Sunday, January 31, 2010

UT quest for 'Top 25' status

The KNS reports on the likelihood of the University of Tennessee reaching Top 25 national research university status in the next ten years, with President Simek and Chancellor Cheek commenting. Meanwhile, The TFP reports on the big-bucks venture that is UT athletics, where the program is one of the few in the nation that contributes cash to its host school, rather than the other way round.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Biofuels plant jumpstarted at Vonore

The KNS reports today, "Cellulosic ethanol production facility is first of its kind, can convert switchgrass, corncobs A crowd of several hundred, including elected officials, representatives of the University of Tennessee, and executives from Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, braved the cold Friday for the opening of the world's first cellulosic ethanol production facility." The full story's here.

TSN reports Corp-University ties

Today's Tennessean reports on growing research and education ties Universities, corporations and government agencies, in a story spurred partly by a corporate-partnership provision Gov. Phil Bredesen included in his recent education-reform package. The original TSN story's here, and a cached copy's here.

UT-Chattanooga library

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has a new $48MM library, after 20 years of waiting. The TFP reports.

VW-TN worker ranks pass 2K

More than 2,000 workers are now employed by Volkswagen in the Chattanooga area. The TFP reports.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Economic development for Rural execs

Tennessee rural-community leaders in 30 counties will have access to economic-development instruction provided by the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service, thanks to a $30K ECD grant. The release is here.

U.S. growth jumped in 4Q09

Although subject to further adjustment a month from now the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis announced this morning that fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) rose 5.7 percent over 3rd quarter, a sharp increase from the previous month-to-month rise.

$64.3MM IPO for video ringtone player Vringo

TechCrunch reports today on Vringo's $64.3MM IPO plans and anticipated NASADQ listing. Vringo's all about an online Web-based community for finding, creating and sharing ringtones.

IdleAire idled, now stops completely

IdleAire, kept alive by private investors who sought to sell its assets the past two years, announced it's ceasing all operations and laying-off about 315, including 60 in the Knoxville area. The company has operated in up to 34 states, providing truckers creature comforts, including Internet access, at rest stops, allowing them to stop running their engines to keep cabs warm, etc. The KNS reports.

NellOne Therapeutics (more)

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported on NellOne Therapeutics yesterday. Our original story yesterday is here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TNInvestco criticism from Advantage Capital

Scott Zajac, senior managing director, Advantage Capital Partners in St. Louis, was apparently emboldened by Larry Coleman's lawsuit, in which Coleman demands access to information deemed privileged by the State commissioners who chose six TNInvestco winners, in the first batch of new funds in the state's innovative capital-formation program.
Zajac told VNC today that, although he said he is not alleging "illegality" on the part of the commissioners, he thinks the TNInvestco process itself may be have been 'corrupted'.
Here's Zajac in his own words, which he sent us via e-mail after reading about Coleman's litigation in Davidson County's Chancery Court:
"Coleman Swenson is without a doubt one of the most qualified firms in the state and the idea that they were not even in the top ten is absurd and suggests a very flawed or corrupt selection process. Our firm did make a similar FOIA request through counsel for the scoring matrix immediately after the results were announced and the department immediately denied the request and made it clear that they intended to keep the selection scoring matrix secret and away from public view which seems entirely inconsistent with the transparency one would want in a program with over $100 million flowing out of the state coffers.
"I have never met Dr. Coleman but he contacted me late last year about his dismay with the process. He seemed more concerned with the integrity of government and waste of taxpayer money but I was not aware that he was taking legal action. I can't imagine why a state official would not want to have this process be open and transparent. The state should have done the first part of the selection process where they qualified firms under the statute and then let the private market pick the winners and losers based on merit versus political appointees picking based on other factors. If they had taken this path firm's like Dr. Coleman's who already had legitimate commitments from insurance companies would be pumping money into start ups today. Instead the process is bogged down and firms already going back and asking the legislature for even more money targeted at specific VC firms picked by political appointees. Ironically, one of the safeguards for taxpayers in programs like NMTC and CAPCO is the recapture of tax credits for any non-compliance the law. This feature was curiously removed from the original bill proposed in the legislature based on a request from Commissioner Farr and others. In essence, this administration is handing out money to firms they select today and the massive cost does not hit the state until the next governor is in place. If the TNVESTCO firms have not complied with the law there is no ability whatsoever to recapture tax credits. If anything is done in the legislature it should be recapture provisions for non-compliance to protect tax payers and no new earmarks for firms preselected by the administration."
By the way, Coleman Swenson's out of state partner in the TNInvestco competition was Texas Ventures, represented by Scott Crist. Other VNC TNInvestco coverage. - Ed.

DOE signs Nissan LEAF Battery loan agreement

The Department of Energy signed a loan agreement to make $1.4 BN available to Nissan to support manufacture of the LEAF e-car battery at Smyrna, Tenn. Release here. The DOE release said, in part, "The loan will result in the creation of up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity. Modification of the Smyrna manufacturing plant, which will begin later this year, includes a new battery plant and changes in the existing structure for electric-vehicle assembly. When fully operational, the vehicle assembly plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars per year, and the new plant will have an annual capacity of 200,000 batteries."

HMS signs Texas providers

Healthcare Management Systems signed Hamilton Healthcare System for clinical and financial technology. Release here.

NellOne Therapeutics licenses from UT-Battelle

Knoxville-based NellOne Therapeutics has licensed patents covering inventions based on the Nell-1 gene. The IP is driving protein therapy treatment now under development and takes advantage of the gene's cell-signaling pathway, which controls tissue growth and maturation in mammalian organs. It could mean restorative therapies for hearts and other muscles. Our story's here.

Osborn named GM for Medical Trade Center

David Osborn (left), who has been spearheading with Dallas executives the successful campaign for the Nashville Medical Trade Center, has been named general manager, according to a release this morning.

VC demands access to TNInvestco records

Larry Coleman (left) has personally sued in Davidson County Chancery Court, demanding that State ECD and Revenue commissioners Kisber and Farr turn over more information about how they selected the state's TNInvestco capital-fund winners and documenting whether those winners met deadlines, etc., established for the competition. Our story's here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bredesen 'Happy Democrat'

Gov. Phil Bredesen has taken pains to 'shoot in the heart' rumors that he's considering switching parties. Jeff Woods of NashvilleScene reports.

Skoodat advances to pitch

TechJournalSouth talks with Founder-CEO Ken McElrath (at left) about Skoodat game-changing approach to K-12 school data, and the company's forthcoming Southeast Venture Conference pitch. VNC's earlier story on Skoodat is here.

BioImaging is new Memphis anchor

Beyond VeinViewer, Memphis companies and universities are establishing a base of expertise for BioImaging. The MDN reports.

Voices Heard Media beta'd by Republicans

The Republican National Congressional Committee, according to the KNS, will be a beta user of Knoxville-based Voices Heard Media's voter-engagement technology. Voices Heard is also one of four Tennessee companies that is pitching during next week's Southeast Venture Conference.

Manhattan Project site may bypass Oak Ridge

Incredible as it may seem, reports indicate that the National Park Service is considering putting Manhattan Project National Park at Los Alamos, rather than at Oak Ridge NL, even though most Manhattan money went to ORNL and ORNL had nearly 10 times the workforce dedicated to the project than Los Alamos. OakRidgers aren't taking it lying down, as the KNS reports.

Tennessee's Urban-Rural divide

Econometric analyses make clear that the Three Grand Divides are less significant these days that the disparity in growth between Tennessee's 10 metro areas and rural communities. The TFP reports.

E-vehicles venture nets $350MM capital

Israeli company Better Place announced Jan. 24 it has raised a $350MM B-round for its E-vehicle grid, with HSBC leading the round. Selected North American markets will be targeted, after the recharging grid and related services are deployed in Israel and Denmark. The release is here.

Stimulus spurs hiring at ORNL

About 400 persons were hired at Oak Ridge NL last year and 120 already so far this fiscal year, as ARRA Stimulus money continues to pour in. The KNS reports.

Supercomputing hours awarded

DOE has awarded about 1.6 billion supercomputing processor hours to 69 leading-edge projects, for work that'll be done at Argonne in Illinois and Oak Ridge NL in Tennessee. Release here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Emdeon grabs FutureVision

Nashville-based Emdeon announced today it has purchased Salt Lake City-based FutureVision Technologies, a document-conversion and data-management firm. Earlier VNC Emdeon coverage here and here.

Equation multiplies by adding Nashville's HCCR

Well, it's only fair: Emdeon got SLC's FutureVision (above) and now Salt Lake City's Equation has bought Healthcare Compliance and Consulting Resources, Inc. (HCCR), which is quartered on Union Street, downtown Nashville. Founded in 2001, HCCR provides consulting services to physician practices and hospitals. HCCR will operate under the Equation brand, led by Equation President and CEO Rick Carter. HCCR was founded nine years ago by Cheryl McGee-Watko.

Christie Digital pres on Luminetx acquisition

Christie Digital's Medical division President George Pinho discusses the company's interest in acquiring Luminetx and its VeinViewer technology, as well as Luminetx's 40-nation distribution. The CA reports.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nashville juice flowing in Health IT

Eighteen Nashville healthcare and technology executives share their ideas for seizing Nashville's momentum in the Health IT and informatics arena. Our first story deals with Nashville's rising level of pro-Health IT activity, including tantalizing comments about a start-up that one VC (who is associated with one of the new TNInvestco funds) says is definitely bound for Nashville. Our second story provides C-suite executives' views on what Nashville should do, to seize the moment.

Motricity grips revolver from Silicon Valley Bank

Erstwhile Nashville mobile-sector startup Motricity (aka, PowerbyHand, etc.) has entered a loan agreement with Silicon Valley Bank. Motricity is mostly in Bellvue, Wash., these days, with some presence still in N.C. We think Nashville VC Solidus still has a stake in Motricity.

EnerNex names tech innovation chief

Knoxville-based EnerNex Corporation, a provider of electric power research, engineering and consulting, announced Smart Grid and Power Systems engineering staff leadership changes, including appointment of Doug Houseman to VP of Technology Innovation. Release is here.

Nashville gets 'True Religion'? We'll see.

This ain't your Granma's "true religion," and it remains to be seen how the new True Religion jeans outlet in Green Hills Mall goes over. The Vernon, Calif.-based company announced its opening this morning. You be the judge.

TNInvestco queues forming, Emdeon questions rising

Erin Lawley writes in The City Paper today that the six winning TNInvestco companies are talking with lots of entrepreneurs, and, as it has previously, talk of porfolio companies being lured here from other states resurfaces. Additional TNInvestco coverage. Emdeon also attracts Lawley's eye: She reports on confusion about Emdeon's role, and persistent concern among analysts that Emdeon will become 'disintermediated' by ancillary players and other solutions. See VNC's earlier report on analysts concerns about Emdeon's posture in marketplace, and preference for niche like Passport's.

Nashville's StudioNow bought by AOL

Well, they'd been creeping aroundon cat's feet for awhile, now comes the news StudioNow has been bought by AOL Inc. for $36.5MM. That oughta encourage a few VCs about their exit prospects, at least in some sectors. Our story's here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dupont Danisco, Genera partnership spurs enthusiasm

The folks in the Eastate are getting pretty pumped about their role in clean energy, especially given the region's new public-private push for biofuels manufacturing. On Friday, the DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC plant (headed by Joe Skurla, at left) will have its grand opening, and officials are predicting the pilot operation will become a magnet for visitors (and potential investors) from all over. Genera Energy is also getting a good deal of related grants funding, according to Sunday's story by Larisa Brass in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Venture-backed Incentium update

The Times Free Press provides an update on incentive-gift software and fulfillment company, Incentium, formerly VIPGifts, in Chattanooga. The company is backed by private-equity investors Summit Partners (Boston, London) and Bridgescale Partners (Menlo Park).

Westbrook says TN STEM initiatives often miss mark

An Oak Ridge tutor, Janet Westbrook, pens a biting commentary on recent Tennessee STEM initiatives and says leaders should ask teachers what they really need. The KNS has it.

TN: Silicon State

Last week's announcement that Confluence Solar is going to Clinton, Tenn., got play -- thanks largely to the reach of The Associated Press -- worldwide. We enjoyed this blog, with its reference to TN as the Silicon State. As we write this, it does occur to us this could be mistaken as a reference to cosmetic surgery. But, we digress.

Radiotherapy software can kill

The New York Times reports that a new avenue for errors -- misprogrammed software -- had lead to horrible pain and some deaths of patients.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

UT President search update

The KNS' Tom Humphrey reports a candidate to lead UT-Knoxville as president is to be selected by Oct. 21. The story's here.

Business-park resistance

A Knox County business park proposal is facing community resistance from neighborhood preservation advocates. The KNS reports.

Digital simulation of combat

Exploding IEDs, trauma for gunners atop armored vehicles, computer and fun-ride techniques are makin' it real for soldiers in training. The NY Times reports.

Friday, January 22, 2010

VC investment in Tech down 30 pct.

The New York Times reports on today's report out of the National Venture Capital Association (, showing the lowest level of VC investment in tech startups since 1997: $17.7B in 2,795 deals.

Two TN firms 'Best to Work For'

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, the law firm; and, FedEx Corp. are among Fortune magazine's 13th annual "Best Companies to Work For." Baker Donelson was cited for its diversity efforts. HT: Tennessean's Getahn Ward. The best company? SAS, headquartered in Cary, N.C.

BioMimetic's Papasan profiled

Franklin-based BioMimetic Therapeutics Chairman Larry Papasan is profiled in today's Memphis Business Journal (sub). He lives in Memphis and is on numerous boards, there.

More details on Confluence Solar

The KNS provides most details on the planned Confluence Solar investment in Clinton, Tenn. Meanwhile, the folks in St. Louis are wondering how they lost the competition.

NSF science-engineering progress indicators published

National Science Foundation has published its closely watched Science and Engineering Indicators for the United States. Read about it here.

Higher-ed reform now in TN history books

Legislation passed yesterday: More emphasis on graduate rates over just filling college classroom seats, and fresh energy for research at the University of Tennessee and through a Memphis consortium that includes the University of Memphis. Rick Locker of the CA reports.

Reversible Computing at ORNL

Thanks in part to Stimulus funding, ORNL scientist Kalyan Parumalla is able to go faster and deeper into research of "reversible software execution systems," a field that is particularly important in the context of supercomputing. Frank Munger of the KNS has it.

Chattanooga Convention Center exec leaves

Tim Riddle, executive director of the Chattanooga Convention Center is leaving after 20 years. has it.

Ky. EMR gets Stimulus

Kentucky's health IT effort got a boost from the ARRA Stimulus funding program, with a $2.6MM grant to support advancement of the state's e-health initiative. The Louisville BizJ has it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HMS demo's health IT capacity

Nashville-based Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) today announced it had competed well in demonstrating its health information exchange capabilities.

Nashville Entrepreneur Center gets $100K TTDC grant

The Tennessee Technology Development Corporation board of directors today approved a $100K grant for the fledgling Nashville Entrepreneur Center, approved a number of contracts designed to education and mobilize the state's entrepreneurs and prepared for perhaps six weeks of tough slogging in the General Assembly, as TTDC competes for scarce state resources, to keep its work moving ahead. Our story is here.

WSJ reports Cisco ties with Owen GSM at VU

Frank Grant (left), who has previously been profiled on VNC, is described today in The Wall Street Journal as the linchpin in putting-together Cisco's new relationship with Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management. Cisco wanted its salesforce targeting hospitals to get-up-to-speed on the realities of healthcare operations; and, after talking with a variety of training firms, opted for Owen GSM. HT: VU News Service

HCA-Microsoft Tech grant finalists in Mid-TN

HCA and Microsoft yesterday announced they'll award cash and software to Mid-TN nonprofits that are among 26 finalists for the innovation-using-technology grants. That's HCA CEO Richard Bracken and MS CEO Steve Ballmer, pictured yesterday during the program's announcement (HCA photo). The winners will be announced March 19. Meanwhile, HCA this morning provided VNC a list of the 26 organizations that told MS-HCA they need tech help; they are: Campus for Human Development; Cheekwood; Christian Women’s Job Corps; Conexion Americas; Creating an Environment for Success; Faith Family Medical Clinic; Fannie Battle Day Home; Hearing Bridges; Homework Hotline; Hope Clinic; Hospital Hospitality House; Junior Achievement; Martha O’Bryan; Matthew Walker; Mercy Children’s Clinic; Miriam’s Promise; Monroe Harding; Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity; Nashville Children’s Alliance; Nashville Rescue Mission; Nashville Symphony; Next Door Safe Haven Family Shelter; Tennessee Performing Arts Center; United Cerebral Palsy; and, WAVES Inc.

More Solar investment in TN debuts today

Gov. Phil Bredesen, ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber and officials from Confluence Solar Inc. are set today to announce formally Confluence's investment in a new facility at Clinton, Tenn. A projected 250 jobs are slated for the $400MM facility that makes products for the photovoltaic sector that is becoming an anchor of Tennessee's new economy. Our story is here. Confluence may seek TNInvestcos' investment, as part of its recently launched capital round. The investment complements the Bredesen-driven Solar Institute, new megasite developments, as well as investments announced earlier by Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie. The KNS has a related item this morning, triggered by VNC's report.

Oak Ridge NL VULCAN technology

Frank Munger of the KNS reports on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's VULCAN technology, a powerful new tool in materials testing and development.

UT Chattanooga Biz enrolment may be capped

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has more than 2,000 business-major enrollees, and the school is considering capping annual participation in the degree program. The TFP reports.

Elavon buys processing biz

The KNS reports, "Elavon, a leading U.S. payment processing corporation with a large operations center in Knoxville, has purchased the merchant processing portfolio of Citizens National Bank in Sevier County..." Elavon is part of U.S. Bancorp.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Steve Ballmer, NTC pro-technology event

Tidbits from this morning's annual membership meeting of the Nashville Technology Council, convened at Trevecca Nazarene University, and attended by about 800 persons (largest NTC meeting ever, apparently): NTC Board Chairman Andy Flatt (CIO, Healthspring) said the association aims to establish statewide leadership, leveraging the Metro Nashville region's growth. President Tod Fetherling said the NTC board is holding a strategic-planning meeting this afternoon, no doubt mulling a raft of Fetherling initiatives and trying to prioritize for quality and resources. Fetherling said NTC memberships are up 18 percent, year-over-year, but didn't elaborate. Mayor Karl Dean told the audience last night's Music City Center approval by Metro Council will strengthen N'ville Healthcare, Tourism and, thereby, education, which is our biggest vulnerability as a destination for investment, relocation and retention of talent. Microsoft's personable CEO Steve Ballmer seemed tame, compared with his reputation in tech circles as an often frenzied speaker, but he delivered an engaging, albeit unabashedly commercial overview of MS' latest offerings and things now coming off the drawing boards. He noted that Sharepoint is the company's fastest-growing product, to date. He said technology can help society with one of its biggest and most persistent challenges: accelerating the pace of experimentation and innovation, and enabling faster iterative cycles in tech development and deployment. He mentioned, in particular, the relevance of this in modeling and simulations for energy, science and medicine. Ballmer showed some appreciation for Tennessee's foothold in those areas. (The acceleration and enablement themes were also woven through a tidy presentation by Abbie Lundberg, former editor of CIO.) Ballmer managed, with a wink to his audience, to do all this without uttering the words "Google," or "YouTube," focusing on Bing, Hulu and other platforms. Ballmer speaks at lunchtime to a similar gathering of Nashville Health Care Council at the Hilton downtown. Ballmer told the audience his e-mail is steveb-at-microsoft-dot-com

Three Point Ventures sees app hockeystick

The TFP reports on progress at Three Point Ventures, the mobile-oriented incubator and PE investor. VNC's earlier report on Three Point is here.

Volkswagen update

SL America, based in Clinton, Tenn., won a Volkswagen contract to deliver automatic shift assembles for VW's new midsize sedan, production of which will begin in 2011. has it. Also, the TFP reports that spending of State incentives for training, etc., for Volkswagen is on-track, with not a dollar in excess.

Memphis gets plastics research center

PMC Biogenix, a plastics manufacturer, announced a new technical center devoted to the development of new products from renewable resources in Memphis. The CA reports.

IT entrepreneur Patton may run for office

Collierville's Billy Patton, who founded Patton Computers for custom assembly of computers and repair work, says he might run for office. The CA reports.

Memphians still pushing for slice of TN research buildup

Memphis lawmakers and University of Memphis president Shirley Raines yesterday proposed to Gov. Phil Bredesen a Memphis Research Consortium for inclusion in a higher education bill under debate in the state legislature. Memphians had protested so much emphasis being placed on new roles for UT, and the omission of Memphis institutions that Bredesen has long encouraged. The consortium would include the U of M, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, FedEx Corp., Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care System, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical Technology Inc. and Medtronic Sofamor Danek. The CA reported Bredesen was described as "receptive."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MCC: Nashville Priorities not getting outsiders' dough

Music City Center goes up for a crucial vote tonight in Metro Council, but whatever the outcome, let the record show that MCC foes at Nashville Priorities do not believe they have, according to NvP leader Kevin Sharp (left), received any funding from Gaylord or from cities that might like to see the MCC proposal fail (Indianapolis has been mentioned). Sharp told VNC, in fact, that if he were offered money from such competing interests, he wouldn't accept it, and he doesn't believe any such money has been at work surreptitiously. Nor, he said, has Gaylord contributed further, since it's initial $8K+ outlay. The rumor mill has also suggested that locally based Saint Consulting Group, which makes a business of fighting opponents of developers' projects, might have been involved in opposing MCC. However, owner Mike Saint told VNC via phone from Europe last week that SaintCom has in no way been involved in the contest. The confusion may have arisen from the fact that a former SaintCom employee, Darden Copeland, is heavily involved in the anti-MCC effort. The Nashville Priorities camp is hoping Council will vote down the MCC bill tonight, or send the matter to a public referendum. Meanwhile, recently published survey and Council-canvassing efforts suggest the MCC is likely to pass tonight.

Agile Software Alliance meeting here

The Agile Alliance, which promotes adoption and improvement of Agile software development, has invited speaker nominations for its Aug. 9-13 conference in Nashville.

FiledBy: Ahora se habla

FiledBy, the online directory of authors and book contributors, announced today the portal now extends to cover Spanish-language authors and collaborators.

Newsbits, Jan. 19, 2010

Among the seven items featured in this roundup: OnFocus raises more capital..Joe Cook accepts more pro bono work...A VU School of Nursing official is on the board of a health supplier...Medical Banking...updates on Debut Broadcasting, Inkflip...and more here.

Microsoft's Ballmer in Music City

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's meetings here tomorrow are being covered like the diplomatic visit of the head of state of a small nation rich in strategically important ores. The Tennessean reports on Ballmer's scheduled meetings with Nashville Technology Council, Nashville Health Care Council and the music industry, as part of a multi-city tour by the peregrine executive who's been at the helm of MS ten years. The story's here. Given MS's strong position in technology for the healthcare vertical, there's mention in the story of MS possibly being a tenant in the proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center.

'Race to Top' gets another Obama push

The Obama Administration's 'Race to the Top' K-12 reform initiative gets another bump today, when President Obama announces another round of funding, on top of the one hotly contested by the State of Tennessee. The Washington Post reports.

Entrepreneur Pat Carter profiled in CA

Memphis serial entrepreneur Pat Carter, known for his philanthropy, as well as his drive, is profiled by the Commercial Appeal.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Humanity Ascending | Vanderbilt Magazine

Vanderbilt Magazine offers vignette's of graduates who have followed their passions to serve humankind in the U.S. and in developing nations. These inspiring samples are here.

ORNL chief favors Bredesen plan, but some college backers resist

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason (left) heartily endorses Gov. Phil Bredesen's plan for a graduate program more tightly linking the two institutions. Meanwhile, KNS columnist Tom Humphrey reports budget politics may threaten the proposal, partly due to lingering resentment in Memphis that institutions there are being overlooked. In addition, the Times Free Press reports that community colleges are wary of taking on more responsibility for increasing graduation rates.

Oak Ridge Global Venture Challenge, March 24-26

Oak Ridge NL is again sponsoring the Global Venture Challenge, March 24-26, in cooperation with Meritus Ventures, and others. Entrepreneurs are invited to pitch energy and security ideas. Details are here.

Tennessee Solar market needed

Larisa Brass reports for KNS on the ripple-effects created by Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie's investments in Tennessee. One source explains that Tennessee must not only serve as the beginning of a Solar supply chain, but must also create market-demand within the state for solar products for residential and commercial use.

Sen. Alexander's nuclear push faces obstacles

Environmentalists, economists and others are challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander's push to build more U.S. nuclear energy plants. The Tennessean reports, Jan. 18.

Startups: 'IPO becoming bad word in Valley'

The New York Times reports growing reluctance among entrepreneurs to go public, because of the drag on running the company, and because 'selling out' may mean your grandkids won't know your company.

Bonaroo parent hires COO

Patrick Roddy has joined AC Entertainment, the owner-producers of Bonaroo and other ventures, as chief operating officer. The KNS has it. Roddy is related to a family-owned Coca-Cola Bottling enterprise, and is a former investment advisor with UBS and Merrill Lync.

Eastate entrepreneur award winners

Catching-up: We may not previously have posted that The Innovation Valley Technology Council (Tech2020) last fall announced its Navigator Award winners: Radio Systems PetSafe, innovative large company; Genera Energy, innovative small company; Misty Mayes, Management Solutions, outstanding entrepreneur; Oak Ridge Associated Universities, large company community service award; and RecruitWise, small company community service award. In addition, in the related ThrottleUp 2009 event, TrakLok™ Corporation won the business plan pitch competition for seed and early stage companies. TrakLok helps companies globally track intermodal shipping containers.

FCC's Net Neutrality posture challenged

The FCC, say some observers, is likely to lose in its confrontation with Comcast over restricting bandwidth consumption of Web users, a situation that could weaken the Feds' drive for Net Neutrality, now deemed the hottest issue in telecom. The Washington Post reports.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Smith & Nephew HQ could spur biomed investments

Memphians are hoping Smith & Nephew's purchase of its new headquarters from Harrah's will spur additional biomedical investments in the Memphis area. The CA reports.

Logistics entrepreneur makes exit

Memphis entrepreneur Mike Bruns sold his Comtrak Logistics a few years ago to the Hub Group. Now, he's done his earnout and plans retirement and increased philanthropy. The CA reports.

Robotic surgery in ETN

Hospitals in Tennessee are among the greatest advocates, it seems, of adopting the 10-year-old da Vinci robotic surgery technology. The KNS reports.

SunGard CEO likes Yammer

SunGard CEO Cristobal Conde says use of collaboration tools is essential in the SunGard culture and he praises Yammer, the Twitter-like service, for helping make his company a good place to work. NYTimes reports.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

TN education reform advances

The General Assembly and Gov. Phil Bredesen showed what they can do when they're on even-close to the same page. Yesterday, the legislature passed the "First to the Top" bill Bredesen will sign, positioning the state to win some federal "Race to the Top" money, through a grant that would tie teacher retention to student performance. The City Paper reports. Tom Humphrey of the KNS reports. Rick Locker of the CA reports.

Chattanooga Tech Transfer event

Enterprise Center Inc. in Chattanooga will hold its third annual tech-transfer conference, April 23. reports.

Update on Nissan Leaf e-car in TN

The Times Free Press provides an update on plans for the Nissan Leaf to be test-introduced in Tennessee. The story's here.

Knoxville Chamber Entrepreneur deadline

The Knoxville Chamber Pinnacle Awards for innovators, young entrepreneurs and others is coming up, and the deadline for nominations is Feb. 19.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kazimi on Cumberland Pharma

Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Founder, Chairman and CEO A. J. Kazimi (at left) told executives assembled for Owen GSM Professor Germain Boer's entrepreneurs breakfast this morning that one reason refused to withdraw his IPO from the SEC shelf was that his research showed that companies that did that never came back for a public offering. Instead, often because of cash woes, they sold, took private equity, or somesuch. Kazimi said Cumberland was doing fine on cash, and could afford to wait the reopening on the IPO window, and would need investment from the IPO to fuel its longer-term product-acquisitions strategy. The company made a record 20 amendments to its shelf filing, while waiting. Although the company attracted $85MM in gross proceeds and netted more than $75MM from its IPO Aug. 10, 2009, Kazimi said today that his priority is scaling-up his operations around Cumberland three current products, rather than immediately rushing to "drop in a fourth product." Once the IPO was imminent, Kazimi explained, he personally made about 100 presentations to investors in five days, including pitches he was obliged to make by phone during plane flights. Speakers during Boer's breakfasts are speaking off the record, unless they give permission to be quoted. Kazimi agreed VNC could write about his remarks. Kazimi's CPIX (NASDAQ) was trading at about $14 this morning.

Leadership Music seeks Leader

Leadership Music has announced it has launched a search for a new chief staff director for the nonprofit, in the wake of Executive Director Kira Florita's (left) announcement she's leaving Jan. 18. The details are here.

TNInvestco update: More funds? FourBridges' role

In this morning's update on TNInvestco, VNC provides some background on FourBridges' role in raising commitments from insurance companies for participation in the capital-formation program; and, comments on a couple of new funds' efforts. The Story's here.

Ozburn Hessey expansions

Ozburn Hessey has greatly expanded its logistics and warehousing space in both Memphis and Milwaukee, according to recent reports.

VNC Member NEXUS Group names CEO, CFO

VNC Member News: The Nexus Group, based in Nashville, has named former Oracle exec Steve Brugman its CEO, and longtime healthcare executive and entrepreneur Robert England as CFO. The men are L-R, respectively, at the left. The company's release is here.

Deloitte M&A transaction-services chief Nix

Here's a people item: Deloitte's Nashville-based chief for M&A transaction-services support is Lissa Nix, a Tennessee native and a honored board member of Leadership Health Care. Here's our story.

Biz brokers struggle to sell small businesses

Business brokers in the Nashville area reported small-business sales down 13 percent year-over-year in 2009, with an even sharper slump in fourth quarter. NBJ has it (sub).

Noranda amends shelf IPO

Franklin-based Noranda Aluminum Holding Co. amended its shelved IPO filing, this morning. The document is here. In the document, the company's estimate of SEC fees due is based on a raise of $250MM.

Governor's Academy changing model

The Tennessee Governor's Academy for Math & Science in South Knoxville will soon no longer be a residential campus for high-school students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will be non-residential and may become a regional, rather than statewide institution. It serves about 50 students each year and has been operating three years. The KNS reports. In a related story, Knoxville-area science and math teachers will shadow workers in local businesses, in an effort to learn how to help related education to the workplace. The KNS reports.

SEC names enforcement chiefs

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission named new leadership for enforcement units. The release is here.

'Janitorial' functions of IT dying

Information technology has been changed forever by the Internet and The Cloud, say speakers during a Memphis business event, and the days of Information Technology firms doing tasks akin to 'janitorial' duty are coming to an end. The CA reports.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Convention Center curveball from Fitch Ratings

The push for the Music City Center Convention Center may've taken a hit this morning, with Fitch Ratings announcing a slight downgrade in bond ratings for Davidson County. The announcement late this afternoon is here. One source close to the MCC debate suggested to VNC there could soon be better ratings forthcomings from other ratings services.

Haiti crisis response resources

Vanderbilt has created a resource page and Google has created a page with Haiti earthquake crisis response resources.

USAF's local chief seeks Tullahoma engagement

U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Panarisi (left), commander of Arnold Air Force Base and Arnold Engineering Development Center, at Tullahoma, wants more involvement with local communities, particularly in improving K-12 education. Times-Gazette story here. AEDC does wind-tunnel and other engineering studies of aerodynamics and other issues.

ORNL's Zacharia at VU Engineering this afternoon

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Deputy Director for Science and Technology Thomas Zacharia (left) will speak today at 4 p.m. at the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University, regarding supercomputing's role in developing new energy alternatives. The VU release is here.

First Aviation booming

Memphis-based First Aviation Services and its Aerospace Products division seem to be booming, in the wake of acquisitions and investment by an Israeli firm. The CA reports.

VanMiddlesworth, 91, continues UTHSC research

UT Health Science Center Prof. Lester VanMiddlesworth, 91, has been studying indocrine processes 63 years at the school, aided the past 20 years by his volunteer lab assistant, his wife. The CA reports.

Memphians perceive Bredesen slight

The CA's editorial today makes plain that some Memphians are still rankled that Gov. Bredesen, who has often voiced support for the University of Memphis and the UT Health Sciences Center there, did not include references to those institutions in his address on improving scientific research at UT and in the state, generally.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

VUMC's Drug Discovery's 2nd pact with Seaside

Vanderbilt University's Drug Discovery Program has signed its second collaborative agreement with Cambridge-based Seaside Therapeutics. This time, fragile X and autism are the diseases, and finding new compounds that could become drugs to fight those diseases is the challenge the two parties have embraced. VNC's earlier report on the work of the Drug Discovery Program under Jeff Conn, Ph.D., is here.

McWhorter to lead Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Clayton McWhorter, entrepreneur and healthcare-services pioneer, has been named the first chairman of the board of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. See today's VNC story.

Minton accused of more misdeeds

Hendersonville businessman Alton Minton, perilously close to earning the tag "notorious," has, according to Nashville Business Journal, now been indicted for misdealings associated with fractional yacht ownership, a model apparently much like his FractionAir venture that ran afould of various boundaries. We reported in 2008 on Minton's delay in launching yet another venture, iNowTV.

Skoodat to Capitol Hill, DC

Chattanooga-based Skoodat, which provides software-as-service offerings to track and analyze K-12 students' academic data, will be among exhibitors descending on a U.S. Senate office building, Jan. 26, in Washington, D.C. VNC reported two months ago on Skoodat's attempts to raise $3MM in private capital to scaleup further.

Change:Healthcare, Owen faculty study consumers

ChangeHealthcare, which advocates transparency in healthcare services pricing and delivery, announced yesterday it has joined with Owen Graduate School of Management Professors Lawrence Van Horn and Luke Froeb to explore answers to the question, "How much does the price of healthcare have to vary before consumers will change their purchasing behavior?" The release is here.

Meharry health-policy appointee

Daniel Howard, Ph.D. (at left), has been named executive director of Meharry Medical College's new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy. Release is here. The new center has received more than $18MM in startup grant funding. Howard earned his Ph.d. at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

U.S. Stimulus impact uncertain

The Washington Post reports that while 2 million jobs may have been 'saved or created', the actual impact is somewhat obscured, though data-reporting methods may improve.

'Noogan pushes franchise opportunities

Chattanoogan Bruce Krebs, a former apparel-manufacturing exec, has set up a Chattanooga office for the Entrepreneurs Source, and is recruiting folks who are prepared to become franchisees. He's done hundreds of deals, he tells the TFP.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kroll extends offering to Canada market

Nashville-based Kroll Fraud Solutions, a division of Kroll Inc. (Marsh & McLennan), has extended its fraud-solutions services to Canada, according to a release this morning. Kroll's Nashville presence is a result of local entrepreneur Mike Shmerling's sale of Background America to Kroll, years ago.

Universal in download pact

Universal Music announced yesterday it's entered an agreement with to provide consumers free, ad-supported music downloads from its catalogs.

Oak Ridge Energy Corridor eyes initiatives

The newly dubbed Oak Ridge Energy Corridor will focus its efforts on launching programs related to power generation and distribution and energy efficiency, with a goal of zero carbon footprint for the industrial park. Larisa Brass reports for KNS.

UMemphis prof argues for lower corporate taxes

University of Memphis economics professor Ronald Spahr argues that by lowering U.S. corporate tax rates, the nation would become more competitive and would alleviate some downward pressure on wages. The MDN reports. Spahr is chair of the UM department of finance, insurance and real estate, within the UM Fogelman College of Business & Economics.

Bredesen: Complete College Tennessee

Gov. Phil Bredesen unveiled a higher-ed reform plan that puts more responsibility on community colleges for remedial education of college students. The TFP reports.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Phil Fulmer joins venture firm Northshore

The KNS reports former UT Football Coach Phil Fulmer has joined Northshore Management, which provides business-advisory and capital services through Northshore Capital Advisors. With Fulmer's arrival, Northshore is broadening its base from wealth management to more private equity investment.

Cybera's new Cloud solution

Franklin-based Cybera this morning announced its Secure|Link "cloud-based security and connectivity solution for enterprise customers in the retail, restaurant, convenience and healthcare industries."

Atlanta worries about Tech leadership

Writing for TechJournalSouth, lawyer John Yates of Morris, Manning & Martin LLP, says Atlanta must preserve its regional technology leadership by placing renewed emphasis on infrastructure, entrepreneurship, incentives, leveraging current tech strengths and more intense focus on industry clusters.

Digital Reasoning names new CEO

Cool Springs-based Digital Reasoning Systems has named a former LexisNexis executive its new president. Our story is here.

Social Media event underway

Social Fresh, a franchised event run out of Charlotte, N.C., is underway in Nashville today. In a move timed, it seems, to coincide with the convening of SocialFresh, Nashville-based SEO expert Freddie O'Connell (at left) -- who recently launched SearchViz, an SEO consultancy -- yesterday penned a wide-ranging and thought-provoking blogpost on the imperative of insisting on RoI from Social Media, the downside of relying on out-of-town social-media gurus, the crucial challenge of linking that RoI to the minds in the executive suite, the development of local software and other talent, and more. Among his mentions: The earlier spirited discussion on this blog about how to keep software talent here... and, Marcus Whitney's LAMP challenge during the recent Barcamp event.

VW execs update on progress

On the eve of the convening of the famous North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volkswagen executives told journalists that Chattanooga remains key to VW establishing greater market share in North America. The TFP reports.

Blasingame on business basics in bad times

Small-biz advocate Jim Blasingame offers these oldies-but-bear-repeating-goodies on things to watch for in your business, during bad times.

More kudos! for Sitel

Canadian-owned Sitel, the customer-care outsourcer that has a large presence in Tennessee, has been named best overall global contact center in the 2009 Black Book of Outsourcing survey, according to a company release this morning.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Gov. Bredesen pushes UT as research powerhouse

With a goal of turning the University of Tennessee into one of the nation's top 25 research universities by 2020, Gov. Phil Bredesen yesterday announced $6MM in seed money to begin a push to add 200 Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists to UT academic ranks, and recruit 400 new graduate students to the campus from Tennessee and around the world. He also wants to double UT's annual research budget to $400MM. The KNS reports it here. The governor said he hopes to attract venture capital and federal funds for the push. UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said the governor's plan would prove "transformational" for UT.

[Updated] Nashvillian on 'Shark Tank' gets gentler rebuff

[Updated Jan. 9, 9:42 a.m.] Franklin resident Andy Sperry's (left) taped appearance last night on ABC's In the Shark Tank had many waiting in anticipation of seeing Sperry treated roughly. Sperry was offering 20 percent of his Inkflip seed company for $150K. Inkflip offers consumers replacement inkjet cartridges via continual-recycling mail delivery, a la Netflix. The sometimes ham-handed Sharks were, it turned out, pretty gentle in telling Sperry he'd failed bigtime in not bringing with him the cost of acquiring each new Inkflip customer. They said that was a deal-killer, and they were quickly "all out." Episode 12 with Andy is here. There was a poignant moment when Andy explained he had not yet tested scaled-up marketing, because he and his family had invested $50K and couldn't realistically sink more money in it, without help. That may have tempered the panelists' tone. Andy taped the Shark episode last summer, for airing Jan. 8. Andy told VNC yesterday morning he has about 300 customers and needs "in the neighborhood" of 3,000 to be at a real breakeven point. In 2009, another Tennessean, Jeff Cohen, took his foldup guitar to the Shark Tank. The product, Voyage-Air Guitar, has a rockin' website here. HT: NBJ Jan. 8.

Nashville's Zycron grows faster in Memphis

Nashville-based Zycron Information Technology Services and Solutions told the Memphis Business Journal its largest office is now Memphis, where the company manages $16MM in work for the city. The story's here.

UT Chattanooga adopts SunGard open campus

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga adopted the SunGard Higher Education open-campus solution for online services. TFP reports.

Tips on getting VW biz

Two German consultants gave an audience of Chattanooga businessmen some tips on getting contracts from Volkswagen. Having well-prepared sales reps contact the right folks via online and phone really helps, as does being prepared to demonstrate that your company is prepared to satisfy VW quality and process requirements. TFP reports.

Alabama seeks to lure financial companies

Alabama has passed into law a new tax-credit incentive to help lure financial institutions to headquarter in the state, but some economic-development advocates say it's too little, too late. The Birmingham Business Journal reports. Alabama has had some success in other sectors with incentives, including life sciences.

Friday, January 08, 2010

IT player Guidant profiled

Managed IT services provider Guidant Partners and its founder-CEO Steve Burgess are profiled by Linda Bryant in today's Nashville Business Journal. In the NBJ story, Burgess says just keeping-up with technology changes is his biggest challenge, along with moving from a small business to a professionally managed enterprise. The firm is doing about $4.5MM yearly, and recently joined with New York-based Maxim Networx to launch Guidant Associates, a JV in the Empire State.

Aqua-Chem's M&A strategy

Knoxville-area Aqua-Chem says it's aiming for $100MM revenue, partly via M&A's. The company employs 150 in the Forks of the River Industrial Park. The company makes water-purification systems. The KNS reports.

Another TeamHealth acquisition

Knoxville-based TeamHealth Holdings announced another acquisition this morning: Anesthetix Management of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Gov. Bredesen wants Community College chief

The Times Free Press reports Gov. Phil Bredesen will ask the legislature to support creating a vice chancellor within the Tennessee Board of Regents to oversee community colleges, which he believes must have a stronger role in postsecondary education than they have previously.

ARPA-E Summit set

The DOE announced its inaugural ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit will be March 1-3 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center. Release is here.

Memphis BioWorks workforce grant

Memphis Bioworks Foundation announced it has been awarded a $2.9 million Energy Training Partnership Grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Green Jobs Training Program. The release is here.

DuPont Danisco ethanol plant opening Jan. 29

Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC and UT Research Foundation's Genera Energy LLC will hold a grand celebration for the milestone plant, Jan. 29. Ethanol Producer has it.


U2's Bono, other investors hangin' with Palm Pre...Start-up pricing improves as IPO numbers increase.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tech Council moves on wi-fi under Flatt, Fetherling

Nashville Technology Council Chairman Andy Flatt, the CIO at Healthspring, apparently wasn't making idle chatter last summer, when VNC reported Flatt was considering a broadband or wi-fi initiative during his term atop NTC. The idea of launching a Metro wi-fi or wi-max network has been around more than four years, since well before a special Metro Council task force, chaired by Zycron Founder and entrepreneur Darrell Freeman, and spurred by then-Councilman David Briley, began pushing for improved broadband in Davidson County and environs. The Task Force report is here. NTC President Tod Fetherling told VNC this afternoon that, provided the small pilot of the system goes well in February, new nodes could be added beyond the core's rougly 1-mile radius by this spring. NTC, Fetherling said, is defraying the $3K pilot cost from NTC cashflow. San Francisco-based Meraki, which is supporting NTC's effort, has public wi-fi installations in many cities, including Harvard Square.

Rival med center scales-back, MCC body votes approval

The medical trade mart in New York City that has been a rival to Nashville's own planned Nashville Medical Trade Center has scaled-back its square-footage plans to enable the group -- the World Product Center -- to begin operating earlier than previously planned. Crain's New York Business Health Pulse (subscription) says the WPC's planned "tower" has been "scrapped," and goes on to explain, in part, "The center's backers now say they will lease only 300,000 to 350,000 square feet initially, which they hope to secure by the end of March. They're scouting Manhattan for a site where more space could later be leased for expansion. They say that the initial downshift will enable them to open within 18 months instead of in 2013 as originally planned, giving the project a huge advantage over medical markets proposed for Nashville and Cleveland." News out of Cleveland this morning shows that project has gotten a new head of steam. Meanwhile, here in Nashville, the NBJ reports that this morning the Convention Center Authority, as expected, voted to approve the budget proffered for the new Music City Center, all of which goes to a critical vote in Metro Council, Jan. 19.

Luminetx sold, Christie keeps Memphis presence

As anticipated in our earlier posts on Luminetx, the CA reports that yesterday Luminetx completed its asset sale to Christie Digital Systems. The Memphis Daily News reports that Christie is creating a new division to sell VeinViewer and other services.

Matthews on Social Media evolution

In Memphis, Mercury Labs entrepreneur Eric Matthews said 'social' will be the 4-letter word of 2010, but that doesn't mean you should ignore social media. Rather, he said, we must evolve with social media, leveraging new developments while expending time and money, deliberatively. The CA reports it.

Three Point Ventures adds partner

In Chattanooga, Three Point Ventures has added a fourth partner, Todd Bickerstaff, according to As reported earlier by VNC, Three Point aims to incubate startups that are focused on the mobile sector.

Confluence Solar eyeing TN site?

Missouri-based Confluence Solar, which has a process for processing silicon for solar cells, is reportedly considering one or more Tennessee sites for a new facility, in addition to sites in other states. Larisa Brass reports it for the KNS.

ORNL could tackle healthcare fraud, waste

Oak Ridge National Laboratory supercomputing capacity could be directed toward identifying fraud and waste by continually analyzing Federal claims and payment data for services for Medicare, Medicaid and other programs, according to ORNL researcher Andrew Loebl. Government Computer News has the story.

ORAU exec touts Energy opportunities

Energy drives the economy, thus Tennessee needs to gets its educational house in order, according to an ORAU official. The OakRidger has it.

UT car-driving simulator aids research

An automobile-driving simulator at the University of Tennessee allows researchers to study driving behavior of impaired drivers, including those with alzheimer's. The KNS has it.

Kisber, Cromwell face challenging year

Here's our story on the challenges facing State ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber and TTDC President Eric Cromwell, and what priorities they've set themselves in 2010.

Peat, Gatto, Chadwick on watching NVille Techies

Here's our story, also published by Digital Nashville, on how local VCs follow the efforts of local Tech innovators and entrepreneurs. Cited are Council's Gary Peat, Claritas' John Chadwick and Solidus' Vic Gatto.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

[Updated] TNInvestco funds escrowed, Applicants listed

Tennessee Department of Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr told VNC earlier this week that aggregated TNInvestco funds are being managed through the state's master escrow account. A spokesman for the State Treasurer told VNC the escrow account will be managed by Treasury staff as part of the State Pooled Investment Fund. We don't have a lot of details, but it suggests that momentarily, the six winning TNInvestco funds will be able to draw down funds for investment of at least $84MM in seed- and early-stage companies in Tennessee. In addition, TNInvestco officials, responding to a VNC request, provided a list of 117 entities that applied via the TNInvestco website, asking their names be passed along to TNInvestco finalists. Of course, in addition to the 117 who made that formal request, dozens, if not hundreds of others have plied their business plans before TNInvestco certified firms they could reach, for months. Update Jan. 7th: State ECD and Revenue issued a press release saying the six TNInvestcos raised $85MM for investment in seed- and early-stage companies, following the State's sales via TNInvestco-certified companies of $120MM in premium tax credits to insurance companies.

KraftCPAs' Baker helps launch network

In Nashville, KraftCPAs' Wynne Baker (left), CPA, CFSA, CBA, is a key expert supporting the launch of the Bankers Education and Development Network, created by Salt Lake City-based BizVision. The BizVision release is here. Baker, 62, told VNC today he's been involved in auditing banks and in presenting educational programs for bankers and CPAs for years, and BizVision sought him out. Much of the work will be done in cooperation with the Tennessee Society of CPAs, based in Brentwood.