Combine the innovation of “Shark Tank,” the head-to-head competition of WWE, and East Tennessee’s renowned community engagement, and what do you get? Knoxville’s own Innov865 Week.

Innov865 Week is the annual celebration of our region’s thriving entrepreneurial community, kicking off Sept. 23 - 28, at The Mill & The Mine downtown. Knoxville is quickly becoming known as a Maker City, as our economy booms with local businesses, goods, arts, and experiences you can’t find anywhere else. Innov865 Week brings together startups, investors, students, business leaders, and the East Tennessee community to shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurship at the heart of our Maker City and the innovations to come.

The week has something for everyone: 

  • Sept. 23: Interested in learning how to grow a successful business? Come to The Maker City Summit 2018 to learn from investors, experts, and your peers.
  • Sept. 24: A wanna-be social media wiz? Learn the ins and outs of social media with Facebook, Google, and YouTube’s former head of marketing.
  • Sept. 25: Root – and vote! – for your favorite startup and load up on free swag at Startup Day’s pitch competition.
  • Sept. 26: Ready for happy hour? Cheers at the Elkmont Exchange during Innovation in the Liberal Arts with Maryville College.
  • Sept. 27: Learn about the latest in design and innovation at the SHYFT conference, or head over to the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator’s Open House. In the evening, join “Beer & Biotech” with Life Science Tennessee.

In a busy week, it’s Startup Day, Innov865 Week’s signature event, that can’t be missed.

Join the fun on Sept. 25, when six East Tennessee startups will compete for $10,000 in cash prizes. The competitors were chosen from a large pool of applicants to pitch their businesses before a panel of investor judges for two prize categories: judge’s choice and crowd favorite (where your vote counts!). 

Competition will be steep. The startup finalists include:

  • BrewFund, Inc., which creates a new revenue stream for craft beer taprooms through an innovative engagement platform.
  • GeoAir, a proactive agricultural analysis company that seeks to make farmers more efficient and profitable, utilizing a custom-developed drone to pinpoint and identify mold in fields before damage occurs to the crop.
  • Lux Semiconductors, an advanced-tech startup developing high-quality and low-cost semiconductor substrates for the rapidly evolving electronics industry.
  • Nth Cycle, which has developed an electrochemical recycling device to recover rare earth and specialty elements from end-of-life electronics waste streams for reuse in advanced manufacturing.
  • Real Good Kitchen, a community kitchen and culinary incubator planned to open in Knoxville in 2019 for established and emerging food entrepreneurs.
  • StoragePug, a modern marketing company connecting customers to self storage, powered by scalable cloud and serverless computing.

In addition, a Startup Day alum that has gone on to achieve big things will win the 2018 Traction Award, presented by UT Federal Credit Union.

Come and learn from Startup Day’s featured speaker, CEO of Venture For America Amy Nelson. VFA is a nonprofit organization that builds new businesses and economic growth by connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with jobs at startups around the country, forging a community of entrepreneurs and ecosystem of support. Nelson specializes in fostering aspiring entrepreneurs and lowering the barriers to building new companies.

Just as earthworms measure the health of soil, the health of a city or community can be measured by its entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship is about more than just economic development – it’s the evolution of technology, culture, and our society. In other words, Knoxville’s entrepreneurial community is thriving because Knoxville is thriving. New business and top talent are investing here because Knoxville is a vibrant, exciting place to plant roots.

Join in our community’s celebration of its thriving spirit at Innov865 Week. Every event is free and open to the public. For the full Startup Day line-up and the entire week’s schedule, check out the Innov865 Week calendar of events.