Monday, November 30, 2009

PureSafety's eye on the prize

'Not sure they should allow Ironman tri-athletes in startups. Now, PureSafety CEO Bill Grana's got a list of 350 acquisition targets, and he sounds confident. Here's the story.

Brainwave opens Game category

Brainwave Studios may be launching wih FranktownRocks.com, but it could be the first of a series of products that will breathe new life into the smattering of gamer-driven cyberproducts in Middle Tennessee -- if they succeed in raising $3MM. The story's here.

Bondware buys content

Bondware Inc., the 11-year-old enterprise cultivated by CEO Tim Choate, has started buying content from other 3-D/2-D content creators, to accelerate growth and improve quality control of products in its proprietary Renderosity marketplace. The story's here.

Hapner to Vision Security

Bill Hapner (left), who'd led sales for Smartvue Corporation here, has established a Nashville presence for Birmingham-based Vision Security, as director-sales. Hapner was also once president of Beacon Technologies in Nashville.

Transcard payment solution

Chattanooga-based Transcard announced a new payment technology it's developing with the University of Pittsburgh for use in paying participants in clinical studies. Release is here.

Updated 3:23 p.m. NV Medical Trade Center unveiling

[Updated] Market Center Management Co. CEO Bill Winsor (left)told reporters a few minutes ago he believes lenders will be highly receptive to financing the planned Nashville Medical Trade Center. Owners and allies of the proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center gathered here today, announcing details of plans to locate the Center in Metro's existing Convention Center, after construction that will expand the facility to 2MM sq. ft. See our related story and check back for updates.

Noog's GoogleEarth 3D effort

A SmartFurniture creative director is leading the effort to elevate Chattanooga to 3D status on GoogleEarth, with support of Google. The TFP reports.

Research campus hotel

Cherokee Farm, the 188-acre University of Tennessee research and development campus, may get a hotel and conference center. The KNS reports.

EPB net funding

A federal grant should accelerate the buildout of Chattanooga EPB's fiber-optic network. The TFP reports.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

TN Maglev allies need $3.5MM

Chattanooga and its Georgia allies for development of a maglev train connecting Choo-Chootown with Atlanta need $3.5MM before they can deposit a federal grant and complete an environmental assessment. The TFP has it. Post on possible Nashville link, earlier this year.

TN education push

State Sen. Andy Berke (D-10) puts an oar in on Gov. Bredesen's push to shift postsecondary budgeting emphasis from measuring students enrolled, to students graduated. The TFP has it.

TN's AgBio leverage

Peter Nelson (left) of Memphis BioWorks Foundation's AgBioworks project touts the leverage inherent in AgBio as he world turns to new sources of energy and food production. The CA has it.

UT aims for research hub status

The University of Tennessee's new Engineering building is further evidence, says the school's dean, of the University's progress toward becoming the state's research hub. Column in the KNS.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NV Med Trade Center debut set

As previously reported by VNC, the Nashville Medical Trade Center's location and some details on features and timeline are to be unveiled during a media teleconference, Monday, Nov. 30, at 3 p.m. Read background on the Trade Center here.

TVA $40MM biz retention fund

To help existing business lower energy outlays, the TVA has created a $40MM fund to help reduce energy costs for businesses that might otherwise relocate or close. The TFP reports it here.

Extreme Bootstrapping 'Food Equity'

The Mercury News reports on how tight money and easy access to willing talent have fueled the 'extreme bootstrapping' trend.

ORNL small-biz contracts

Small businesses got nearly $780MM in contracts from Oak Ridge NL during FY09, the KNS reports.

American Bicycle unveils new model

American Bicycle Group in Ooltewah has unveiled its new carbon-frame bike to great acclaim. The TFP reports.

More ORHS Kudos

Now, the oft-celebrated students of Oak Ridge High School have won a $10K Lemelson grant and are developing a clever water-purification technique, with the aid of engineer-mentors. The KNS reports.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tim McGraw: Wounded entrepreneur


Country stars, as well as Rappers, have histories they carry with them into the big-time business of entertainment: Men's Journal on Tim McGraw.

WealthTrust in WSJ

The WSJ recently turned its gaze toward wealth aggregators, and spied Nashville-based WealthTrust, among others.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

UT's Fox on corporate tax-shifting

University of Tennessee economist Bill Fox has reported the state may be losing tax revenue it is due, because of inappropriate shifting of corporate profits to tax-haven states like Delaware. Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr reportedly told The Tennessean he's concerned broad changes in state laws could scare-off industry prospects and jobs, but that the issues raised can be addressed in targeted ways. The Fox report was commissioned by State Comptroller Justin Wilson.

Bredesen likes dorm idea

During a visit to Chattanooga, Gov. Phil Bredesen indicated receptivity for the idea of resident halls on the campuses of two-year campuses. The TFP reports.

Nashville biz online directory

The Tennessean has launched its online FindItNow business directory and ratings service.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ORNL shines in WSJ today

Today's Wall Street Journal report on the national labs certainly burnishes the reputation of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a major recipient of a tide of Stimulus funding for research. Meanwhile, the KNS reports on the impending opening of Y-12's new U-235 storage facility.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kisber, Farr comment on TNInvestco evolution

At 5:22 p.m. today, VNC received the following statement from ECD and Revenue Commissioners Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr regarding the status of TNInvestco: "In our November 5, 2009 announcement of the finalists for the TNInvestco program, we publicly stated our intention to seek two additional allocations of tax credits from the Tennessee General Assembly totaling $40 million dollars. Our goal is to award allocations to the Tennessee Angel Fund and Solidus-TNInvestco, LLC, which were both selected as alternate funds. Subsequently, we've been approached about our support for an additional allocation over and above the $40 million we intend to seek. Our position is that while we believe an expansion of the program beyond our request has merit, any additional allocation over and above our request would need to be initiated by members of the General Assembly." Our original story earlier this afternoon.

Innova nails TNInvestco goal

Innova Fund II may be the first TNInvestco company to plant its flag in the insurance industry. VNC reported today that there may eventually be 10 winners, rather than six, and the capital pool could rise to $200MM. Now, Innova's Ken Woody has confirmed that his fund has "successfully closed on a commitment for all of our $20MM allotment of tax credits. Four Bridges assisted us in that transaction," Woody told VNC.

Metro in hedge funds

Metro Nashville Chief Investment Officer Fadi Bousrama told VNC Friday that the investment committee of the Metro employee benefit system agreed Nov. 19 to approve investing up to 10 percent of fund assets in hedge funds. An RFP will be out eventually for a hedge-fund advisor, but the RFP's issuance is "not even close." The advisor retained will be asked to create a special-purpose vehicle for Metro and to help develop policy. The SPV will contain "equity long/short hedge funds," said Bousrama. Other tactics may also be employed, subsequently. VNC's original story is here.

Waddey & Patterson adds IP lawyer

Matthew Cox, a UT-minted lawyers and VU-trained engineer, has joined Nashville-based Waddey & Patterson in Nashville. The full story's here.

Ayers Capital formed

Ayers Capital LLC began operating this week as a registered investment advisory company providing services in Tennessee. The company is a JV between an affiliate of Parsons, Tenn.-based Ayers Asset Management Inc. and Chicago-based InterOcean Capital LLC. Principals include executives previously with U.S. Trust, Bank of America, SunTrust and InterOcean Capital.

Escalator Pitch winners

MarksMenu.com, a portal with menus from participating restaurants, won the Memphis Elevator Pitch competition. The CA reports.

UTC-IBM pact revealed

UT Chattanooga and IBM are putting the finishing touches on a partnership to first simulate aircraft turbines and, later, maybe enter into a longer-term partnership to leverage the Simulation Center resources in Chattanooga. The TFP reports.

State's Lumina grant

The TFP reported the State announced it has received a $1.2MM Lumina Foundation grant to help reenroll adult students in college to complete their degrees. Also, the KNS reports State THEC and Education agencies have reportedly given grants to MTSU and UT-Knoxville to increase the numbers of students graduating to become science and math teachers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

TN Valley Summit in Boro

The Tennessee Valley Corridor Fall Summit is underway in Murfreesboro today. U.S. Reps. Bart Gordon (left) and Zach Wamp are among featured speakers, addressing energy and the economy, workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship. The agenda's here.

arGentis licenses UT therapy

Memphis-based arGentis Pharmaceuticals has licensed a therapy for rheumatoid arthritis from the UT Research Foundation. The CA reports.

Campus spin-out SAS braces itself

The New York Times' Sunday story of the top-workplace culture of SAS Institute Inc., based in Cary, N.C., is a good read, with lessons about freeing the workplace from distractions that create a drag on creativity...as well as how success in analytics and predictive modeling breeds new competitors, such as Big Blue. fPrivately owned SAS resulted from university faculty research and development.

Procon in deal with Joe Gibbs

We're not sure we fully understand this, but it seems Knoxville-based Procon Partners has entered into some kind of co-marketing agreement with fabled coach and racing impresario Joe Gibbs. Procon's about mobile-resource management. The Gibbs organization is placing increasing interest, it seems, on leveraging the brand.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bredesen ire works

KNS Columnist and Capitol Hill Reporter Tom Humphrey writes that Gov. Phil Bredesen's blunt criticism of legislators and others who have criticized his initiatives has been pretty effective. Related background.

KNS columnist: More calamity ahead

Knoxville News Sentinel columnist David Moon, president of Moon Capital Management, seems to be saying factors converging for another big financial and economic jolt.

'Core' entrepreneurship

Memphis keeps generating new forms of networking and co-learning: This past week it was 'Core Conversations on Entrepreneurship' and the EscalatorPitch event. One participant said he sees renewed 'vigor and tenacity' in Memphis startups. Here's an earlier story on Memphis' energetic scene.

TN will honor ECD commitments

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber told the Times-News the State will honor all the incentive and support commitments it has previously made to new industry, including Volkwagen and Wacker.

Memphis Business optimism

Respondents to a Commercial Appeal poll seems slightly more optimistic, in the wake of news of GDP gains.

Knoxville Quadriciser device lauded

The KNS reports on the Quadriciser Corp. therapeutic device created by Larry Bohanan. The machine exerciser helps patients regain lost mobility and flexibility, and it's now at the center of a growing business. Bohanan is a former ORNL patents illustrator.

VW history factoid

Chattanoogan.com reports on a Volkswagen executive's remarks before locals, when he explained the role of the British Army in keeping VW alive, after Germany's surrender. The VW factory was to be dismantled, but was saved by demand for vehicles for occupation troops.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot100 includes Dandy Dozen

BusinessTN offers its Hot100 Tennessee up-and-coming companies, and included among them are a dozen or so VNC thought you might want to know more about: Aegis Sciences ... Capital Confirmation ... Cell Journalist ... eMids ... Emma ... Informatics Corp. of America ... Magazines.com ... onFocus ... StudioNow ... VGT ... Human Capital Corp. ... Waddey & Patterson ... Enjoy!

Cogent eyes hospitalist acquisitions

Cogent CEO Gene Fleming (at left) told NashvillePost.com he intends for the company to grow significantly via aquisitions, but no deals announced. VNC's earlier profile of the hospitalist company is here.

'Wacker mag Dich'

We think that means "Wacker loves you," but Wacker Chemie execs' comments about waiting for market conditions for polysilicone to stabilize have sent a few tremors through Chattanoogans, who're hoping the Munich- (or, Munchen-) -based company follows-through on its announced plans for a $1BN factory in Hamilton County, where about 500 would be employed, beginning in 2011. State ECD says not to worry, alles gut. The Times Free Press reports.

ORNL gets more ARRA

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is getting more than $54MM for its new Carbon Fiber Technology Center and for study of ways to make commercial buildings more energy-efficient. The KNS reports.

ORNL team wins app prize

An Oak Ridge NL team of scientists won the ACM Gordon Bell prize for development of a scientific application, in this instance for measurement of certain properties of materials, in the interest of improving magnetic properties. Release here.

HHS questions integrity of former VU researcher

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is being criticized by PETA regarding treatment of animals and a former VUMC researcher, who's now an MBA student in Georgia, is accused of falsifying data in a cancer-related trial. The City Paper reports.

Entrepreneurs meet ORHS students

The KNS reports Oak Ridge High School students and EastTN entrepreneurs had a great time this week, getting to know one anoher.

Incentive for McKesson

The Memphis-Shelby County IDB has voted approval of a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) incentive to McKesson Corp., making the action the first time the incentive has been used in an effort to retain existing jobs. The future of the company's presence will remains uncertain, some months. The CA reports. The IDB also voted incentives for American Esoteric Laboratories.

CA's recap of TNInvestco

The Commercial Appeal this morning recaps the rationale and requirements of TNInvestco, citing importance of Innova Memphis having won a capital allocation, and the hoped-for impact of that on Memphis-area startups.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

TNInvestco, TTDC budget prospects

This week, Gov. Phil Bredesen, his Cabinet and their staffs are reviewing each agency's budget issues, and face a myriad of challenges amid an economic recovery that promises to drag on for years. During a break in the hearings, the Governor and Economic and Development Commissioner Matt Kisber entertained reporters' questions. We asked for their comments regarding further funding for Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (TTDC) and how the Administration might fare in asking the General Assembly to authorize an additional $40MM in premium-tax credit allocations, to fund two additional TNInvestco proposals that were deemed meritorious in the latest round, but which went unfunded. Kisber said cautiously the climate is "favorable" for authorization of further TNInvestco allocations, (a program which is viewed as producing a net return for the state, economically). Regarding TTDC, Kisber noted that TTDC continues to work to achieve the objectives on which funding has previously been predicated, and must now demonstrate they have achieved enough progress to warrant further funding. TTDC has projected that the $5MM it obtained through a contract with Kisber's ECD will be virtually exhausted by June 30, 2010, and is pressing for what TTDC sometimes refers to as a B-round, given that it feels constrained from seeking funding from the same private-sector and other sponsors who now support TTDC stakeholder groups. Commenting on such requests, generally, Gov. Bredesen indicated there'd be efforts not to "gut" organizations and programs that rely on state funding. Meanwhile, comments by all hands throughout this week's budget hearings suggest that a Damoclean Sword may hover over the General Assembly, when it convenes in about seven weeks.

Genera to get $11MM from state

Genera Energy, the UT Research Foundation startups charged with advancing biofuels in Tennessee, got approval for an $11 MM transfer of funds, which had been sought by Gov. Phil Bredesen. Larisa Brass reports for the KNS.

TNBIO stakeholders unite

Grad-school scientists, future lawyers, engineers and MBA-wielding execs statewide are being invited into a relaunching Tennessee Biotechnology Association Graduate Alliance. Industry executives will convene with TBA-GA members, Dec. 7. The story's here.

TN Green-jobs training grant

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Tennessee more than $765K in ARRA funds for training and information services to help Tennessee workers retrain for Green jobs. DOL release here.

TCRS taps Draper Fisher Jurvetson

TCRS Private Equity Director Lamar Villere is doing business with some VC luminaries. The latest: A $25MM investment commitment from the state's pension fund to Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Menlo Park. Read about it here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

PureSafety adds content director

PureSafety President and CEO Bill Grana announced today the company has added Kevin Eggers, who previously held a similar position with Dealerskins.com, and who retired as a Chief Petty Officer after an enlisted career in the U.S. Navy. PureSafety has recently stressed it'll be expanding through acquisitions, which means an ever-broadening content footprint for Eggers to manage.

FiledBy partners with Scribd

Nashville-based FiledBy, an online directory of authors, writers, illustrators, photographers and other book contributors, said today it's integrating Scribd Reader technology into the online toolset for authors and other creators. This will let registered FiledBy users use Scribd to publish documents on FiledBy and Scribd, simultaneously.

GE hiring engineers by dozens

Louisville's Business Journal reports GE Consumer and Industrial is hiring more than 40 engineers, and searches of job sites indicates many of those are in software fields, as well as industrial.

B'ham's BioCryst tells of $57MM raise

Birmingham-based BioCryst, which has a product targeted H1N1, said yesterday it intends to raise about $57MM through a stock offering. The release is here and a Birmingham Bus. Journal story here.

Waller partner to lead HCA development

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis partner Joe Sowell has been selected to lead corporate development for HCA, according to a Waller release today.

Duncan-Williams expansion

Memphis brokerage Duncan-Williams Inc. announced adding three executives to its private-client wealth management office, release here.

Goldman Sachs aid for Small Business

Goldman Sachs, Warren Buffett, community-college leaders and others announced $300MM in aid for inner-city businesses and workforce development.

More love for Clarksville

This time, it's BusinessWeek, naming Clarksville the best city in Tennessee in which to raise children. Earlier, the city made CNNMoney's list of top 4 places to start a business. Gannett's Leaf Chronicle reports.

ORNL 'world hub"

The KNS' Frank Munger chronicles the rise of Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a world hub for supercomputing, right here. More on Jaguar.

Biz-retention incentives in Memphis

Memphis City Council voted to allow the local industrial development board to use tax incentives to keep, as well as recruit businesses. The CA reports.

Bill Gates: $90MM to Memphis schools

Word is imminent, apparently, that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting $90MM into teacher effectiveness in Memphis schools. The CA reports.

FedEx SenseAware

FedEx unveiled its new SenseAware smart packaging, designed particularly for the life-sciences and other urgent-shipment industries. The CA reports.

Medtronic logistics 'state of art'

Medronic Inc. has opened a 'state-of-the-art' logistics facility in Memphis. The CA reports.

War footing for U.S. Energy

Sen. Lamar Alexander and a Democrat co-sponsor have introduced the Clean Energy Act, calling for creating mini-Manhattan Projects and coming close to likening support for more Nuclear power to surrender to enemies, which are unnnamed. Chattanoogan.com reports.

'Cash for Volts'

Nissan is among the players in the new Electrification Coalition calling for federal subsidies for providing incentives for building the e-car charging infrastructure and purchasing e-cars. Design News reports, as does The Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

nTelagent raise

nTelagent, a revenue-cycle management player, filed with the SEC, reporting it has raised less than a million, according to NashvillePost.com, to cover growth-related expenses, having resorted to equity markets because credit is so tight.

CEO entrepreneurs on N'ville prospects

No one claims to have a crystal ball, but they all think the chances are good Nashville has a bright future -- Bobby Frist, Mike Shmerling, Sid Chambless, Mildred Walters, Jeff Cornwall, Joe Freedman... but, as always, there's value in the details. The details are here.

Capital forum set, Dec. 3

Nashville Technology Council will host a "Capital Formation" roundtable, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009, beginning 5 p.m., in the offices of Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings, LLC, 1600 Division Street, Suite 700. Panelists will be: Vic Gatto, Solidus; Jim Phillips, XMi Capital; Gary Peat, Council Ventures; John Chadwick, Claritas Capital; Chris Sloan, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. Details here.

Repas 'Finagles' way to VC round


Nashville Internet entrepreneur David Repas, who controls a batch of Internet and IT businesses, is preparing Finagle for its VC closeup. Today's story is here.

Entrepreneur Center exec search continues

VNC reports today that the search for a new executive director for the new Nashville Entrepreneur Center continues.

Pace raise was $18MM

The Claritas-backed raise by Pace Payment Systems reported earlier by VNC, was for a total $18MM, according to a story published today by TechJournalSouth.

Pharos acquires RFID provider

Pharos Capital Group LLC of Dallas and Nashville announced Monday its acquisition of Rush Tracking, an RFID, business process and systems integration consultant based near Kansas City, Mo. Read about Pharos' twin-city origins and Partner Jim Phillips, who made the Rush announcement. Nashville-based, Vanderbilt-linked Universal Robotics is also heavily focused on the logistics space. No word, yet, on the outcome of Universal's repored $2MM raise.

Bioenergy Science Center controversy

The KNS provides an update on the UT-ORNL Bioenergy Science Center. The KNS says the Center is due further hearings tomorrow in a legislative fiscal review committee, partly because of mixed signals regarding use of switchgrass as feedstock.

Another idea you wished you'd had

Evernote, 'your ubiquitous online memory forever', has now raised $16MM from the VCs, providing online access anywhere to notes that are indexed and storied for eternity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NV healthcare firm acquired

Gallatin-based Healthcare Performance Partners has been acquired by Dallas-based Broadlane. Release here.

VU tech-transfer earnings

The City Paper or NashvillePost reports on the mission of Vanderbilt University's Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development, which earned $11 MM in licensing revenue in the year ending June 30, 2009. Previous VNC OTTED coverage here.

UT honors entrepreneurs

The University of Tennessee College of Business Administration honored Randy Boyd, founder of Radio Systems as Entrepreneur of the Year, and Michael Strickland, founder of Bandit Lites, as distinguished alum. The KNS reports.

Dollar General on NYSE brag list

Although we hope for everyone's good Dollar General's topmost position in the NYSE's IPO brag list is short-lived -- with the company succeeded there by other IPOs -- it's interesting to see that even NYSE feels the need to tout is prowess in attracting new public companies.

UT EHR software commercialization

University of Tennessee faculty in Nursing and Engineering collaborated to develop and now market to other universities an affordable electronic health record product, called iCare. The KNS reports.

TN economic bright spots

Knoxville Business Journal editor reviews some reasons for optimism in the state's economy, and particularly in East Tennessee.

ORNL Supercomputer rises

The new rankings are out: Jaguar now No. 1 in the world for speed, sister Kraken is No. 3, outpacing Roadrunner at Los Alamos. The KNS reports.

ORNL Michigan ties

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is active within Michigan's University Research Corridor. Crain's has it here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

TNInvestco Tri-Star may have company

Our recent coverage of Tri-Star Technology Fund's tentative strategy (they're waiting on TNInvestco funds to arrive) contained provocative comments about faster routes to new-drug discoveries and other breakthroughs. Today's New York Times reports on parallel efforts at MIT and elsewhere.

48-hour Launch underway

Chattanooga's 48-Launch startup-creation event continues today. Chattanoogan.com.

WKNO Memphis upgrade

New digital-broadcasting technology and new station facilities make WKNO (PBS) a better resource for the Memphis viewing area. The CA reports.

Unemployment to 15%?

Thanks, a lot, CA: The Commercial Appeal introduces us to Phoenix-based Casey Research and their eye-of-the-strom projection of a Dow at 8,000 or lower and unemployment at 15%, amid a recession that'll last several more years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Med Trade Center's public

As we reported yesterday, the Nashville Medical Trade Center is moving along, with management confident they'll get financing, based in part on Dallas-based Crow Holdings' track record. Right now, it seems the Center could be operational at some level ahead of competing facilities in Cleveland and New York City. An interesting angle that's emerged is that of public engagement -- how best to interest, inform and educate the general public about healthcare, medicine and technologies. One idea is that of an interactive museum. What do you think? Here's the article.

Hemlock impact (more)

Great article in today's Gannett Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville about the economic impact and history of Hemlock Semiconductor. Article link here. Cached copy here.

Solar prospect at Clinton

Dubbed "Project Diana" by State economic-development officials, the Clinton, Tenn., area is in a horserace to grab a Solar-industry player, in a deal that could mean 500 jobs. The KNS has it.

Chattanooga ECD tops in Auto

Expansion Solutions magazine says the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce is one of the nation's five best economic-development organizations in the Automotive category. Chattanoogan.com reports. Other agencies among top 5 for Auto are in Miss., Ala, La. and NC. Other categories recognized include Biotech, High Tech, Logistics and others.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nissan-Reliant

Nissan said in a release today, "The Renault-Nissan Alliance today announced that Nissan and Reliant Energy of Houston, Texas, one of the major competitive electricity providers in the nation, have forged an agreement to advance zero-emission mobility in the United States. The announcement helps pave the way for the 2010 introduction of Nissan LEAF, the industry’s first all-electric, zero-emission car designed for the mass market. The company expects to begin sales in late 2010. Reliant is a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG), one of the largest electricity generators in the United States..." The announcement precedes the Leaf's zero-emissions tour.

Antitrust and High Tech

Three Nashville-based attorneys with Bass Berry & Sims sound-off in a recent issue of National Law Journal with notes on what recent federal anti-trust enforcement actions suggest, including heightened scrutiny of dominat firms, M&A in the crosshairs and aggressive action against cartels. The reprint is here. Among firms mentioned are Microsoft, Intel and Yahoo!

Debut Broadcasting losses mount

Nashville-based small-market radio and ad startup Debut Broadcasting reported a 9-month net income loss of nearly $600K, despite chopping operating expenses. VNC's earlier Debut story here.

Nissan impact questioned

In Murfreesboro, Gannett's Daily News Journal reports that a consultant's estimate of jobs and economic benefit flowing from Nissan e-car and battery-making operations in the region was overstated, at least in the view of MTSU Economist David Penn.

Health efficiency index update

The Emdeon-sponsored U.S. Health Efficiency Index -- which today puts at 43% the healthcare sector's efficiency in claims processing and related functions (which Emdeon happens to influence) -- will have a new data-collection center. Release here. The Index was architected by Miriam Paramore, Emdeon's chief for strategy.

Clicker.com debuts

It's likely to accelerate the shift to watching video on computers: Clicker.com debuted yesterday, with a guide to what's online to watch. Debut blog here.

Hemlock groundbreaking

Hemlock Semiconductor broke ground for its new $1 billion-plus facility at Clarksville. Related story here.

Energy ventures HQs in NV

Balfour Beatty Energy Solutions LLC announced the new division has taken-up headquarters in Nashville.

Dollar General IPO

Dollar General announced pricing of shares for its $445MM estimated offering.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Harbert Venture fund at $56MM

TechJournalSouth reports Harbert Venture Fund has recruited about $56MM of its target $150MM raise for its IT- and healthcare-oriented fund. Harbert's mezzanine debt operation is based in Middle Tennessee, while the corporate headquarters is in Birmingham.

Good or bad? NVille 'less busy'


We think we're ecstatic about Orbitz latest release, showing Nashville second only to San Jose as the LEAST BUSY airport in the U.S. over the Thanksgiving break. Cool?!

Well-being Index trembles

Latest figures out from the Gallup-Healthways Monthly U.S. Well-being Report show a slight dip in our overall status, close on the heels of another hiccup in unemployment.

Kville's Smart Grid player

Knoxville-based EnerNex Corp. has a key contractual role in supporting NIST's work toward protocols for the U.S. Smart Grid. The release is here.

Sharp notes

Valeri Oliver provides a note on Sharp and prospects for Tennessee's Solar industry.

Wright, Medtronic offerings

The Memphis Daily News reports briefly on product launches this week from Medtronic and Wright Medical.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bioworks, Memphis get $30MM tax credit

Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the city of Memphis have gotten a $30MM federal tax credit under the New Markets program, representing strong leverage for community development. MDN reports it.

VW supplier tax break

Gestamp, a major supplier to Volkwagen at Chattanooga, will get a 14-year tax break, according to Chattanoogan.com.

Bredesen's latest Solar pitch

Hundreds of economic-development officials and corporate execs gathered for the Tennessee Solar Symposium in Nashville yesterday. It wasn't a backslapping occasion. Rather, the goal was to learn more about creating wealth and jobs in Solar and other green-energy fields. New grants and tech assistance programs were announced. The story's here.

TNInvestco winners 'on leave' at VU

During a review of the situation, Vanderbilt University has placed two of its former tech-transfer executives on administrative leave, in the wake of the two winning a slot in the TNInvestco competition. Read the story here.

CoreTech drops Lebanon plan

Citing the economy and alluding to frustrations in getting the deal done in Lebanon, CoreTech Industries President Greg Quinn told VNC today the company has dropped plans to put its CoreTech Park there, and is instead looking at other Wilson and Williamson County sites. VNC reported earlier on CoreTech's plans. Quinn said today CoreTech still aims to create the nation's "first green technology R&D business park."

Bioworks CEO on TNInvestco impact

Memphis Bioworks Foundation CEO Steve Bares posted yesterday on the foundation's BioBiz blog his views on how Innova's winning a TNInvestco allocation for investment advances biomed excellence in Memphis.

ORNL climate-change confab

U.S. and China experts are gathering today to discuss responses to climate change at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Larisa Brass reports for the KNS.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NotifyMD sales heavy added

NotifyMD, the healthcare voice-communications provider, announced today the appointment of Ray DeArmitt as EVP-Sales. The release said, in part, "DeArmitt’s previous experience in healthcare includes executive level positions at Allscripts-Misys Healthcare and Emdeon.... DeArmitt earned his bachelor's at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. VNC believes the search was handled by Buffkin Associates.

Avondale scouts PureSafety M&A

PureSafety, the provider of online support for workplace-safety and health education and training, announced it's hired Nashville-based Avondale Partners to shop for acquisition targets.

HealthStream's newest ally

In addition to HealthStream announcements of marketing and service alliances with Quorum Health and DisastersNet, today the company announced it's offering with OnFocus Healthcare a new "HealthStream Improvement Center" resource, to help customers act upon findings of HealthStream surveys and other research. The HealthStream offering builds upon OnFocus' Enterprise Performance Management product.

Nashville's Pitt Hyde?

Over in Memphis, entrepreneur Pitt Hyde (at left) has for decades spurred sales of everything from biotech to batteries. The AutoZone founder and philanthropist helped found MB Venture Partners, Memphis Bioworks and more. For the past few years, there's been a good bit of questioning in Middle Tennessee regarding whence may come comparable leadership in the high-growth, high-tech arenas, apart from healthcare services, where a clutch of Frists have helped spawn so many ventures. Well, one candidate has got to be Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., Vanderbilt's now vice chancellor emeritus for health affairs, an advisor to ICA, a board member at Merck, co-founder of the new Tri-Star TNInvestco fund, and much more. Here's our story covering some of Jacobson's thinking, his entrepreneurial track record and his views on Informatics Corporation of America, ICA, where he's an advisor.

Cumberland Q-rev up 58%

Cumberland Pharmaceuticals today reported quarterly revenue up 58 percent to $13.6 million, and what it says is the strongest balance sheet in the company's history, thanks in large measure to Cumberland's recent IPO. Release is here.

GTx marches on

Memphis-based GTx Inc. marches onward, hoping yet to convince the FDA to approve Acapodene for use in fighting bone fractures in men taking chemo for prostate cancer. MDN reports. It wasn't so long ago, we note, that Nashville-based BioMimetic had to shrug-off an FDA bruise, and continues to move along.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Brookdale offering

Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (NYSE: BKD) announced today that certain funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLCintend to offer in an underwritten offering 11,000,000 shares of the Company's common stock, in keeping with a May shelf registration.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

TNInvestco: VC joins Innova team

Jan Bouten, who, as reported by VNC, joined the Memphis Bioworks Foundation TECWorks management team earlier this year, is now a member of Innova Memphis' new TNInvestco investment team, within Innova Fund II. Innova is a subsidiary of Bioworks. Innova also told Memphis Daily News it has for some time been courting insurance companies for participation in TNInvestco. Innova is the only funded TNInvestco applicant that is also a member of the TNInvestco Consortium, which was created to seek insurecos' participation.

Friday, November 06, 2009

TNInvestco: TN's Hat in the Ring

Capital-short for decades, Tennessee has put its hat in the ring to compete in the New Economy. Within about 120 days of Gov. Phil Bredesen signing the Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act -- introduced by bipartisan legislative sponsors, and creating what we now known as TNInvestco -- state officials have not only crowned six winning firms, tagged two more for possible future funding and drawn a total 25 competitive venture-capital groups into the formal competition...they've also galvanized the venture and entrepreneurial communities of Tennessee, at a time of dire economic and fiscal circumstances. It will be years before we'll know just how sagacious the TNInvestco picks prove to be... but, already certain is the fact that there is a deep reserve of entrepreneurial energy within Tennessee, which, despite the welcomed litany of prior successes, is just beginning to be tapped. The challenge, now, is to ensure these activities benefit the entire state and its people, and set the stage for further innovative steps.

TNInvestco: Chambless speaks for NCN

Although the Tennessee Angel Fund, led by Nashville Capital Network Executive Director Sid Chambless, was named an as-yet unfunded Alernate in yesterday's TNInvestco winners announcement, the TNInvestco commissioners announced they'll be seeking additional funding from the General Assembly, come January, and the $40MM targeted could go to Chambless' and Solidus' groups. Meanwhile, Chambless told VNC yesterday, "We are pleased with the results of TNInvestco. Many of the winners already interface with our angel group so we believe NCN's stable of companies and pipeline of opportunities will have good exposure to the TNInvestco funds. Additionally, we believe the Tennessee Angel Fund is a nice complement to the other TNInvestcos and we are optimistic the additional two allocations will come to fruition." Chambless' 22 NCN board members include TNInvestco winner Council Ventures' Katie Gambill and Solidus' Townes Duncan.

TNInvestco: ConduIT comments

Nashville-based ConduIT Corporation Chairman and Co-Founder Ray Capp, whose StartTN Fund was among the 25 initial TNInvestco applicants, but did not make the finals, told VNC yesterday his company is nonetheless "thrilled" the TNInvestco program exists and believes it'll "lift all entrepreneurial boats for many years to come." ConduIT Co-Founder and COO Mike Hassell agreed, saying in part, "We know most of the final grant recipients, and respect them highly. Many other worthy applicants weren’t awarded; the commissioners had a tough task in picking just six or eight. They seem to have succeeded in establishing a diverse portfolio..." TNInvestco winners were announced yesterday.

TNInvestco: Lupton exec speaks

Times Free Press Legislative Reporter Andy Sher reports that Lupton Co. CFO David Belitz said his firm's Chattanooga perch gives Nashville-based XMi High Growth Development Fund a vantage from which to spot not only Chattanooga-area startups, but North Georgia startups willing to relocate to Tennessee. XMi was one of the winners announced yesterday by TNInvestco overseers Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

TNInvestco: Bottorff says partners well-aligned

Speaking briefly with VNC this afternoon, Nashville-based Council & Enhanced Tennessee Fund Co-Founder Denny Bottorff, at left (co-founder also of Council Ventures) expressed confidence the TNInvestco program will, indeed, become a "model" for the nation, because it has extracted strengths from previous models (i.e., especially CAPCOs) and integrated them with novel features. Bottorff commended State officials for their innovativeness and management of the TNInvestco program and the associated competitive process, and said he and his partners with Enhanced felt their firms were from the outset well aligned with the TNInvestco goal of nourishing "transformational companies" that will contribute to the state's economy and to the well-being of Tennesseans. He added that while Council and Enhanced routinely work with companies and partners nationwide, the TNInvestco program will mean greater focus on Tennessee-headquartered companies. He said he and Katie Gambill will lead the new entity.

TNInvestco: Tri-Star discusses targets

Tri-Star Technology Fund co-Founder Christopher Rand (left) told VNC this afternoon the fund will "target investments in health care, broadly defined to include: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, personalized medicine, medical devices, health care IT and health care services." Rand, who is in the venture with Brian Laden and Harry Jacobson, M.D., added, "Tri-Star Technology Ventures plans to concentrate primarily on founding and investing in companies emerging from America’s top research institutions, with a focus on Tennessee’s great research institutions. All three partners...believe that there is a significant amount of promising research that isn’t currently tapped into by most VCs."

[Updated] TNInvestco: Innova will employ its model

[Updated] Innova Memphis President Ken Woody and parentco Memphis Bioworks Foundation President Steve Bares make clear in a release this afternoon -- issued, we understand, after a celebratory lunch at Innova HQ in Memphis -- they're ready to make investments and mentor entrepreneurs through Innova Fund II. The pair note in their release, "Since Innova was first funded under the MemphisED Initiative of Memphis Fast Forward, the company has screened more than 200 potential business investments, and has made seven promising investments in the Memphis area. These investments have also attracted an additional $6 million in follow-on investment. The companies range from Biotech and Medical Device companies to Technology and Tech Service companies. All are performing well and ahead of expectations..." 3:07 p.m. Update: Steve Bares added this afternoon, "Memphis Bioworks Foundation is honored to have been selected by the State. The designation for INNOVA is confirmation of the impact that the Memphis Bioworks Foundation has made on the region in leading the transformation into an international center-of-excellence for bioscience companies. We believe INNOVA was selected for its expertise, track record of success and focus on early stage mentorship and investing. I have full confidence that under the leadership of Ken Woody, INNOVA will deliver upon the promise of TNInvestco’s goal of economic development and job creation in Tennessee."

TNInvestco: Satz says TNCV underway

He's still settling on where to office, but Eric Satz of Tennessee Community Ventures Fund told VNC this afternoon his group has already met with some entrepreneurs and while it's too early to say whether they invest in those firms, "they're all very promising." Satz said soon's he catches his breath, TNCV will sit down with other TNInvestco winners and compare notes about approaching "potential insurance-company partners." Satz noted that apart from the healthcare sector, there is no single industry sector in Tennessee large enough to warrant a VC's "pure focus." Instead, he said, TNCV's stategy will be more "generalist," looking at opportunities across industries and sectors.

TNInvestco: Solidus ready to he'p

Solidus TNInvestco LLC didn't get a $20MM allocation of tax credits to lure investors under the TNInvestco program announced this morning; but -- looking ahead to partnering with the firms that did get allocations, and possibly looking toward a second TNInvestco round -- Solidus Partner Vic Gatto told VNC this afternoon, "As I have said from the beginning of TNInvestco, it is a great program for our state. Obviously Townes and I are both disappointed, but we wish the six winners luck and hope to work with them as they invest the capital. If there is another round of tax credits, we would certainly be interested in participating."

TNInvestco: line up, entrepreneurs

Newly minted, Nashville-based TNInvestco certified VC Limestone Fund LLC issued a release soon after the State's announcement this morning of TNInvestco companies that'll share $200MM in tax credit allocations, explaining that Limestone will focus on life sciences and consumer-technology applications. That's Limestone partner Mountain Group Capital's co-founder, Joe Cook Jr., at left.

TNInvestco winners: Very interesting

One thing we know is that as a result of Tri-Star getting one of today's announced TNInvestco allocations, there are two jobs open in technology transfer at Vanderbilt University. OTTD chief Chris McKinney just told us he'll be filling those jobs, the incumbents of which are not getting into venture capital. VUMC Vice Chancellor-Emeritus Harry Jacobson is also with Tri-Star, and has indicated he'll sever formal ties with VU. One surprising, but logical announcement: Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber said they are game to reapproach the General Assembly for another $40MM in allocation authority, which would probably go toward two alternates (entities linked to Solidus and Nashville Capital Network). The field of winners seemed to give a real nod to entrepreneurs of the Mike Shmerling and Joe Cook(s) variety. In fact, asked about it by VNC, Commissioner Farr said that, indeed, actual operating, as well as investment experience was a weighty element. We have the full story from this morning's press briefing, as well as profiles on all 10 finalists, right here.

Peabody's Guthrie: 'Schools deceive'

Peabody Prof. Jim Guthrie (left) and Research Associate Arthur Peng, colleagues at Vanderbilt University's Peabody Center for Education Policy at Peabody College of Education and Human Development, say public school districts 'always have money to spend', and are essentially misleading the public about the 'funding crisis'. Here's the article.

C3 adds Estrin

Brentwood-based C3 Consulting LLC, the Nashville-based IT consulting and services firm, announced that Vicki Estrin has joined the firm as a "healthcare managing consultant," reporting to healthcare practice leader Helen Lane. During more than five years as a program manager at the VU Center for Better Health, Estrin was deeply involved in the Memphis-centered MidSouth eHealth Alliance project launched with Gov. Phil Bredesen and allies. In her VU role, Estrin worked closely with health IT and informatics influentials Bill Stead, M.D., and Mark Frisse, among others. Earlier in her career, Estrin worked for Healthcare Management Directions (once known as the "Smart Hospital Company") and Quorum Health Resources, among others.

Developer seeks PE investors

CBL & Associates, the Chattanooga-based shopping-center developer, says it's looking for private-equity investors and JV partners for new projects. The TFP reports.

Green meetings in TN

Over at Bizplanet, Larisa Brass comments on green- and clean-oriented meetings next week in East Tennessee, including some attended by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

TN R&D alliance

Grants attract proposals like bees to honey, and so it is with the latest round of U.S. EPSCoR funding for improving R&D infrastructure in laggard states, including Tennessee. There's $20MM at stake, and VNC reports on new collaborative efforts to win that money, on the parts of Tennessee universities, ORNL, companies and others. We note, too, the Tennessean's story this morning about some Tennessee legislators' resenting what they see as a changeup in the state's plans for its highly touted biofuels project, saying they were misled about the use of native switchgrass in the project. The KNS reports on the legislative pushback, also.

Luminetx honored by trade group

Luminetx, the VeinViewer folks, will be honored in Memphis, Nov. 13, by the local chamber's International Business Council. The CA reports.

Green-job earnings may disappoint

The KNS reports on efforts to retrain laid-off workers for Green jobs, dealing with hazardous waste, etc., but notes that wages are often much lower than applicants previously enjoyed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

TNInvestco finalists tomorrow!

State Commissioners Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr (ECD and Revenue, respectively) will announced six TNInvestco finalists and two alternates tomorrow morning, during a 10 a.m. press conference at Legislative Plaza. Release is here.

Bredesen budget devastation

While Gov. Phil Bredesen (left) has told agencies to brace for up to 9 percent cuts in their '11 budgets, on the heels of sharp cuts in the current year, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Mike turner says the budget for 2010-11 is going to be "devastating." Among other things, the long-threatened State layoffs now seem inevitable. The AP story is in the Washington Post.

UMemphis tech-transfer accelerates

At the University of Memphis, FedEx Institute of Technology Executive Director Shaye Mandle says tech transfer and commercialization are on the verge of 'exploding', after years of relative inattention. The Memphis Daily News reports.

TN VC in silicon-production

Knoxville-based Innovation Valley Partners, an affiliate of Battelle, has invested with Battelle and others in Ampulse, a Golden, Colo.-based provider of new technologies for silicon production. PV-tech.org reports it.

Oak Ridge HS again in Siemens spotlight

Once again, a team of students from Oak Ridge HS is advancing to the regional contest of the Siemens Math, Science and Technology scholarship competition. ORHS is, thus far, the only high school in the state to field teams in Siemens' annual trial. The KNS reports.

TN Solar push faces 'glut'

Despite optimism and enthusiasm for Tennessee's multifront renewable-energy pushes, a worldwide glut in solar-cell production could blunt the fledgling industry's momentum in the Volunteer State. Business Tennessee reports.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Warren 'CFO of Year'

Denise Wilder Warren, the SVP-CFO of Capella Healthcare Inc., was recently honored as Chief Financial Officer of the Year, through a competition sponsored by VACO and conducted by Nashville Business Journal. Warren has previously been with Avondale Partners, Merrill Lynch, Gaylord Entertainment, Ernst & Young, E.F. Hutton, Ford Capital, LTD and CS First Boston. She earned her MBA at Harvard University and her bachelor's in economics at Southern Methodist University. The other categories and nominees honored Oct. 30 are listed here.

VW-in-TN documentary

A Berlin, Germany-based crew is preparing to produce a documentary on Volkwagen's presence in Chattanooga's Enterprise South manufacturing facility. Chattanoogan.com.

GTx target after FDA blow

Memphis-based GTx may be an acquisition target, in the wake of an FDA adverse ruling on a clinical trial that sent its stock reeling. The CA reports. A fuller story also appears in today's Memphis Daily News. The situation vividly illustrates the type risks many Tennessee VCs say they can live without. MB Venture Partners exited the stock at its IPO in 2006.

SWOT for entrepreneurs

Chattanooga columnist John Riddell writes of the importance of entrepreneurs undertaking a strengths and weaknesses assessment. The TFP has it.

TN slip in Site ranking

Tennessee slipped from 2nd to 5th in the latest Site Selection business-climate ranking, which the KNS reports.

KUB gets 'smarter', slowly

Larissa Brass reports Knoxville's KUB utility is moving, but slowly toward the 'smart grid'.

Innophos earnings drop

The bottom fell out for Innophos Holdings, which has a manufacturing plant in Nashville. Here's the phosphate-product producer's financial release.

Monday, November 02, 2009

TN manufacturing decay

Manufacturers News Inc. reported today that Tennessee's manufacturing jobs fell 12.6 percent in the past 24 months, and 26.4 percent since 2001. Release here.

New HCA chairman

Pretty much as anticipated, HCA announced today Richard Bracken will assume the additional title of chairman of the HCA board, succeeding Jack Bovender, who's retiring, with both actions effective, Dec. 15, 2009.

More renewable-energy benefit

A study by the University of Tennessee's Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group says there are "significant market opportunities" for agriculture, if Congress enacts a national renewable energy standard (RES) policy. Standards would increase the share of electricity generated by renewable-resource means, and produce new jobs and wealth, directly and indirectly. The release is here.

U.Memphis pushing research

The CA reports today on the University of Memphis' efforts to achieve parity with UT, Vanderbilt and other research institutions. The story's here. Apart from competing for rankings, Memphis may also be concerned that if the governor follows-through on efforts to focus on a single state university as a research hub -- probably UT -- UM could suffer by comparison.

TN higher-ed reform debate

The KNS reports that, with another round of state budgeting just ahead, the debate about combining postsecondary governance institutions in the state is moving along, with more discussion about quality of education, as well as about operations, throughput of students, etc.

Vaco among outsourcers riding tide

Nashville-based Vaco is a case-in-point in this CA article on the rising interest in oursourcing professional services, particularly finance.

Autos boom in mid-South

Automobile manufacturing is growing a bigger footprint in Tennessee and the surrounding region. The TFP reports on the emerging corridor.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Memphis innovation events

November's big in Memphis for Barcamp, Escalator Pitch, and other events targeting entrepreneurs. Read today's CA story. And, here's our earlier roundup on the Memphis innovation scene.

'Green' permeating UT

Larisa Brass of the KNS reports on how sustainability is permeating the University of Tennessee's courses, operations and more, partly in recognition of the need to compete on the basis of greenness. Accompanying KNS story here.