Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Newsbits, March 30, 2010

Here's today's roundup: Two new senior tech hires at EMMA and at HMS... An update on IMI Health's next capital raise.. VCs Noro-Moseley and Chrysalis add deal-flow operatives... plus, news from FiledBy, PerfectServe, Signal Energy, TrakLok, Appriss and more here.

VoicesHeard Media fund-raising

Knoxville's VoiceHeard Media, which enables advertisers who want their ads inserted in digital-media content, has closed its $1.5MM A round and is prepping for a B-round of up to $5MM. The story's here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Reagan Farr on Liberadio

State Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr said this morning in a light-hearted interview with the hosts of Liberadio, broadcasting on 91.1FM from the VU campus, that while a State Sales Tax Holiday is supported by "my boss," Governor Phil Bredesen, he nonetheless doesn't think it's "great tax policy." Still, he said, if you're going to have one, focusing it on school-related purchases is a good priority; and, it's been "very successful" in helping retailers compete with businesses that lie just across the state line, where sales taxes might be lower. He said Tennessee's sales tax is no longer so much higher than those of most other states, and he thinks there are many items that are now sales tax-exempt that should be reviewed for possible taxation. Addressing the issue of a state income tax, Farr said the Bredesen Administration is on-record as opposed to a State earned-income tax, and he believes that's important to Tennessee's economic-development competitiveness. However, he indicated, conservative budgeting is especially important in the absence of such a tax. In that context, he noted that the Bredesen Administration and the General Assembly have enacted budget cuts in five of the past seven years. Touching quickly on the FONCE dispute that had provoke some venture capitalists and others during the past couple of years, Farr, who won changes in the law he sought, noted that he had been "amazed at the pushback we got" from interest groups. Farr also affirmed he was, indeed, named after the late President Ronald Reagan, because some in his family thought Reagan was "cute." Surprisingly, the subject of TNInvestco was not raised during the interview.

Stunner! TN wins Race to Top!

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that Tennessee and Delaware have won grants in the first phase of the Race to the Top competition. "We received many strong proposals from states all across America, but two applications stood out above all others: Delaware and Tennessee," Duncan said in announcing the winners. "Both states have statewide buy-in for comprehensive plans to reform their schools. They have written new laws to support their policies. And they have demonstrated the courage, capacity, and commitment to turn their ideas into practices that can improve outcomes for students." Tennessee will receive a remarkable $500MM and Delaware $100MM in this phase. The entire Dept. of Education release is here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

VU Engineering Alumni spawn businesses

VNC research shows at least eleven Middle Tennessee businesses created and-or led by alumni or faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering. The report is here.

Venture Notes, March 26

Claritas Capital's John Chadwick, Innova's Ken Woody and a MoonPie entrepreneur sound off, in this gathering of Venture items.

Farr comments on investor criteria

Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr says he agrees with Nashville Capital Network and others that the threshold for investor accreditation should not be raised, because such a move would take capital off the table and would be "paternalistic." Read the VNC story here.

Governor's e-Health unit gets leader

VNC's report on the appointment of Will Rice, previously with Vanderbilt University regional health-information exchange and informatics initiatives, is now leading the e-Health office created by Gov. Phil Bredesen. The story's here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coleman appealing TNInvestco ruling

Venture Capitalist Larry Coleman is not willing to accept Chancery Court Chancellor Russell Perkins' ruling against his Public Records Act petition for access to TNInvestco documents that might let him determine whether his firm Coleman Swenson Booth and other non-winners were unfairly left out of the money, when Gov. Phil Bredesen's ECD and Revenue commissioners announced TNInvestco winners, Nov. 6. Coleman asks the Appeals court to review the trial court's ruling, in hope of a different outcome. For the first time, Coleman makes clear in his latest petition before Appeals Court that he wants access to documents that might allow him to consider further action before TNInvestco-funded funds begin making investments and before the legislature broadens funding for the program, further. TNInvestco-certified Innova Fund has already announced one such investment. Coleman filed his notice of appeal in Chancery Court on March 9. He filed his request for expedited appeal in the Tennessee Appeals Court in Nashville, on Friday, March 19. Coleman and his attorney, Jim Bowen of Riley Warnock & Jacobson, decline to comment on the matter for this article.

Southcomm in M&A talks

Nashville-based Southcomm Communications, a portfolio company of venture-capital firm Solidus Co., is in talks with Sam Hatcher's Main Street Media LLC, based in Lebanon, Tenn. While Southcomm CEO Chris Ferrell did not respond to a VentureNashville.com query in the matter, Hatcher's attorney, Charles Bone, told VNC this morning "there have been a lot of conversations and those conversations continue as late as last week..." Bone said Hatcher is continuing to explore what might make sense in a relationship with Southcomm. Main Street owns six newspapers and three magazines in Middle Tennessee, as well as several monthly publications in Florida. Southcomm owns The City Paper, Nashville Scene, NashvillePost.com, Music Row, nFocus, Her, LEO (Louisville), Medical News (several regions), and sponsored-media publisher Southcomm Publishing and closely allied Target Marketing.

IMI buys Boundary SaaS player

Brentwood-based IMI Health (Integration Management, Inc.), a provider of healthcare data mining and reporting services, has acquired Minnesota-based BoundaryMedical, gaining SaaS product Outcomes Enterprise and adding about $1 million in revenue, bringing IMI to about $4 million, with a dozen employees. NashvillePost.com reports IMI will probably raise up to $750K in outside capital, to support sales and marketing.

Kleiner Perkins in again in Nodality

Nodality, the Bay Area biotech player with a key lab in Franklin, has gotten more money from Kleiner Perkins and other VCs: $15.5MM total in its latest round. Our story's here.

NCN not 'complaining'...just sayin'

Okay, let's just say they have concerns, not complaints. Nashville Capital Network and Angel Capital Association have weighed-in, whatever the label, against banking-reform legislation pushed by Sen. Chris Dodd, saying some sections will hurt investment in early-stage companies. The story's here.

MB Ventures in Spinal Restoration B round

In Memphis, Managing Partner Gary Stevenson confirmed MB Venture Partners recently participated in a $16MM Series B round for its portfolio company Spinal Restoration. The early-stage company recently announced progress toward clinical testing for its nonsurgical treatment of symptoms associated with low-back pain. MB Ventures is founder and co-host with Memphis Bioworks of the Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference each year, with the next outing scheduled for October. Austin Ventures, Path4 Ventures and Sante Health Ventures also invested in the B.

SIGNiX readies $3MM-$5MM raise

SIGNiX, the e-signature people in Chattanooga, have weathered their share of storms, and now they're prepared to row harder, if they can raise up to $5MM in outside capital. The VNC story's here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Death of Apple board member from Memphis

Yesterday, Apple's Steve Jobs announced the death of a board member who hailed from Memphis: "Apple® is sad to announce the death of Apple Board member Jerome B. (Jerry) York [at left, age 71]. York, the chairman, president and CEO of Harwinton Capital, joined Apple's Board of Directors in 1997. He was the former CFO of IBM and Chrysler, and former vice chairman of Tracinda. He is widely acknowledged for his contributions at Chrysler and IBM during their turnarounds. Jerry joined Apple's Board in 1997 when most doubted the company's future. He has been a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on our Board for over a dozen years," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "It's been a privilege to know and work with Jerry, and I'm going to miss him a lot." Jerry York was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1938. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, and received an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Michigan. Trained as an engineer, York worked his way up through Chrysler to become CFO." InformationWeek reported York died after a brain hemorrhage. Among many achievements, York was once vice chairman of Tracinda, a firm controlled by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian. (AP Photo)

Frontstream acquires Fast Transact

NoroMoseley- and Arsenal Capital-backed Frontstream Payments, based in Brentwood, bought Olympia, Wash.-based Fast Transact. Arsenal's in NYC and Noro-Moseley's in Atlanta. The release is here.

Vanderbilt University supports Healthcare reform

Vanderbilt University today issued its endorsement of the latest healthcare reform proposal before Congress, saying, in part, "...Vanderbilt believes the reforms embodied in the legislation will improve our health insurance and health care delivery systems..." The release is here.

Digital Music Summit postponed

Leadership Music's annual DigitalSummit, we just noticed, has just been postponed from Monday-Tuesday, March 22-23, to sometime in September 2010. The move may be a result of the recent resignation of longtime LM Executive Director Kira Florita, who continues to consult to LM. Florita resigned in January, after five years' service.

TJS profiles Meritus Ventures

Grady Vanderhoofven of Meritus Ventures is the spokesman for the Kentucky- and Tennessee-based fund. Grady also plays a key role shaping the Southern Appalachian Fund. TechJournalSouth's story is here.

Pittco, Innova execs counsel entrepreneurs

EmergeMemphis' gathering of entrepreneurs and VCs was sold-out at 50-strong, and execs including Andrew Seamons (left) of Pittco and Ken Woody of Innova Fund advised entrepreneurs to be passionate, but well informed and realistic. The CA has it.

FedEx CEO praises Obama, dismisses criticism of Memphis

FedEx Founder-CEO Fred Smith praised President Obama as pro-business and dismissed a recent ranking of Memphis as one of the nation's most miserable cities. The CA has it.

Sanofi-backed Chattem bullish

With the company's acquisition by Sanofi still fresh, Chattem execs say that, as the U.S. headquarters for Sanofi's over-the-counter products, it'll spend a wad in promoting Allegra vs. Claritin and other products. A manufacturing facility is also getting the most expensive upgrade in the company's history. The Times Free Press has it.

State Funding Board hears Laffer, others

Beginning today, the State Funding Board, which declares economic parameters for annual State budgeting, will hear from a series of outside experts, including Nashville-based supply-side economist Arthur Laffer on where they think we're headed. Chattanoogan.com has it. The Funding Board's meetings will be live-streamed on the Internet.

No LLC disclosure

A supposed 'anti-corruption' bill that would've required LLCs' owners and investors be identified died in committee earlier this week, as the General Assembly reaches toward the budget debate. The TFP's Andy Sher has it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ICA's 'meaningful use' seminar, March 31

Informatics Corporation of America -- profiled in a VNC article today -- is offering a seminar on benefits that can be extracted from adhering to "meaningful use" requirements for Health IT implementation. Details here.

Nissan names Marketing VP

Nissan North America today announced Joel Ewanick has been named vice president, Marketing, Nissan Division, effective March 22. He succeeds Christian Meunier, whose appointment as president, Nissan Brazil, was announced Feb. 5.

Venture potpouri

Today's Newsbits aggregation provides updates on StudioNow's CEO, ENA big contract win, the Music City Research Consortium, a new science TV stream, a VC's public service, an important workshop for those who'd like to see local Life Sciences more highly developed, plus speaker-events and more, all right here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TNInvestco expansion likely

On Friday, Sen. Doug Overbey (left, R-Maryville) told VNC he remains optimistic that the TNInvestco capital-formation program will be expanded by the $40MM requested by the Administration to fund two more of the new TNInvestco funds. Both Tennessee Angel Fund (Nashville Capital Network) and Solidus-TNInvestco had "alternate" status in the initial round, and are hoping to get $20MM tax-credit allocations each, if the program is expanded. There's apparently less reason for optimism on the parts of two other outliers: NEST-TN and Memphis Biomed Venture Tennessee. Many policymakers (among those watching the issue) seem hesitant to go beyond the $40MM sought by the Administration; and, as widely reported, a number of candidates to succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen in January have signalled caution. State Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) told VNC on Monday that she'll hold her opinion until the expansion measure hits the House Commerce committee, which she chairs. She also said that it's her sense that a "recapture" provision sought by Advantage Capital, which would revoke tax credits sold to insurance companies that invested in TNInvestco funds that failed to meet performance criteria, is essentially dead this Session. The "clawback" proposal had been fought by the Administration and others who felt it would take the wind out of TNInvestco sails. Sen. Overbey told VNC, in fact, he was concerned that the recapture threat would needlessly divert TNInvestco-generated capital into insurance payments, as fund managers sought to mollify hard-bargaining insureco investors.

PE-backed Fleet One expands in N'ville

A Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce release today said, in part, "Fleet One, LLC, a fuel card and financial service provider supporting the transportation industry, announced plans today to expand operations in Middle Tennessee. The company currently employs 190 individuals in Nashville and plans to add 49 new positions. Headquartered in Nashville, Fleet One provides fuel cards and fleet-related payment solutions to businesses and government agencies. Specifically, the company offers fuel and maintenance purchasing card controls, detailed reporting, online account management and other cost-saving services to its customers across the country. Fleet One is a division of Fleet One Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of LLR Partners and FTV Capital." Full release here.

Emdeon acquisition announced

Nashville-based Emdeon today announced its acquistion of Indianapolis-based Healthcare Technology Management Services, for cash and stock worth about $11MM. Release here.

Innova fund explains TrakLok investment

Innova Memphis' Jan Bouten, a key man in TNInvestco-capitalized Innova Fund II, found himself all-but promising Memphians that -- even though the new fund's first investment was in Knoxville-based TrakLok -- the pipeline if full of Memphis-area firms and some are likely to be winners, soon. Bouten told the Memphis Daily News the fund has received hundreds of inquiries regarding investment since the TNInvestco winners were announced in November. Bouten told the MDN he'd been following TrakLok since 2008 (probably, VNC thinks, after having been introduced to the firm through the TTDC innovation conference that year).

INVEST Tennessee event speakers

Organizers today added more speaker detail for the INVEST Tennessee event previously reported by VNC. Nashville-based Board Member Inc. President and CEO TK Kerstetter (left) will provide opening remarks.

Vanderbilt hiring leaders

In Alumni Relations, Development, Communications, Public Affairs, Drug Discovery and elsewhere about the campus, Vanderbilt University is hiring key executives and scientists. At least two national executive-search firms have been hired to shoulder the responsibility. The story's here.

Angel Capital Group spreads net

The Nashville-based Angel Capital Group has worked its way into a role providing a tributary into the dealflow pipeline that's being established by RightSide Capital Management in San Fran. ACG has also continued to build its own network of offices. Read more here. RightSide promises speedy answers for entrepreneurs seeking seed capital -- as well as "massive" due diligence that sounds like the financial equivalent of a body-cavity search.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Claritas' Brown to suceed Poston

Having secured investment from Claritas Capital, Entrada Healthcare Founder and CEO Alexander Poston will be succeeded by entrepreneur and VC associate Bill Brown, as Entrada rolls-out its medical-transcription and gateway-to-EHR offering, nationally. The VNC story's here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IT innovator leaves VC holding Linnaeus

Former Linnaeus Inc. CEO Sal Novin and a partner left that venture-backed company to build a new venture around Novin's intellectual property, embodied in Novin's Health Mason claims-paying and process-automation tool. Novin's new company is Healthcare Productivity Automation LLC (HPA). NashvillePost.com has the story. New York City-based Capital Health is the VC left owning Linnaeus, with no Novin. New York City-based Capitol Health CHP II management company CEO Joe Kelly has not returned a VNC call placed Thursday evening. The State's corporation database indicates that Novin's attorney may be Chris Sloan of Bradley Arant Bolt Cummings. Sloan is Chair-elect of the Nashville Technology Council.

Med Trade Center ripples quietly spread

Nashville Business Journal's Brandon Gee reports Nashville Medical Trade Center officials have been mum since attending the HiMSS conference, which they said they considered the kickoff for their trade-center leasing activities. Reporter Brandon Gee's contacts with spokespersons for HMS, Passport, Emdeon and others yielded noncommittal responses. Noncommittal, as in holding their cards close in the midst of lease negotiations?

Chamber announces N'ville economy uptick

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce today announced, "Since July 2009, announced relocations and expansions in the Nashville area have accounted for 6,988 jobs, 4.7 million square feet of space and nearly $1.7 billion in capital investment." In a release this morning, the Chamber included a statement from Mayor Karl Dean regarding his commitment to generating more Green jobs. State ECD Commissioner applauded the Chamber and Partnership 2010. Chamber President Ralph Schulz said P2010's new strategic plan for the decade (2010) will be out in June. Metro ECD Director Alexia Poe was also represented in the release, applauding Middle Tennessee' strong foundation.

Qualifacts' positioning

While it's interesting that Qualifacts today announced they landed New Directions Inc., in Connecticut, as a user of CareLogic... it's even more interesting that Qualifacts has found a positioning statement. The company says it's "the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of Electronic Health Record (EHR) and enterprise management systems to behavioral health and human services providers."

Harris Interactive says St. Jude is most trusted

Survey results out from Harris Interactive say St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis is the most trusted charity in America and ranked 2nd in overall brand equity. The full release is here. St. Jude is led by Bill Evans, PharmD and honorary Ph.D., who is also chairman of the board of Tennessee Technology Development Corporation.

Buffkin needs CEO for Digitally challenged client

The Buffkin Group, the Franklin executive-search firm, is looking for a very high profile, and perhaps high risk CEO to take the reins of the more-than-slightly-challenged Direct Marketing Association. The last guy was making about $800K. Hmmmm. Here's the story.

PureSafety marketing hires

Brentwood-based PureSafety announced two marketing hires, one from Passport Health and one from Spheris. Becky Sargent is senior marketing manager for the workforce safety and training management solution. Andie Sanders will manage tradeshows and events. The release is here. Privately held PureSafety is closely aligned with owners of Thompson Machinery Commerce Corp., and is chaired by Dewitt Thompson V. The company's secretary is DeWitt Thompson IV.

Applied Health plans capital raise

CEO Robert Chamberlain has some pretty big names agin' 'im: Healthways, for starters. Read the story about Applied Health Analytics move on the 'preemptive healthcare' space, right here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Solidus leads JumpStart Foundry launch

Nashville-based venture capital and private-equity manager Solidus Co. has created a new portfolio company, JumpStart Foundry LP, with about 20 co-founders. The mission: seed-stage investment. The story's here.

Cogent in pact with Seton

Brentwood-based Cogent Healthcare today announced a hospital medicine affiliation with 375-bed Seton Medical Center, located in Daly City, Calif., and the Daly City Hospitalist Medical Group, a Seton physician group, to develop a "distinctive hospitalist care delivery system." Release here.

TVA updates on

TVA says in a release today, "With solar panels and wind turbines popping up across the region, the Tennessee Valley Authority's homegrown renewable energy program, Generation Partners, now has enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of a fairly large subdivision."

UT president addresses legislative committees

University of Tennessee Interim President Jan Simek will appear today before both House and Senate budget committees. The UT link is here.

Idleaire cranking back up?

Knox-based Idleaire, which seemed to go up in a puff of smoke from investors' money, may be toying with an attempt at a comeback. The KNS reports a cryptic hint appeared on the company's website.

Oscar for TN robot in 'Hurt Locker'

As previously reported, Clinton-based Remotec's HD-1 robot played a key role in "The Hurt Locker," the riveting bomb-disarming combat movie that won an Oscar Sunday. The KNS has it.

SEC drops Wright Med scrutiny

The SEC said it has dropped its informal investigation of Wright Medical's international sales practices. The CA has it.

Memphis, Knoxville vye for Google Fiber

It's a nationwide shoot-out, and Memphis Mayor Wharton says the city will compete heartily to be a Google Fiber roll-out town. The CA has it. Here's a blogpost related to Knoxville's also trying to win Google's heart.

English-only provision debated in Gen. Assembly

Bredesen ECD and Volkswagen officials sought to quash an English-only bill covering drivers' licenses exams, arguing English-only hurts Tennessee in competing for corporate capital investment. A legislator said he felt the rebuttal came close to 'blackmail'. Andy Sher of the TFP has it.

MAU chases VW staffing business

Augusta, Ga.-based MAU Inc. is opening a Chattanooga office, in hope of replicating the success it's had with BMW in South Carolina, by providing staffing services for VW in Chattanooga. The TFP has it.

Logistics groups team for auto sector

Chattanoogan.com reports, Chattanooga-based "Kenco Logistic Services LLC (KLS), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Kal-Serv, announced that together with Schnellecke of America, LLC, it has formed Team 3 Logistics LLC. This new joint venture will offer logistic solutions to support automotive production in the Southeastern United States."

Online pet-registration venture

Boyd Tech Inc. and and EDP Biotech, based in Knoxville, are helping breeders and owners determine and register their pets' DNA and pedigree. The newest offering is DNAworldPetregistry.com - The KNS has it.

Emdeon now covered by Avondale

Avondale's Sean Jackson has initiated coverage of Emdeon, with a $19 share price. NashvillePost.com has it.

Aviation mechanics training expands

A West Memphis, Ark., community college will get an aviation-mechanics course, thanks to ARRA funding and FedEx push. The CA has it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Rockhouse to run State Fair

Start-up Rockhouse Partners will run the Tennessee State Fair this year, according to the Tennessean, online this afternoon. Rockhouse is the music- and entertainment-oriented venture launched by several alumni of Echomusic, as reported by VNC. Rockhouse principal Chrysty Fortner might be in charge, as she directs festivals for Rockhouse.

TCRS commits $50MM to LA private-equity fund

Tennessee Consolidate Retirement System today announced it has committed $50MM to Oaktree PPIP Private Fund, bringing total private-equity allocations to $225MM, under the State's year-old alternative investments initiative. The VNC story is here.

TrakLok wins $500K TNInvestco investment

[Updated 11 March] Knoxville-based TrakLok Corporation announced today it has won a $500K investment from Innova Memphis (Innova Fund II), and will use the unspecified investment to improve manufacturing, add to sales staff and generally increase awareness and sales for its GeoLok tracking and security system, making the most of increased concern about ports' security. “We have been watching TrakLok since the Tennessee Innovation Conference organized by TTDC in late 2008...," said Jan Bouten, Partner at Innova Memphis in a release. The amount of the investment was not included in the release, but TrakLok spokesman Shane Rhyne with Ackerman PR provided the $500K figure. Innova's Bouten subsequently told VNC the amount was played-down to keep as much attention as possible on TrakLok. The CA has it and the KNS has a story too.

Provectus gets $5.3MM in PE transaction

[Updated March 12] Knoxville-based Provectus Pharmaceuticals will net about $5.3 MM after a private placement transaction, the company announced today. The company specializes in oncology and dermatological therapies. The release is here. In a March 12 release, Provectus said it expects to gross about $7.9 million on the transaction.

Kroll parent may go to buyers

NashvillePost spotted the FT's early word that Marsh & McLennan may sell Kroll, which has a Nashville-based background-investigations unit that was originally founded by entrepreneur Mike Shmerling.

KaiNexus uses VUMC technology for CQI

A Vanderbilt University technology-transfer and commercialization portfolio company -- KaiNexus, based in Dallas -- is using portal and project management IP developed at VU Medical Center, to improve health care organizations' performance, efficiency and quality of care. Today's VNC story is here.

Cool your jets, TNInvestco Tribe

In today's slightly charged atmosphere around TNInvestco, it doesn't take much to set tongues a-waggin'. A General Assembly placeholder caption bill created a mild stir this week, with language suggesting further attempts to conceal information of interest to entrepreneurs and investors. The reality is quite different. The brief VNC story is here.

NASA Astronaut in Memphis

Astronaut and engineer Bonnie Dunbar spoke this week to a women's-advancement group at Medtronic, and touched on the future of human spaceflight. The Obama Administration has proposed commercializing the flights. The MDN reports it.

Update on Mid-TN syngas facility

Freelancer Larisa Brass provides an update on the ClearFuels syngas biomass plant emerging 110 miles southwest of Nashville. The KNS has Brass' report.

Pricing with gain-sharing

Columnist John Riddell of the CEG-Hamilton County, writing for the Times Free Press, discusses gain-sharing as a component of pricing of professional services.

Luminetx sales deal

The CA reported Memphis-based Luminetx's new national sales-distribution deal with Alliance Medical, which has 70 U.S. sales reps, and which claims to be the largest consortium of specialty medical sales distribution companies for intravenous devices. Luminetx is now a division of Christie Medical Holdings. The press release is here.

Memphis happy to have Blues

The CA provides an update on the resurrection of the Blues Foundation.

Supercomputing hours awarded

DOE awarded researchers 1.6 Billion hours supercomputer processor time, via Oak Ridge and Argonne NL's. KNS columnist Frank Munger examines the uses of all that time.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Nashville Capital Network adds sponsors

Nashville Capital Network (NCN) announced new and up-classed sponsors: Decosimo Certified Public Accountants and Decosimo Corporate Finance have joined NCN as Underwriters. Also, according to a release, NCN supporters Nashville Health Care Council, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, and W Squared have upgraded to the highest level, according to a release issued for Sid Chambless, NCN executive director, by Hall Strategies, the PR firm. The release is here.

American Sentinel announced $9MM PE transaction

Nashville- and Vanderbilt University-linked American Sentinel University announced a $9 million growth equity investment. VNC reported on ASU's D-round earlier. Capstone Partners LLC (Boston) acted as sole placement agent in the transaction, in which the University issued $9.0 million of new Preferred Stock. American Sentinel University, founded as a Vanderbilt University Technology Company, is an online university. Capstone's release is here.

Scripps e-Content guru steps down

Knoxville-based Rusty Coats (at left), formerly vice president of E.W. Scripps newspapers, a post he'd held less than a year, resigned from the post, effective today. He said in a statement, in part, "After more than 20 years with newspapers - 15 of them on the interactive side - I would like to explore the broader interactive world. There is a lot of innovation happening in the interactive space - some in newspapers, some outside. I want to see what's outside without viewing it through a familiar lens," Coats said in a statement." Coats was vice president of interactive for the newspaper division of Scripps prior to his current role, joining the company in August 2008. The KNS has the story. KNS icon Jack Lail wrote about Coats' interactive content philosophy in an earlier blogpost.

FedEx alumni fail in VC cap raise

Ken May, a former CEO of FedEx Office, and Bill Doherty, who oversaw the eastern U.S. for FedEx Office, have, according to Saturday's Commercial Appeal, sold their interests in Memphis-based online auction site Bidtopia.com, after failing to attract more TCs for the venture's expansion. Parent company Warehouse86 principal Paul St. James said bidtopia.com and sister Web site bargainland.net will be operated by a new parent company, SellerTech. The CA has it.

Surgical robots do battle

In Chattanooga, the Times Free Press reports on the "arms race" driving increased use of surgical robots, with focus on the da Vinci system. Related TFP article here. Closer to home, VNC reported earlier on Pathfinder Therapeutics.

CA exec on data centers at N'ville event

CA Inc. VP for virtualization and service automation Stephen Elliott will speak on self-service data center initiatives during an event in Nashville, March 10. Release here.

NYT: Software has evolved dramatically

The New York Times reports on the evolution of software from enterprise technology toward consumer- and media-centric products. Important read, we think, here.

Consensus Point plans update

With a new strategic marketing alliance and a capital raise about to launch, we touch base with Consensus Point CEO Linda Rebrovick, for news on the predictive markets SaaS provider. The story's here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Vanguard hires former VUMC marketing chief

Charlie Martin's Vanguard Health Systems has hired former VU Medical Center marketing chief Joel Lee, who was associate vice chancellor during the administration of Vice Chancellor Harry Jacobson. Vanguard EVP Brad Perkins told NashvillePost.com that Lee will focus on leveraging internal and external marketing communications and public affairs, to make those fields "core competencies." Another story on The Martin Companies, here.

Snowflake emerges from Luminetx fall

Snowflake, formerly the division of Memphis-based Luminetx that was adapting VeinViewer technology for security purposes, is formalizing its corporate independence. Erstwhile Luminetx CEO Jim Phillips is back onboard, and will apparently be raising capital for the newly independent venture. The Memphis Daily News reports. Among Snowflake's board members is Brad Silver, CEO of Computable Genomix, which is also raising capital. Silver was, himself, formerly with Luminetx, having been recruited there by Phillips. Related Luminetx posts here.

Alstom cranks-up in Chattanooga

Alstom Power Turbomachines CEO Stephane Cai (left) says Alstom is ontrack to begin some production in June, and has hired 176 workers, already. The TFP has it.

MedSolutions names CMO

Franklin-based MedSolutions, a provider of medical cost-management services, with emphasis on imaging and diagnostic error prevention, announced it has named Alan Henry, M.D. (left) its chief medical officer for the company's Premerus Diagnostic Accuracy program. He is a principle in 2-View, LLC, a medical device company, and founded Opus Clinical Research, a contract research organization. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he earned his MBA from Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business and his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. He is a former president and board member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, a member of the American College of Surgeons, and a member of the American College of Radiology's stereotactic breast biopsy credentialing committee. He has served as president of Breast Care Specialists of Virginia since 1996. Earlier in his medical career, he developed the Carilion Breast Care Center in Roanoke, Va..

VW COO eyes hybrids

Volkswagen of America's COO discusses VW's interest in "fuel-sipping" diesel hybrids, and notes it's too early to tell whether they'll be produced in Chattanooga. The TFP has it.

Coopwood sees 'competitive' Med Center

Memphis Regional Med Center CEO Dr. Reginald Coopwood says he may propose eliminating copays and deductibles for Shelby County employees who choose to have procedures done at The Med. He said the idea worked wonders during his term as CEO of Nashville General Hospital. The CA has it.

'Race to the Top' update

Tennessee is one of 16 finalists in the federal 'Race to the Top' education-reform funding program. The state has asked for more than $500MM. WPLN Nashville Public Radio has it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Coleman may appeal TNInvestco ruling

[Updated 11:29 a.m.] A story from The Associated Press published today in the Knoxville News Sentinel says Franklin VC Larry Coleman may appeal Chancellor Russell Perkins' ruling against him in his effort to get access to State documents detailing the process by which TNInvestco winning firms were chosen by ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber and Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. Mark Drury, responding for the commissioners, told VNC the State would have no comment on Coleman's reported plans to appeal. A representative of Coleman confirmed for VNC that Coleman intends to appeal. Such an appeal cannot be filed until after Chancellor Perkins issues his actual order in the case, which is being prepared by attorneys. That order is not likely to come until next week.

UTC SimCenter commercialization

UT-Chattanooga is coping with budget shortfalls, in part, by commercializing the research services of its renowned National SimCenter's computational engineering services. The TFP reports.

Chattanooga beat N'ville out of Recession

Moody's Economy.com says Chattanooga was out of the Great Recession by the end of 2009, but not so Nashville and Knoxville. The TFP reports it.

Austrian firm opens Chattanooga facility

Austrian-flagged Fronius U.S.A., division of Fronius International, opened a 5,000 sq. ft. sales and services office in Chattanooga. Fronius is in the fields of battery-charging systems, photovoltaics and welding technology.

TTDC stakeholders throng Legislators

Twenty-one organizations joined Tennessee Technology Development Corporation this week in exhibiting their products and services on tabletops lining the main corridor of Legislative Plaza. Most of the companies seemed to be in capital-raising mode. TTDC will soon face its fate, as the annual process proceeds. The story's here. The list of 21 exhibitors is here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

TN top in SEast in Site Selection ranking

Tennessee has won 5th place in the annual Site Selection magazine rankings of states, based on capital-investment victories. That puts TN ahead of North Carolina and other Southeastern States. The magazine story is here.

Spence Wilson 'Master' entrepreneur

Spence Wilson (left), principal and president of Kemmons Wilson Companies, which has more than 400 investments in businesses, will be honored by the Memphis Society of Entrepreneurs as a Master entrepreneur. Wilson Companies was founded by patriarch Kemmons Wilson, who founded Holiday Inns, among other ventures. The CA has the story.

Eastate broadband contract $9MM

East Tennessee institutions and broadband providers will get a boost, as a result of a $9.4 million Stimulus fund award to Huntsville-based Deltacom Inc., which will improve the region's infrastructure. The release is here.

TN venture's Afghan contract

Maryville-based Critical Mission Support Services (CMSS), a turnkey service provider supporting global projects with construction, life support, demining, logistics/procurement, security and IT communications services, won a $10MM contract from Joint Contracting Command, Afghanistan.

EPB, partner eye Smart Grid

Chattanooga-based EPB, which is plowing new ground with competitive fiber-to-the-home, cable TV and Smart Grid initiatives, is exploring a partnership with the Cleveland, Tenn., public utilities board. The TFP has it.

Oak Ridge HS tops in Science, again

Oak Ridge High School won the Tennessee Science Bowl for the 3rd consecutive year and will soon represent the state in the National Science Bowl. KNS story here.

Job tax credit 'not worth time'

The new U.S. Work Opportunity Tax Credit making its way through Congress just 'isn't worth the time' for small business, which would realize about $1,800 on a $30K-salaried employee. The MDN has it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

TNInvestco court ruling supports State over VC

In the TNInvestco decision handed down by Chancellor Russell Perkins this afternoon, State Commissioners Reagan Farr (Revenue) and Matt Kisber (ECD) bested petitioner Larry Coleman, a venture capitalist who sought to obtain records used in picking TNInvestco winners, in the state's new capital formation program. VNC's story is here. The State's records will stay confidential.

Cybera extends security

Cybera®, the Franklin networking and security-services provider for distributed enterprises, today announced the national launch of SECURE|WAVE, its wireless intrusion detection service (SaaS) that identifies threats and vulnerabilities by analyzing wireless network traffic. Earlier this year, Cybera launched SECURE|Link, to help protect Cloud operations.

Mixed pic on TN biofuels

East Tennessee's Nu-Energie is being sold on the auction block, just as the State is investing in helping ClearFuels' refinery in Collinwood get started. ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber says the situations are apples and organes, with ClearFuels part of a larger ongoing biofuels enterprise. WPLN Nashville Public Radio reports it.

SimCenter scientist links to Bloom Energy

UT-Chattanooga National SimCenter faculty member Henry McDonald played a role in a West Coast entrepreneur's securing federal funding for his Bloom Energy technology, which many hope will lead to a Bloom investment in Tennessee. The KNS' Larisa Brass has it.

Tennesseans face exascale challenges

UT's Jack Dongarra and Oak Ridge NL's Thomas Zacharia are among TN-based scientists participating in an international effort to improve software development for exascale computers expected to arrive by 2019, with computing power 1,000 times faster than any current computer. Computerworld reports it.

Memphis CA's garage-sale app

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has launched an iPhone garage sale-finding application. The story's here.

Knox County bizplan competition

March 11 is the deadline for entries in the Fairview Technology Center Business Plan competition in Knox County. Details here. The Tech Center is owned by the county and run by a development organization, with assist from Tech2020.

Oak Ridge economic development

Citing 'dire need' for industrial development, Oak Ridge officials have done a small marketing deal with the Oak Ridge Economic Partnership to market some property. The KNS has it.

Chattanoogans' barter exchange

Chattanoogans short of cash are turning to IMS' barter exchange for what they need. The TFP reports it.

Tech corp in Legislative Plaza

Today, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation constituents are taking to the halls of Legislative Plaza, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Twenty-one companies are registered to mount table-top displays in the corridors, from which venues they intend to spread the word among legislators and staff members about their ventures and about TTDC. The event is timed to coordinate with the budget debate, through which TTDC hopes to become a recurring budget item, and receive up to $5MM per year.

Monday, March 01, 2010

TNInvestco lawsuit status

[2:18 p.m.] Although anticipated yet this afternoon, a ruling from Chancellor Russell Perkins in the lawsuit of Larry Coleman vs State Commissioners Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr, centering around Coleman's demand for access to TNInvestco documents the commissioners are treating as lawfully confidential, has not yet been received. This blog and the VNC website will be updated, as new developments occur. Related story, here.

TeamHealth thrives with PE players, IPO

Josh Flory of the KNS provides a great backgrounder on how TeamHealth, the hospital staffing company built in Knoxville the past 31 years, lived and thrived with private-equity investors, despite hurdles, and then went public in December. PE players have included Blackstone Group and affiliates of Madison Dearborn Partners, Cornerstone Equity Investors LLC and Beecken Petty O'Keefe & Company. TeamHealth is still trying to paydown massive debt incurred under the PE investors. The KNS story is here.

Memphis Trade Club exec named

Moriah McStay Lee has been named the very first executive director of the Memphis World Trade Club. The Club's chairman is lawyer Cannon Allen Sr. of Adams & Reese. The Memphis Daily News has the story.

Claritas Capital tells Montgomery's duties

Claritas Capital has confirmed Mark Montgomery's role as entrepreneur in residence, and provides some detail on his duties. The story is here.

RightSide seed-cap model examined

Nashville and Tennessee VCs offer their opinions on RightSide Capital Management's plan to invest in more than 100 companies a year, without personally interrogating entrepreneurs and their plans. The story's here.

VU scientists earn

Vanderbilt University Physicist Andreas Berlind and geneticist Marylyn Ritchie have each won two-year, $50,000 research fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that are intended to encourage promising young scholars. Berlind "collects universes," and Ritchie is a researcher in the Vanderbilt Institute for Human Genetics Research, using informatics and computational methods to study ways to fight disease. The VU release is here.

HMS Connex touted

Venture-backed Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) announced today the launch of HMS Connex, an interoperability product for exchange of clinical data between third-party systems, health information exchanges, and public registries. The announcement coincides with a major HiMSS exhibition, in Atlanta. The release is here.