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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Meet the six finalists who’ve earned a spot to compete for up to a $25,000 cash prize in the 2016 Tennessee Venture Challenge grand finale (TVC), April 6th at The Foundry from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.. TVC is a business plan competition, hosted by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF), where University-affiliated startup companies pitch their business model to a panel of seasoned investors.

“You won’t want to miss this year’s competition,” said Dr. David Millhorn, University of Tennessee Executive Vice President and President of UTRF. “We are pleased to support this exciting group of entrepreneurs moving inventions from University of Tennessee classrooms and laboratories into the commercial marketplace.”

Audience members will have the opportunity to text in their vote for the crowd favorite, thanks to Launch Tennessee sponsoring the $5,000 crowd favorite cash prize. A panel of investors will select an overall winner, that team will receive a $20,000 cash prize.

TVC 2016 preparation began in early February with a seven-week entrepreneurial boot camp that helped inventors define their market and refine their pitch. At the end of the seven-week series, eight potential startups competed in the TVC semifinals. During the semifinals, the field was narrowed to the six teams that will compete in the final event.

The six companies advancing to the finals are:


CZ Nutrition_Champion FuelTeam: CZ Nutrition

Product: Protein Drink

Dr. Qixin Zhong, professor with the University of Tennessee Department of Food and Science Technology, has invented a technology to produce clear protein drinks that are easy on the palette, rich in nutrients and sugar free.

FarmSpecTeam: Farm Specific Technology

Product: Flex Roller Crimper

Jackson-based Farm Specific Technology (FarmSpec) team lead Shawn Butler, a graduate research assistant at UT’s West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, along with team members Austin Scott and Daniel Wiggins, are working together to patent the Flex Roller Crimper, a flexible twist on a piece of farm equipment used to manage cover crops and get rid of pesky weeds.


T&TTeam: T&T Scientific Corporation

Product: Cell Membrane Measurement System

University of Tennessee students Graham Taylor, a PhD student in biomedical engineering, and Nima Tamadonni, a PhD student in mechanical engineering, are leveraging their experience in the laboratory setting to help researchers in bio-engineering, electrophysiology, biophysics and molecular pathology increase efficiency.


PeroxygenTeam: Peroxygen Systems, Inc.

Product: Onsite Hydrogen Peroxide Production

Ming Qi, a former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee, is changing the cumbersome hydrogen peroxide production and delivery process, making it not only energy efficient but cost effective. Hydrogen peroxide is used for its oxidizing properties, working as a bleaching agent and as a disinfectant against bacteria, viruses, spores and yeasts.


TechsmarrtTeam: TechSmarrt

Product: Data Analysis Software Specializing in Structural Information Extraction

A team of doctoral candidates at the University of Tennessee Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education have cracked the code that cuts research time for scientists analyzing materials. Led by Akinola Oyedele, TechSmarrt software provides a turn key solution for researchers to identify and understand the properties of new and existing materials.


Iono PharmaTeam: Iono Pharma

Product: Transdermal Microemulsion Nanotechnology for Iodine Deficiency

Dr. Hassan Almoazen, Director of the PhD program in Pharmaceutical Sciences and the dual degree PharmD/PhD program at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy in Memphis, has developed a new approach (patent pending) to deliver iodide ion to millions of children worldwide. He envisions the product to be marketed as an over the counter and without a prescription. Without sufficient iodine in the body’s system, mental retardation and developmental growth delay can occur. 

About The Tennessee Venture Challenge

The Tennessee Venture Challenge is hosted by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation as is a business plan competition for the University of Tennessee community. To be eligible for the competition, potential startup companies must be commercializing intellectual property created at a UT campus or institute.


2016 TVC Winners

Meet the 2016 TVC Semi-finalist Judges