because Shepherd is a member of the board of ConduIT Corp. ConduIT is a seed-stage incubator, originally with ties to Vanderbilt. As previously reported here, Addison Capital got a green light, so far, also, with its TCB Early Stage B LLC now in the hopper. Stuart Brunson also confirmed to VNC this morning he got a TNInvestco message of acceptance for his Pointer Capital Partners Rural TNInvesto Fund, LLC. The State's page is here. Previous VNC Blog posts here and VNC TNInvestco stories here.

VU grad led Google Earth

Vanderbilt University School of Engineering Biomed Engineering grad Chikai Ohazama (left) was instrumental in launching what is now Google Earth. Now, according to Vanderbilt Engineer magazine, he is a Google director of product management, leading the revenue- generating efforts for Google Maps and Earth, and managing the global high-resolution imagery database and the systems that organize Google's global geographic information. Ohazama joined Google after the company bought a startup venture Keyhole Inc., which Ohazama apparently co-founded and served as operations director. Here, in a USPTO document, he is listed first among investors of a Google Earth server data file. He earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University. In 2006, Ohazama blogged about his long association with the Earth product.

SIGNiX signs partners

Chattanooga-based SIGNiX, which provides electronic signature capabilities, has inked deals with new channel partners to expand marketing. The new partners include Lotus and IBM. Chattanoogan.com.

Hospital M&A pipeline gorged

The lingering slump has left many hospitals without strength to continue operations on a status quo basis, making them chum-in-the-water for acquisitive companies. The City Paper-NashvillePost reports.

Solar 'surge' questioned

The Times Free Press' Free-Press editorial staff raise questions about the significance of any investment in Solar, given the huge federal subsidies that are arguably distorting the economics of the sector.

Friday, October 02, 2009

TNInvestco accepts Addison app

[5:45 p.m.] At this hour, the rumor persists that there were 25 TNInvestco applicants, but only 22 have been posted. However, VNC just received confirmation from Andrew Forsdick, a former Coopers & Lybrand manager who is now general partner with Addison Capital Advisors, that he received an e-mail today from TNInvestco staff saying that Addison's app has been approved. Addison Capital is backed by J.T. Novarese, a well known Memphis businessman whose family owned Pop Tunes, which was the oldest retail music distributorship in the U.S., but was sold to Nashville's Music City Record Distributors, in 2001. Addison Capital has investments in Park Media (digital signage), Telco Television (content aggregation for cable and IPTV), VO2 Networks (VOIP phones and related), and Energy Savings, which makes energy-saving products for HVAC and auto applications. A second supposed applicant is Pointer Capital Partners Rural TNInvestco Fund LLC, which is directed by former Bredesen Administration Deputy Governor Stuart Brunson. VNC has not determined whether or not Brunson's firm is linked to Pointer Capital LLC, based in Atlanta. Here's the State's official TNInvestco list. Here are links to search the VNC blog and VNC news site for related stories. As noted, there may also be a 25th approved application, but no word on when those two or more additional shoes might drop.

TNInvestco attracts Marcum, Advantage

[11:39 a.m. Check back for updates] The latest TNInvestco postings indicate that Fran Marcum, wife of Dan Marcum, the founding chairman of Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, has applied for TNInvestco certification for NEST-TN, LLC. Dan Marcum told VNC this morning the acronym stands for 'networking, entrepreneurs, Seed capital and technology'. Both Marcums are in the venture. Both Marcums are also principals in their longstanding Tullahoma-based Marcum Capital, which invests in financial companies, technology and real estate. Also applying: S. Talmadge Singer (at left) registered for Tennessee Clean Energy Technology Fund, LP. Singer is also shown on the website of St. Louis-based Advantage Capital as senior associate in the clean-energy practice. Earlier, Talmadge and Advantage filed a TNInvestco app for Delta Capital Advantage Tennessee, giving them at least two shots at one of six certificates that'll be awarded by Nov. 1. Search TNInvestco blogposts here and VNC coverage here. Confirmed applicants appear on the State site first.

NV Chamber CEO's tough choices

In VNC's story on CEO Ralph Schulz and the Nashville Chamber, it's clear the organization is going to need fresh horses to stay in the race for new and expanding business. Read about it here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

VU grad study under microscope

Vanderbilt University's Jim Patterson reports online about an indepth study of graduate studies at VU, raising questions regarding critical mass, resources and recognition. We'll follow this story.

VU scientists see 400 universes

A team of scientists at Vanderbilt University is contributing about 400 views of the Universe to an international project that is mapping the Universe, by measuring the spectra of light from 1.4 million galaxies and 160,000 quasar, work that can trace the evolution of the Universe back 6.5 billion years. VU's release is here.

[Updated] TNInvestco tally rises

[Updated 5:24 p.m.] With the TNInvestco deadline looming at close of business today, the tally of TNInvestco applicants has risen to an even 20, posted on the state's TNInvestco site. Latest additions include: Memphis Biomed Ventures Tennessee I, LLC (Gary Stephenson); Morgan Keegan Principal Investing Group, LLC (Susannah O'Sullivan); XMi High Growth Development Fund, LLC (Jim Phillips); Martin Investco, LLC (Charles Martin); Tri-Star Technology Fund, LLC (Christopher Rand); and, Solidus-TNInvestco, LLC (Townes Duncan). The full list, which may be further updated, is here. VNC has confirmed Christopher Rand is the same person who is a key executive in Vanderbilt University's technology-transfer initiative. He told VNC this afternoon he is joined in the prospective venture by VUMC Vice Chancellor-Health Affairs Emeritus Harry Jacsobson, and by fellow VU life-sciences tech-transfer executive Brian Laden. Rand said none of the three will be affiliated with VU, if their TNInvestco proposal is accepted.

FedEx international chief

FedEx Trade Networks, the FedEx Corp. subsidiary that drives its international ocean and air freight forwarding biz, today announced the appointment of Fred Schardt (left) as president and CEO. Schardt had served the past year or so as EVP-COO to his predecessor, Ed Clark, who retired, effective yesterday. Before joining FedEx Trade in 2008, Schardt spent nearly 30 years with Fritz Companies/UPS Supply Chain Solutions, a sub of UPS, which had acquired Fritz in 2001. Schardt recently blogged about the economy and the growth of FedEx international business.