Sunday, February 28, 2010

Naxos may prove Classic iMusic venture

Classical-music empresario Jim Selby (left) explains how knowing who is your customer, adopting download sales (now more than 50 percent of the label's sales revenue), leveraging social media where it works and having a modest "Blue Collar" cost structure (Classical artists were never living in 'Rock Star' economy) from the outset has kept Naxos of America in the driver's seat. It's a great story by Wendy Lee in today's Tennessean (goes behind TSN cost wall, pretty quickly)

Foreign Nationals at Oak Ridge

More than half Oak Ridge National Laboratory's scientific and technical staff are thought to be foreign nationals. That and visiting foreign scientists complicate life for both ORNL security enforcers and for the guestworkers, themselves. Frank Munger offers a rare glimpse into the life on both sides of the security redline at one of America's most important institutions. The KNS has it. An accompanying story discusses chemist Safa-Sefat's success in overcoming ORNL hurdles for foreigners.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

UT Tech Transfer: Advanced Plasma

Although Knoxville-based Atmospheric Glow went bankrupt, the IP developed at and owned by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation lives on in Advanced Plasma Products, a subsidiary of Applied Science Products (formerly, Flight Safety Technologies), which relocated from Connecticut to Knoxville in 2009. APP's plasma technology kills airborn microbes that are sucked into a filter. The KNS has the story. Geoff Robson of the Center for Entrepreneurial Growth (CEG), which has been helping bake the APP bizplan and capraise, did a nice job stating the case for APP in a profile on the CEG's startup-oriented Out of the Garage site. Geoff is a former CFO with an Emerson Electric division and manages the formal CEG program on the UT-Knoxville campus. The CEG is a business-counseling and incubator programwithin Tech2020, sponsored in part by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Claris Networks views landscape

Knoxville-based Claris Networks CEO Larry Bodie discusses outsourcing, virtualization, The Cloud and more. The KNS has it. Claris blogger Dan Thompson does a good job on his blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

TNInvestco records decision deferred

Davidson County Chancery Court Chancellor Russell Perkins will not issue his opinion in the lawsuit initiated by VC Larry Coleman versus State officials today; rather, the ruling is now anticipated as early as Monday afternoon, March 1, according to Chancery staff. As reported earlier by VNC, Coleman sued Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and Economic and Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, in their official capacities, seeking public-records access to certain TNInvestco competition documentation the commissioners have thus far held is confidential, a judgment they say they have made within the bounds of State statutes and rules governing handling of certain tax, tax administration, proprietary corporate information and economic-development competitive information. Our earlier post here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lipscomb Medical Center gambit

Lipscomb University proved fleet afoot in announcing its planned National Center for Healthcare Education and Innovation, at the new Nashville Medical Trade Center. That had to have startled more than one player here, locally. Lipscomb's release and video are here. That's Dallas-based Market Center Management Co. CEO Bill Winsor, at far left.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nashville CEOs, VCs comment on venture climate

Joe Cook Jr. of Mountain Capital Group, Limestone Fund (a TNInvestco), Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and other ventures; plus, Sam Lynch, CEO of BioMimetic Therapeutics, comment on the Nashville venture landscape in two stories today. Cook is here and Lynch is here.

Newsbits, Feb. 24, 2010

The founders of the TriStar TNInvestco hit the speakers circuit...Mark Montgomery is entrepreneur in residence, e-Health, Volkswagen and other news posted here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

HealthStream financials

This afternoon, HealthStream (NASDAQ:HSTM) announced quarterly and year-end financial results. Annual results include an 11 percent year-to-year increase in revenue, to $57.4MM; a 106 percent increase in operating income, to $5.1MM; and, adjusted EBITDA of $10.9MM, up 35 percent from $8.1MM. Annual and quarterly results were influenced by the effect of a $9.1MM deferred tax benefit taken by the company, which said it determined in the 4thQ the company's operations had "achieved sustainable profitability." Contract-value and -subscriber trends remained strong on the learning side; sales and marketing expenses rose; and, the HealthStream research unit continues to cope with customer cutbacks in most surveying categories. The company also noted it intends to spend up to $4MM in 2010 for software, hardware, capitalized software development, etc. Earlier today, the company said, the HealthStream board approved a $4MM stock buyback. The company said it has also given more authority to newly promoted SVP Michael Sousa to drive sales in both learning and research sides of the business. Prior to HealthStream's earnings report, HSTM closed regular trading today at $4.12, up nearly 3.8 percent; and, recorded at least one transaction at $4.30, after hours this evening. HealthStream CEO Bobby Frist is due to address analysts at 8 a.m. CT, Tuesday, Feb. 24.

TNInvestco documents decision won't come today

The much-anticipated ruling on Larry Coleman's petition in Chancery Court, through which he seeks access to TNInvestco documents, will come by Friday afternoon, but not today, according to a member of the staff of Chancellor Russell Perkins, in a brief interview with VNC today.

Belmont reports 54 startups underway

Belmont University Professor Jeff Cornwall (left) says Belmont University students have 54 start-ups underway this year, compared with roughly 18 average per year, previously. He sees it as a sign students are adjusting well to the Great Recession. Cornwall calls for cutting taxes to spur this generation further.

Bronson Ingram legacies

According to an SEC filing, the QTIP Marital Trust under E. Bronson Ingram Trust disposed of 244,814 shares of Ingram Micro Inc. at about $18, producing $4.8MM for the QTIP beneficiary, presumably Martha Ingram, chairman of both Ingram Industries and the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust. One online dictionary describes common reasons for creating a qualified terminable interest property trust (QTIP). Thanks to another Ingram legacy, Vanderbilt University recently announced the latest recipients of the Bronson Ingram Scholarship, which has produced dozens of young leaders. Bronson Ingram died in 1995 and was chairman of the Board of Trust. He has left millions to Vanderbilt through a charitable trust. Martha Ingram and Ingram children remain broadly active in civic life and charitable giving. Martha Ingram was the chief benefactor advocating creation of the now-renowned Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and earlier did much the same for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Monday, February 22, 2010

TTDC seeks State funding commitment

Tennessee Technology Development Corp. President-CEO Eric Cromwell said last week that TTDC, which was revived by the State's $5 million infusion in 2008, will ask that the $5 million investment in tech-driven economic development be made a recurring annual item, rather than a one-time grant. TTDC was formed in 1998. Cromwell told VNC Thursday that he believes TTDC has "passed the tipping point" in its work to strengthen the state's capital formation, strategic research commercialization and public-engagement objectives, and needs sustained funding to move beyond "demonstration project" status. He said he believes his recent annual report to the legislature and forthcoming budget hearings will make clear that TTDC and its stakeholders are on the right "trajectory," but need a few more years to start contributing to creation of knowledge-driven jobs, although TTDC, he said, contributed to the crafting of the TNInvestco program and to the mobilizing of TNInvestco applicants and entrepreneurs. He said a remaining key agenda item is the acceleration of an enterprise and entrepreneurship network, which TTDC has proposed. To help get its message across, TTDC will conduct TTDC Innovation Day, March 2, in Legislative Plaza. TTDC's annual report is here.

Simplex hires CIO

Venture-backed Simplex Healthcare in Brentwood has hired former AIM Healthcare exec Richard Fuqua as its new chief information officer. Bizjournals have it here.

TNInvestco update, Feb. 22, 2010

A proposal to allow the State to recapture tax credits it allocates to TNInvestco funds that don't perform creates risk for the program that could kill, say some observers. With controversy in the air, a ruling from Chancery Court here due out tomorrow, and VCs jockeying for a share of a proposed bigger TNInvestco pie... this week could spell the fate of the widely praised capital formation program. The story's here.

Former Passport exec in Parental Health startup

Scotte Hudsmith, 45, is readying his Parental Health startup for its closeup look from angels and VCs. The former Passport and LBMC exec believes his venture can make a difference in healthcare quality. The story's here.

Owen EMBA protects pricepoint

Owen Executive Programs chief Tami Fassinger tells VNC how the graduate school of management is helping executives cope with the Great Recession and keeping its tuition for the 2-year program beneath that magic $100K mark. The story's here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nexus Group nets SAS70

Nashville-based The Nexus Group (formerly ISDN Net) announced today it has obtained SAS 70 Type II certification for its data facility here. Gray CPA Solutions PLLC of Murfreesboro performed the audit needed to verify that Nexus meets or exceeds security and management-process requirements to satisfy the AICPA-developed statement of auditing standards. Among Nexus peers in the Nashville area, Peak10 and SunGard say they also maintain SAS 70 Type II compliance.

Green Business Summit, April 13-14

Lipscomb University's Institute for Sustainable Practice is holding its annual Green Business and Living Summit & Expo, April 13-14. Details here. Lipscomb says, "The purpose of this event is to promote Tennessee as the international destination for economic growth in green practices, businesses, products, services, tourism and lifestyles."

VandyLAN gaming tourney today

The VandyLAN 2010 gaming tournament for faculty and students is today at the VU School of Engineering. Details here.

ECD aids Internet2 net launching in Memphis

With a $3MM grant from TN Economic and Community Development, the Memphis Coalition for Advanced Networking aims to connect not just East and West Tennessee, but also to link TN institutions with research institutions, elsewhere. In addition to St. Jude, Memphis Bioworks and others regional partners, XO, Cisco and TVA are involved. The Memphis Daily News has it.

Frierson among honorees

The ubiquitous Jim Frierson of Chattanooga, executive director of the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute, is among Chattanooga Engineers Club honorees this year, have received the People to People Award. Frierson, among other things, is also a member of the board of directors of the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation. The TFP has it. Here's our profile on Frierson from 2006.

Memphis entrepreneurs meetings set

The Society of Entrepreneurs in Memphis has scheduled its March and April 2010 meetings, focusing on financing early-stage businesses and on Music entrepreneurism in Memphis. Details here.

Parrotheads in Nashville

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant chain opens in Nashville in late 2010. Buffett told reporters most of his current Coral Reefer Band members live in the Nashville area. Posted here.

Oak Ridge Energy Corridor

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, Y-12 National Security Complex and the City of Oak Ridge are joining to create the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor, which aims to have a big role in boosting more efficient transportation, including e-cars. The KNS reports.

Decosimo hosts VW biz seminar

Chattanooga-based Decosimo is hosting a series of seminars led by a VW-allied German consultant on doing business with Volkswagen, with an introduction Feb. 24 and the series beginning in March. reports.

TVA imports more Iowa Wind energy

TVA expanded its Wind power-gen relationship with Horizon Wind Energy in Iowa. Story here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newsbits, Feb. 18

There's more today on the TNInvestco website, TTDC's public forum, VU tech transfer, TVA, nRange startup in Memphis, Eric Matthews on innovation leadership and other items. Tune-in at Newsbits here.

'' is prize among Castello trophies

The Castello brothers, natives of Little Italy in New York City, were once professional musicians, so they moved fleetly to buy in 2003... They still can't believe their good fortune, apparently, to have gotten-off so cheap in buying one of the most important brand addresses in the world. The story's here.

Martin Companies applies juice at DisastersNet

It's easy to overinterpret what we hear about new ventures, but, given all the other things going on in Charlie Martin's healthcare and other holdings, it seems that DisastersNet is about to have a lot more wind in its sails. The story includes a new CEO, and it's posted here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Qsource heads TN health IT push

Memphis-based QSource will receive $7.3 million in federal funding to establish a regional extension center in its Nashville office to help health care organizations transition to electronic medical records. The Nashville center will be one of 70 created nationwide through $1 billion in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The state of Tennessee is receiving $11.7 million in Stimulus funding to help health care providers transition to the use of electronic medical records, a transition mandated by the federal government. QSource, which is also Tennessee’s Medicare quality improvement organization, will head up the effort. Memphis Bus. Journal has the story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chancellor will study TNInvestco litigation before ruling

Following about two hours of oral arguments by counsel to the parties this afternoon, Davidson County Chancery Court Chancellor Russell Perkins said he would issue his opinion in the Coleman v. Farr-Kisber TNInvestco public-records access lawsuit in about a week, targeting February 23. Although no new major themes seemed to arise during the hearing and Chancellor Perkins acknowledged the need for expedited handling of access requests, the judge said the weighty issues embedded in the case call for ample consideration. Among other things, points of interrelated state and federal laws and common law were raised. At one point in his limited give and take with lawyers, Chancellor Perkins noted the fact that Attorney General Robert Cooper has weighed-in with an affirmation of the need for State confidentiality for certain TNInvestco information. Such an affirmation is required by law. Franklin-based VC Larry Coleman demands access to TNInvestco documents, arguing that disclosure of scoring forms and other data -- with some sensitive information redacted, as necessary -- would serve to illuminate the process of picking TNInvestco winners sufficiently to determine whether or not the commissioners followed state law in executing the program. Much of the discussion today centered around whether TNInvestco scoring matrices, once redacted, would still be confidential tax documents; and, whether by mentioning their use of the matrices in selecting TNInvestco winners the commissioners had somehow waived any privileges they might enjoy related to non-release of the scoring documents. Today's hearing was in Metro Nashville's historic courthouse (pictured above). Our preliminary report on this, earlier today.

Tennessee nurtures Confluence startup

Economic & Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber tells Larisa Brass of the KNS how and why the State committed incentives to a Solar-sector start-up, Confluence Solar, when the state typically tries to lure more established companies with larger workforces. The KNS has it. Meanwhile, the Confluence sales team is working the field for charter customers for their silicon materials, used in photovoltaics.

Attorney Paul Ney to Waddey firm

Waddey and Patterson, Nashville's largest pure-play IP/patents law firm, today announced the addition of Paul Ney (left), of counsel. Ney was previously Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's director of economic development. Their announcement is here.

Transactions expert hopes 'Perfect Storm' will drive M&A

Trey Crabb of the Nashville office of Portland, Me.-based Stroudwater Associates assays the prospects for a surge in healthcare M&A, joint ventures and affiliations, and tentatively likes what he sees shaping-up. The story's here.

State officials ask Court to toss TNInvestco lawsuit

State Commissioners Reagan Farr and Matt Kisber filed a request with Chancery Court in Nashville Friday, asking Chancellor Russell Perkins to toss a public-records request by VC Larry Coleman. The story's here. There's a hearing on this at Chancery this afternoon, at 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

TCPR weighs-in on TNInvestco

Tennessee Center for Policy Research Interim Executive Director Clint Brewer (left), formerly editor of The City Paper in Nashville and a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, weighed-in Friday on what he characterizes as the State's efforts to maintain "secrecy" around the TNInvestco program, rather than simply protect the confidentiality of corporate and state information the confidentiality of which they consider crucial to state economic development efforts. Last August, Brewer also raised the spectre of inappropriate insurance-industry ties among some TNInvestco legislative sponsors. Full VNC coverage of TNInvestco here.

Hemlock drives new Austin Peay degree

A new associate degree in chemical-engineering technology at Austin Peay State University was spurred by Hemlock Semiconductor's plans for $1.2BN plant nearby. Student interest has been high, in that it'll prepare workers for up to 800 new jobs at Hemlock. The Leaf-Chronicle reports it.

Emdeon's Lazenby says fraud is target

Tennessean reporter Getahn Ward interviewed Emdeon CEO George Lazenby, who says that his company automates claims payments for the majority of payers in the U.S., and that there is $30BN to be saved in the healthcare delivery system by automating transactions in order to reduce fraud. The story's here.

VR pioneer says 'wisdom of crowds' ain't

Jaron Lanier, according to Washington Post book reviewer Ellen Ullman, says the social-media explosion is driven by acceptance of the "winning subculture" (sounds related to lowest-common denominator) model, which he says is dehumanizing, and for much of which he apologizes. The WP is here.

UT endowment clawings its way back

The University of Tennessee endowment is now at about $563MM, after taking a Great Recession hit of more than $209MM in value and now having recovered more than $73MM of that loss. The KNS reports.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Airplay Direct pressing onward

Nashville Business Journal's report on Airplay Direct, which aims to deliver music and promo materials digitally, rather than on CDs, paints a mixed picture of industry uptake, but allows for promise. Airplay is apparently still in the red, as are most startups at this point. Here's our earlier rundown on Airplay, which is led by Robert Weingartz.

Eluminare, Bluegill merge e-resources

Eluminare and Bluegill Creative in Knoxville have merged, blending their Internet, social media and integrated marcom services. The KNS reports.

AmMed Direct COO departs

AmMed Direct LLC COO Tom Milam has, according to an NBJ report today, left the company, following accounting and reimbursement problems. The remaining management team is here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

TNInvestco further filings in Chancery Court

Petitioner Larry Coleman filed further arguments and documents in Chancery Court this afternoon, arguing for release of TNInvestco documents via the Public Records Act. Coleman denies, also, that he denigrated TNInvestco competitors, as was earlier alleged in a court filing by the State, responding to Coleman's original complaint. The updated (7:25 p.m.) story is here. State documents filed Tuesday argued for protecting sensitive administrative, deliberative and competitive information, citing precedents arising from tax and economic-development realms.

Private-company exchanges get scrutiny

VCs looking for greater liquidity for portfolio companies might want to take a closer look at the new private-company exchanges. Nashville comments from Jan Bouten, Rob Ivy, John Chadwick, Jim Phillips. The story's here.

Newsbits: Taxation, VU entrepreneurship and more

In today's roundup, Mike Devlin of Pharos discusses the imminent loss of capital-gains status for carried-interest earnings, Chris McKinney discusses entrepreneurism, a Baker Donelson IP attorney in the spotlight, and

Barron's editor headed to Nashville

Barron's Michael Santoli will be a featured speaker in May, for the inaugural edition of INVEST Tennessee Equity Conference, at Nashville Convention Center. The story's here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zycron promotes Waggoner, Jones

Zycron Inc., the Nashville-based IT staffing firm, has promoted Dennis Waggoner (left) to executive vice president-sales from vp-sales, and promoted Tosha Jones to marketing director, from marcom specialist. Waggoner has been with the firm nearly seven years, and previously worked with Compuware, the Federal Reserve Bank Nashville branch, the U.S. Navy and Systems Programming Consultants, among other IT services firms. He earned his bachelor's in business, with MIS concentration, at Tennessee Tech. Jones was with McNeely Pigott & Fox PR before Zycron, and earned her bachelor's in business at TSU. Zycron's earlier release on Waggoner is here.

Tennesseans run TVA confirmation gauntlet

Three Tennesseans testified yesterday before a Senate confirmations committee exploring their ability to serve on the TVA board of directors. Supporting their nominations, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is quoted as saying there is no institution in our region more important than the TVA. The KNS story is here.

TeamHealth's first report since IPO

TeamHealth Holdings, the hospital-staffing firm in Knoxville, has its first analysts call since its December IPO, this morning at 9 a.m. Central Time. The company reported net rev for 4Q of nearly $350MM, but still lost about $14MM, thanks largely to IPO-related costs. The release is here.

ORNL studies stay rates for ex-U.S. PhDs

Oak Ridge National Lab economist Mike Finn reports that foreign-born Ph.D. students are a bit more likely these days to stay longer in the U.S. after completing their studies here. The KNS' Frank Munger reports it. Finn's report is here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pathfinder: perfect match from VU

At my age, I tend to think of great pairings like Galloway and Stefansic at Pathfinder Therapeutics as more than 'coincidence'. There's multi-disciplined, polite-but-restrained Bob Galloway (at left), blazing a path in science, and often displaying what seems to be, at best, 'uneasiness' with the whole issue of commercialization. Then, there's fellow scientist Jim Stefansic, equally dedicated to expanding knowledge, who added an MBA from Belmont to complement his VU-bred scientific toolset. The future's not entirely clear for Pathfinder, but Stefansic offers a few comments on what it's like from his vantage. The story's here.

German IT firm hits VW-Chattanooga

Wolfsburg-based Honigsberg & Duvel Corp., an IT services firm, has set up a Chattanooga office, looking for Volkswagen and other business. The TFP reports.

INVEST-TN is May 27

The inaugural INVEST Tennessee Equity Conference is May 27 in the Nashville Convention Center, featuring C-level execs of at least a dozen Tennessee-based public companies, presenting to regional and Wall Street investment professionals. Crowe Horwath LLP and Nashville-based Corporate Communications, Inc. are title sponsors. Local CFA societies in Nashville and Memphis are organizing sponsors. Details here.

VU in extraordinary push with Metro Schools

Vanderbilt University, its Peabody College of education and human development and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools announced yesterday free tuition is available for qualified applicants for a new Master's in teaching in urban schools, for those willing to teach at least three years in Metro Schools, to help improve literacy, math and-or science. The VU release is here.

Swafford heads RM Wolff office

Rick Swafford now heads the Nashville-area office of RM Wolff (RodeferMoss/BDO Seidman), which provides forensic and investigative accounting services, litigation support and other services. Release is here.

TN economy awaits 2012

The University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research says it'll be at least two more years of Recession for the Volunteer State, with real progress not til 2012. The report to the Governor is here. Unemployment is likely to stay above 10 percent through most of 2011.

UT Research funding leaps

The University of Tennessee, heir-apparent to a Bredesen Administration push for R&D leadership, says its Office of Research deserves much of the credit for UT being ontrack for a $200MM year. The Beacon's story is here. Architecture, A&S and Engineering are among standout units.

HealthLeaders-Interstudy market intel

HealthLeaders-Interstudy announced its new PatientFinder analytics tools for helping pharma identify market-expansion opportunities. Release is here.

ORNL supercomputing allocated

With 1.6 billion hours of supercomputing time awarded by DOE, and much of it destined to employ Oak Ridge NL's Jaguar supercomputer, scientists are working to set priorities to maximum benefits. The KNS reports.

Martha puts her Stamps on food and life

Yes, count us among he legions of Martha Stamps-watchers, many of whom have been waiting to see where the food/life artist would light, after dissolving her restaurant partnership with Belle Meade Mansion. We don't delve often into non-venture funded small business, but this story's just zesty enough.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Newsbits, Feb. 8

Interesting times: A B-round is underway at CredenceHealth...a maverick Hedge fund operator eyes Tennessee... HMS exec appointment... Debut Broadcasting... Lucius Burch's portfolio firm expands... and news from Bondware, the Chamber, et al, available right here.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pinkston leaves Bredesen for Frist's SCORE

Will Pinkston (left), a Bredesen campaign operative turned chief policy wonk, is leaving the Administration later this month to join former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist's SCORE education-reform campaign organization. Pinkston is credited with much of the work on the General Assembly's just-passed education reform initiative, as well as for shepherding Bredesen's numerous clean-energy and solar initiatives. Earlier in his career, Pinkston worked as a reporter for The Tennessean and The Wall Street Journal, and did a stint with McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations.

Sharp Solar expands Memphis capacity

Sharp Manufacturing Solar Energy Solutions Group has been expanding its Memphis solar-panel production capacity to meeting rising residential and commercial demand, partly driven by Stimulus spending. The MBJ reports.

Gilna heads ORNL BioEnergy Center

Paul Gilna (left), previously associated with other national labs and UC San Diego institutes, will now head the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bioenergy Science Center. The KNS reports.

Early-career awards to ORNL PIs

From an ORNL release, Feb. 4: "Four Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are among the 69 scientists that will receive five-year research grants as part of the Department of Energy's new Early Career Research Program. The $85 million program, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the department's Office of Science, is designed to support exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. ORNL's grants will be at least $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses." Full release with scientists is here.

Foursquare adoption in TN

Foursquare, the location-based app that lets customers gain from frequenting businesses, is being adopted by some businesses in Tennessee. The KNS reports.

ProctorU has online ed wrinkle

Hoover, Ala.-based offering webcam monitoring of students taking online examinations. The BBJ reports.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Billy Orgel: entrepreneur and angel

Another inductee to Memphis' Society of Entrepreneurs: Billy Orgel, founder of Tower Ventures, got in on building cell-phone towers in the early days and is now expanding and investing in young ventures as an angel. The CA reports.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Spheris in bankruptcy and sale

Long-teetering Spheris, the Franklin-based medical-transcription company, today announced it's going the Debtor-in-Possession route, with an offer for the company's assets in-hand from MedQuiest and CBay. An auction will be held to raise the ante. Details are in the company's release.

Lochinvar tilts at Solar

Forty-year old and Lebanon, Tenn.-based Lochinvar Industries, a boiler and water-heater manufacturer, is teaming with Austria's TiSun GmbH, to market solar-heating technology in the U.S., according to TiSUN's release. HT: NashvillePost

edo Interactive in prepaid honors queue

Despite the competition in the sliced-and-diced stored-value card sector, Nashville-based edo Interactive continues to win enough love to find itself a finalist in's annual competition, among consumer-funded card programs.

Kisber, Farr join clean-energy missions

From a TEP release Feb. 2: "The Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP) is leading a team of economic development leaders from across the state to take part in two of the nation's largest renewable energy events this month, beginning this week with the Renewable Energy Technology Conference (RETECH) Feb. 3-5 in Washington, D.C., and followed by the Renewable Energy World Conference Feb. 23-25 in Austin, Texas." The TEP delegation includes, respectively, ECD and Revenue Commissioners Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr.

OR Nursing entrepreneur honored

The CA's series on Memphis entrepreneurs being inducted this spring into the Society of Entrepreneurs begins with a profile of OR Nurses Inc. Co-founder Denise Burnett (CA photo, left), whose trip to Africa years ago led her to switch from journalism to nursing, and later to create a company operating in more than 20 states.

USEC centrifuge work advances

At Oak Ridge, a reported 100 jobs will be saved, thanks to DOE's announcement it will provide $45MM for further USEC Inc. centrifuge testing. The KNS' Frank Munger has it.

Simek: UT braced for budget hit

University of Tennessee Interim President Jan Simek says the university system is prepared for sharp cuts a year from now, when extended Stimulus support ends. The KNS and the TFP have it.

Corker decries lack of Feds' transparency

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Chattanooga, yesterday issued a statement calling for the liabilities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be reflected on Treasury's books, and called for greater understanding and transparency in reforming the two agencies. Earlier this week, Corker challenged proposed prohibition of large commercial banks' conducting “proprietary trading“ for their own portfolios. Contrary to the views of the Obama Administration and former Fed Reserve Chief Paul Volcker, Corker holds that such speculative trading contributed nothing to the banking collapse. WPLN reported it.

Comcast asks price freedom in Chattanooga

Chattanooga says that given tougher competition from EPB and other players in the Chattanooga market, Comcast should be free of pricing restrictions, and has asked Chattanooga to declare de-regulation of pricing. Comcast said that if the city doesn't do that, Comcast will appeal directly to the FCC. has it.

Big River manufactures devices for surgery

Two Memphis entrepreneurs salvaged a failing company, and today Big River Engineering & Manufacturing serves Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, et al. The CA has it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Petra supports Sante acquisition

Nashville-based Petra Capital Partners said today it has invested $5.4MM in Ft. Worth-based Santé Pediatric Services . Petra's investment was in the form of subordinated debt with warrants and preferred equity in support of the acquisition of Santé by Transition Capital Partners and Enhanced Equity Fund. Santé represented Petra's fifth investment in 2009 and seventh investment from its newest fund, Petra Growth Fund II. Of the five investments made by Petra in 2009, two were in healthcare services, two were in technology enabled services, and one was in healthcare IT. Petra said, in part, "We look forward to another active year in 2010 pursuing quality investment opportunities in these same high growth industries... The firm is actively investing its second SBIC fund, Petra Growth Fund II, which has $160 million of available capital to invest. Its previous funds under management total $130 million. Petra provides non-control subordinated debt and/or preferred stock to high growth companies for expansion, acquisition, buyout or recapitalization in partnership with the founding management team. Petra seeks to invest up to $15 million in growth companies that possess a minimum of $10 million in revenue and positive EBITDA at the time of investment. The fund targets business, healthcare, and information technology services companies."

Rockhouse names first clients

Rockhouse Partners, the new interactive agency formed by former Echomusic execs, said in a release today its initial clients include C3 Presents (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Music Festival); Lance Armstrong and the RadioShack Pro Cycling Team, Next BIG Nashville and Tennessee State Fair, and Nashville interactive agency Redpepper. Rockhouse says its target clients are sponsorship brokers, live entertainment properties, brands and their agencies, sports entities, advertising and marketing firms, and media companies. VNC's earlier story on Rockhouse.

Confluence Solar benefits reported

The KNS reports that upgrading electricity infrastructure was the clincher in the State's recent bid to recruit Confluence Solar to Clinton, Tenn.

Inventure Labs in Wind play

Knoxville-based Inventure Laboratories has devised a new way of manufacturing and testing huge bearings for wind-to-energy turbines. The KNS reports.

ORNL budget prospects bright

Oak Ridge is likely to earn $1.6 billion or more in the coming fiscal year, thanks to strong proposals from the Obama Administration. The KNS' Frank Munger reports.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sci-tech consortium forming in Nashville

A Tennessee State University executive confirms that, in line with recently introduced legislation in the General Assembly, TSU will be convening a "Capital City Research Consortium." The story is here.

Healthtech buys Medhost

Healthtech Holdings, parent of Healthcare Management Systems, has acquired MedHost, according to a release today. The acquisition beefs-up HMS' software-development capacity.

Chattanooga agency acquired

Neathawk Dubuque and Packett, a Richmond-based advertising agency with 15 people and offices in Chattanooga, announced it has acquired all assets of ThreeHD, a technology company founded by three Covenant College graduates, who are ThreeHD's only employees. The company specializes in tech, including 3-D rendering. The TFP reports it.

The City: SOB development questions

Nashville Scene's unrivaled cityscape observer Christine Kreyling illuminates five critical questions for Nashvillians, in the wake of the Music City Center decision -- each issue will affect development of the South of Broadway.a

TNInvestco redux

Administration officials, lobbyists and members of the General Assembly are slowly swinging into action to expand and otherwise tweak the State's new capital-formation program. The story's here.

VNC Member RelevantAssets updates on cap raise

VNC Member CRE Technologies, dba RelevantAssets, issued this press release on its new management team, its $400K cap raise and its intense focus on SaaS for commercial real estate execs.