Startups accelerator Techstars hopes a new Tennessee program will help create the next tech hub

knoxville tn
Knoxville, TN

  • Startup accelerator Techstars is launching a program in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • It will select 10 startups building emerging technologies to give funding and support.
  • Techstars general manager Nancy Wolff hopes the program will bring more attention to the state.
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The future of tech might just be in Tennessee.

Techstars, a prominent startup accelerator, announced it is launching an initiative in Knoxville, Tennessee in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee. The accelerator, named “Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator,” will choose 10 startups focused on building innovative emerging technology.

“We need to fuel scientists and engineers and technology solutions that are going to make society better in the future,” Techstars general manager Nancy Wolff said.

Some examples of emerging technology include artificial intelligence, clean energy technology, and quantum information science, which Wolff said she’s particularly excited about.

The cohort will receive a $20,000 investment and an optional $100,000 convertible note, or debt that turns into equity, typically in future financing rounds. Over a three-month period, the cohort will have access to invaluable resources like the scientists at University of Tennessee and the supercomputing facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, according to Wolfe. The program will culminate in a “demo day,” where the startups present their business to potential investors.

Tennessee’s tech scene has attracted more attention lately, with behemoths like Amazon and Oracle building offices in Nashville. Adam Singer, VP of marketing at LEX, tweeted that the city had quietly built “one of the low key most fun startup cultures in America.”

Wolff said she hopes the new accelerator can be a “catalyst” to bring more startups to East Tennessee.

“Innovators attract other innovators,” she said.

Applications for the inaugural cohort will open July 19.