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By Updated: March 07, 2019 12:13 AM CT | Published: March 05, 2019 2:50 PM CT
  • AgLaunch Initiative earns $50,000 award for work at Agricenter
  • Applications open for Summer of Acceleration
  • First Tennessee partners with BrightBridge on capital access
  • Fourth Bluff launches open call for community grants
  • Carolina Watershed launching adult sports league
  • Fogelman College to offer five-day business program for high school students 
  • Arlington Animal Clinic to move locations 

AgLaunch Initiative earns $50,000 award for work at Agricenter

Memphis-based nonprofit AgLaunch Initiative has received a $50,000 award from the Wells Fargo Foundation as part of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center also is a partner in IN2.

AgLaunch Initiative received the IN2 Channel Partner Award for its efforts to advance sustainable technology solutions that can improve efficiency in agriculture and is one of just 13 organizations nationally to receive the award this year.

Launched in 2014, IN2 is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies in commercial buildings and in the agriculture sector. IN2 created a network of “Channel Partners” – a nationwide system of incubators, accelerators and university programs that refer startup companies to the program.

The Channel Partner Awards Program will disburse $1 million in competitive grants across the 13 recipient organizations to help advance sustainable technology solutions that can spur new collaborations, capital flow and job creation.

The AgLaunch award will be used to develop a “digital acre” platform at Agricenter International to provide baseline data and visibility to students and stakeholders and will serve as the hub for the AgLaunch Farmer Network across the five-state Mid-South Delta region. It will help AgLaunch and Agricenter provide a higher level of support to agtech startup companies incubated through the Farmer Network and create additional collaborations with the Danforth Center.

The work will be highlighted through a series of farm-based field days.

“We are excited to partner with IN2, NREL and the Danforth Center to enhance the capabilities of our farm-centric innovation model,” Pete Nelson, executive director of AgLaunch, said in a release. “Our network of farmers and inventive agtech entrepreneurs will see greater acceleration of their efforts because of this award.”

Since 2017, the IN2 Channel Partners Program has distributed approximately $2.1 million in competitive and noncompetitive grants in support of more than 74 events, meetings and training as well as 21 larger strategic initiatives between 23 organizations.

-Daily Memphian staff


Applications open for Summer of Acceleration

Start Co., Epicenter and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation's startup company accelerator collaboration is now accepting applications. The deadline is March 15. 

Programming will launch May 6 and culminate with Demo Day on Aug. 15, where startup teams will pitch their concepts to investors, share their insights and network. All teams will co-locate at Start Co. during the summer.

The fourth annual Summer of Acceleration includes hands-on, intensive education concentrated in four regional industries: “smart city,” medical device, supply chain and logistics and home services. Start Co. will provide centralized programming for core accelerator curriculum (like business models and customer discovery) and each accelerator will provide its cohort companies with industry-specific programming and connections to mentors and potential customers. The participating companies will also be connected, via Epicenter, to an angel investor community and executives-in-residence.

 The 2019 Summer of Acceleration accelerators are:

  • ServiceMaster and Start Co.’s Launch Delta Home Services Accelerator, for tech-based startups working to disrupt or replace existing home services technologies.
  • City of Memphis information services team and Innovate Memphis’ Sky High Civic Technology Accelerator, for civic and smart city tech-based startups to solve problems and create efficiency in transportation, crime and public safety.  
  • Start Co. and Epicenter’s Sparkgap Logistics Accelerator, for startups providing logistics solutions in intelligent packaging, supply chain visibility and supply chain data analytics.
  • Memphis Bioworks Foundation‘s ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator, for startups developing and commercializing medical device innovations. 

Female founders can also opt for Start Co.’s parallel Upstart track, which provides networking and mentorship opportunities.

-Elle Perry


First Tennessee partners with BrightBridge on capital access

First Tennessee Bank will invest $500,000 to provide access to capital for startups and small businesses.

The company has partnered with Chattanooga-based BrightBridge Inc., whose mission is to reduce barriers to business growth by customizing loan packages and advisory services. BrightBridge’s goal is to increase employment opportunities and foster the expansion of business and industry in Tennessee and surrounding states.

“BrightBridge aims to accelerate startup and business growth,” BrightBridge chief operating officer Bill Pollard said in a release. “The $500,000 commitment from First Tennessee will open even more doors for startup and small businesses in the region. First Tennessee understands and values the opportunities small business provides to our communities. Their investment allows us to do the work that will have long-term, positive impacts in our community.” 

First Tennessee’s investment is part of its Community Benefits Plan to broaden access to financial resources and strengthen economic development in communities in its footprint.

“At First Tennessee Bank, we know access to capital can expand small businesses and drive innovation,” said Jay Dale, First Tennessee Chattanooga market president. “Our partnership with BrightBridge helps entrepreneurs overcome some of the barriers of traditional financing.”

The goals of the partnership include:

  • Closing commercial lending gaps
  • Building strong partnerships with lenders and peer organizations
  • Fostering community understanding and engagement
  • Creating measurable impact
  • Supporting environmental sustainability

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. is the parent company of First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank.  

-Daily Memphian staff


Fourth Bluff launches open call for community grants

The Fourth Bluff Collaborative is seeking Memphians with ideas for $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 "Fuel the Fourth Bluff" grants. The proposed ideas or programs must take place within the Memphis Civic Commons footprint, a six-block area stretching from Main Street to Mud Island and from Jefferson Avenue to Monroe Avenue, and must advance either civic engagement, value creation, socio-economic mixing or environmental sustainability.

Applications are due March 18. Public Q&As will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at South Main Artspace Lofts and at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at 409 S. Main.

The four listed goals are the aims of Reimagining Civic Commons, a national initiative. Memphis was one of five cities to have received $4 million from the Kresge, Knight, JPB and Rockefeller foundations to reinvest in shared public assets. Those funds have supported River Garden, River Line, the work underway at the Cossitt Library, and programs including RiverPlay and the Fourth Bluff Ice Rink. “Fuel the Fourth Bluff” projects will be funded with a total of $100,000.

The public, including residents, artists, community leaders, activists, organizations and businesses, are encouraged to apply for the grants. Those with questions can email Shamichael Hamilton, the Cossitt Library manager leading the grant process.

-Elle Perry


Carolina Watershed launching adult sports league

Carolina Watershed, located at 141 E. Carolina Ave., will launch a free adult sports league on Friday, March 22.

A sodded area adjacent to the restaurant, dubbed Carolina Field, will house the Memphis Adult Sports League. Participants will eventually be able to compete in 20 sports including soccer, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, horseshoes, badminton and cornhole. They will be assigned to seven teams based on where they live. 

The Downtown restaurant is partnering with Grind City Athletics to help with scheduling and results tracking, because although the league is intended for recreation, the restaurant wants to provide the data for the more competitive competitors.

Surveys will help choose the games that will be offered first. Games are planned to be offered Friday through Sunday of each weekend, beginning March 22, until the championship weekend that begins June 1. More information is available here.

-Elle Perry


Fogelman College to offer five-day business program for high school students 

The University of Memphis’ Fogelman College of Business & Economics will offer a comprehensive five-day business program for Shelby County Schools high school students who will be juniors and seniors in fall 2019 as part of the college’s Summer Business Institute.

The pre-college program is an initiative created by Dr. Marla Stafford, interim dean of the Fogelman College, and is supported by the Peer Power Foundation. The program is the first offering for high school students at Fogelman, and will run from June 24-28, according to a release.

“We want to begin closing the gap between high school and college for students, make the transition easier, and inspire and show them the resources in Memphis such as our business concentrations, career paths, networking, entrepreneurship, emerging technology and a glimpse of U of M campus life,” Stafford said in a release. “These selected students will understand the opportunity when they spend the five days on real-world business issues and then see their name on a business card.”

Students can apply for the program by clicking here, and can apply through June 3 or until spaces have been filled. Applications are reviewed and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost to those students accepted is $50.

For more information, email fcbe-sbi@memphis.edu or click here

-Natalie Martin


Arlington Animal Clinic to move locations 

A $1.3 million permit has been filed for the construction of a new location of Arlington Animal Clinic.

The new 7,000-square-foot clinic will be be located at 6010 Arlington Airline Road, and will be the new home of the existing Arlington Animal Clinic on 11891 Highway 70, said Arlington Animal Clinic veterinarian, Dr. Monica Schoknecht.

"We purchased the new land on Airline in 2014, and are planning to build a brand new free-standing 7,000-square-foot Animal Clinic this year if all goes well,” Schoknecht said.

Douglas Smeiker is the engineer of this project, according to the permit.

-Natalie Martin

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