Category Archives: News Releases

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Partners to Build Research, Entrepreneurship, and Commercialization in Biosciences

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (November 13, 2017) – The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, and TriMetis Life Sciences today announced the establishment of a partnership focused on research, discovery, entrepreneurship, and commercialization in biosciences and technology at the university. At the heart of the partnership are the joint university appointments of Steve Bares, PhD, president and executive director of Memphis Bioworks, to focus on building research through entrepreneurial endeavors, and Phil Cestaro, president and CEO of TriMetis Life Sciences, to focus on building research through business development in the private sector.

“Research and discovery that can lead to new products in the health sciences are critical parts of the UTHSC mission,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at UTHSC. “This new partnership with established experts in commercialization, business development, industry relationships and capital investments will help us better develop the path from research to commercial success.”

UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, echoed Dr. Brown’s comments. “We expect this partnership to facilitate the movement of research discoveries to marketable products,” he said.

The partnership will leverage the proven strengths of Memphis Bioworks and its subsidiary organizations and programs, TriMetis Life Sciences, ZeroTo510, and INNOVA, to the benefit of the research, discovery, and potential business development out of UTHSC.

In his new appointment as associate vice chancellor, Research and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Bares will work with the organization to help build out the pathway to entrepreneurism, with a focus on both capitalizing on existing research by professors and students, and setting a foundation for future research and discovery. He will also, through targeted programming, expand access and expose UTHSC faculty to experienced educators and researchers, who have successfully translated discoveries in academia to commercial ventures.

“UTHSC has the potential to be a national model for research commercialization, directly connecting research to economic impact in the community,” Dr. Bares said. “Expanding the interplay between research and commercialization will focus on both taking research to market and on attracting additional faculty and research that is drawn to a successful commercialization model. My goal with this appointment is to help faculty get more of their research out of their lab, which can attract additional research and talent, which can lead to national recognition and investment for the university.”

In his appointment as associate vice chancellor, Research and Business Development, Cestaro will focus on the development of external research opportunities with pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies, matching the UTHSC strengths, resources, services, and technologies to those outside the organization, and exposing UTHSC to the world. Cestaro will also assist the University of Tennessee Research Foundation with the management of the statewide Clinical Trials Network of Tennessee.

“Exposing these research capabilities to the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries provides the services, expertise, and business acumen to position our organizations nationally,” Cestaro said.

“This is an exciting time for UTHSC research and innovation,” said Steve Goodman, PhD, UTHSC vice chancellor for Research. “We are growing basic, clinical, and translational biomedical research, which has as its central goal the production of better therapies and cures for human disease. The addition of Steve Bares and Phil Cestaro to the Office of Research Leadership Team allows us to enhance the UTHSC entrepreneurial culture that leads faculty to appreciate how to translate their important discoveries to innovative therapeutics and devices.”

UTHSC to Lease TriMetis’ State-of-the-Art GLP Facility

In addition to the joint appointments of Dr. Bares and Cestaro to UTHSC, the relationship is further developed with the lease of the TriMetis Laboratory facility by UTHSC. In the arrangement between TriMetis and UTHSC, TriMetis is leasing the building to UTHSC and UTHSC is providing space back to TriMetis for its current and future business.

“TriMetis and UTHSC have been working together for more than four years, and this only enhances our relationship. It is ideal for TriMetis. We are able to continue to provide and enhance the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and non-GLP research services to our customers, strengthen our ties with the university and, at the same time, provide the university access to capacity in the facility,” Cestaro said. “This type of arrangement is exactly what was envisioned with the construction of the TriMetis facility. It also enables the TriMetis sales team to not only recruit business appropriate to TriMetis, but to expand our offerings to include research and services available through UTHSC.”

According to Dr. Bares, this expanded relationship with UTHSC is just one example of Bioworks’ focus on expanding relationships that further integrate its areas of expertise with institutions of higher education locally and across the country, with the business community, and with the medical community.

About the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of UTHSC is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate and selected baccalaureate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains cohorts of medicine, pharmacy and/or health professions students — in addition to medical residents and fellows — at its major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. Founded in 1911, during its more than 100 years, UT Health Science Center has educated and trained more than 57,000 health care professionals in academic settings and health care facilities across the state. Visit

About TriMetis

TriMetis is a preclinical services company helping medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies and academic institutions advance their research through specialty laboratory and consultation services. In addition to its state-of-the-art GLP laboratory, TriMetis provides access to consulting services and human bio specimens to support research. Its consultants have extensive expertise in clinical and pre-clinical research, business strategy and development, medical writing, protocol development, quality assurance and training, and project management services. Visit

AgLaunch365 Announces New Startups In Farm-Centric Platform

Three Teams in Phase I of AgLaunch365 Will Focus on Customer Discovery and Business Model Development; Phase II Applications Due November 15

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (November 2, 2017) —  AgLaunch365 has accepted three new agtech startups into Phase I of its farm-centric innovation platform. AgLaunch365 provides startups with the tools needed to integrate with farmers to create and implement sophisticated field trial protocols and prepare for funding by aligned capital sources. Phase I teams will receive intensive business development support and customer discovery assistance. Teams will have access to leading accelerator programming, the AgLaunch Farmer Network, the Cultivator Mentor Network, and to AgLaunch’s partnership with Farm Journal Media, among a range of other services.

This 6-week program will be delivered through remote programming and in-person sessions held in Memphis. It will culminate at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo in Indianapolis December 11-13, 2017 (

“We are excited to support these three innovative teams who are committed to solving problems for the agriculture industry,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch. “Following the Phase I business development and customer discovery, these entrepreneurs will be better prepared to launch their products in the field with our extensive group of farmers during 2018.”

Phase I teams are:

  • DryMAX, based in Minnesota, is commercializing a low-energy, low-heat radio wave process for drying grain that keeps grain integrity and maximizes nutrition delivery. (
  • EarthSense, based in Illinois, has developed TerraSentia, an ultra-compact, autonomous, easy-to-use robot with multiple sensors and embedded data collection and analytics software for plant phenotyping. They are working with the seed industry and crop R&D partners to test and optimize TerraSentia. (
  • Rabbit Tractors, based in Indiana, is developing an autonomous, mobile, multi-purposed, swarm-capable and high-ground clearance farm-production tractor for all pre-harvest activities. (

“Tennessee and the surrounding Mid-South region is becoming known as a leader for field testing and trialing new technologies and innovations in agriculture,” said, Commissioner Jai Templeton, Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “We are pleased to be able to facilitate that process to grow the overall agtech sector.”

AgLaunch365 teams are eligible for investment from a key AgLaunch partner, Innova and its USDA-certified Rural Business Investment Company fund, a $31 million fund backed by eight Farm Credit banks.

AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Innova was founded by Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

AgLaunch365 focuses on helping entrepreneurs find success by providing agriculture expertise, incubator resources, and a strong global ag specific network. Paired with the natural resources of Tennessee and the surrounding Mid-South region, AgLaunch365 has the power to help launch startups into successful businesses.

AgLaunch365 consists of three phases of support that closely align with a typical growing season. In Phase I, teams develop their business models and gain access to the Cultivator Mentor Network from October through December. Phase II participants begin in January and refine their product or technology to be “field ready” for on-farm trials with AgLaunch365’s Farmer Network beginning in the spring. Phase III teams work directly with growers in the region to test their innovation in the field during the growing seasons.

Applications to participate in Phase II can be found here: for Phase II is November 15, 2017.


About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation ( and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture ( AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Start Co., Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson.

R3 – Rockets, Robotics, & Arithmetic at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, October 18, 2017 – R3: Rockets, Robotics, & Arithmetic, an after-school STEM program for grades 6th – 12th, has launched at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE).

R3 participants will receive daily (Monday-Thursday) STEM instruction in preparation to compete in regional and national competitions including VEX Robotics, Lego Mindstorm, First Robotics, SeaPerch Underwater Robotics, TARC Model Rocketry, and NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. In addition, participants will be given the opportunity to travel in the summer to see how STEM works in the real world. The summer trips to places like the Discovery Park of America, Nissan and GM factories and the US Space and Rocket Center are designed to allow students greater exposure to STEM disciplines.

Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE), in partnership with the 21st Century Community Learning Center, is hosting this comprehensive program of academic support to provide underserved youth an educational experience that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By exposing students to unique scientific learning opportunities grounded in project-based learning and competitions, R3 participants will have the technological sophistication and broad foundation to compete in any post-secondary setting, and be productive citizens of a global community.

R3: Rockets, Robotics, & Arithmetic is still accepting applications. Approximately 25 students will be accepted per grade level. Space is limited. Applications are accepted at, or in person at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering main office.

R3: Rockets, Robotics, & Arithmetic is a free academic program to children of Memphis residents in public, private, and home-school institutions. Food is provided to all participants at no cost to parents.

About 21st CCLC

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program is authorized under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The 21st CCLC program provides federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, in order to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading, math and science. This program is also intended to offer students a broad array of activities and to include families and the community in the educational process.

Memphis Bioworks Foundation and ZeroTo510 Announce Partnership with Smith & Nephew

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, July 18, 2017 – Memphis Bioworks Foundation and its award-winning ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator have partnered with Smith & Nephew, the global medical technology business, to create a new Executive in Residence program for the accelerator.

This Executive in Residence program allows the ZeroTo510 cohorts to receive ongoing expertise and guidance in the medical device market for sales, product development and other critical elements of a successful business from Smith & Nephew executives.

ZeroTo510, a first-of-its-kind accelerator program now in its firth year, is operated by Memphis Bioworks Foundation. This program guides medical device entrepreneurs through the start-up process and helps refine their business models and go to market strategies with the goal of clearance for commercial deployment through the FDA’s 510(k) process, and a path to product sales. More than just a focus on medical device specific acceleration activities, ZeroTo510’s capabilities in legal, clinical, regulatory and other critical success areas sets it apart from other accelerators.


For the first time, a global medical company will provide an Executive in Residence program on site to mentor current ZeroTo510 teams, as well as teams who have gone through the ZeroTo510 program in the past. The new program adds to the medical device-specific expertise that ZeroTo510 offers its participating entrepreneurs and will increase their chance for success.

“One of the things that makes ZeroTo510 so successful is that it has access to expertise from some of the leading medical device companies in the world located in Memphis,” said Dr. Steve Bares, Executive Director of Memphis Bioworks Foundation. “The Executives in Residence program takes mentorship at ZeroTo510 the next step further and increases education.”

Based on the Memphis site since 1986, Smith & Nephew has been manufacturing pioneering orthopaedic reconstruction products from the site for over 30 years. Smith & Nephew engineers will extend their specialist knowledge of medical devices to students providing guidance on product development and today’s market as well as mentoring support to help deliver a unique learning program.

“Entrepreneurship is an important part of advancing the medical device industry,” said Kelley Grusin, Senior Director of Product Development, Smith & Nephew. “This program is a contribution to our Memphis community and will provide valuable education and expertise for the teams involved with ZeroTo510. To be immersed in the ZeroTo510 entrepreneurial and acceleration environment will in turn benefit our team and expand their knowledge from a unique business development perspective.”

The Smith & Nephew executives began their Executives in Residence Program in June.

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About ZeroTo510

The majority of medical devices get cleared for commercial deployment through the FDA’s 510(k) clearance process, which is the fastest and most economical route to market for a new medical device. A program of Memphis Bioworks, ZeroTo510 has developed a unique program that enables entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative medical devices to take advantage of the fast path to market. ZeroTo510 is a first-of-its-kind cohort-based medical device accelerator. Hosted in Memphis, Tennessee, the program leverages key regional strengths in biomedical research and medical device manufacturing to create a unique program. ZeroTo510 has, for the third consecutive year, has been given a Silver ranking by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, ranking it as one of the Top 25 Accelerators in the country. For more info:

About Smith & Nephew

Smith & Nephew is a global medical technology business dedicated to helping healthcare professionals improve people’s lives. With leadership positions in Orthopaedic Reconstruction, Advanced Wound Management, Sports Medicine and Trauma & Extremities, Smith & Nephew has around 15,000 employees world-wide and a presence in more than 100 countries. For more than 80 years, Smith & Nephew has been a part of the Memphis community and employs more than 2,000 employees in a variety of fields including, design and manufacturing, marketing, Research & Development, and more.

Annual sales in 2016 were almost $4.7 billion. Smith & Nephew is a member of the FTSE100 (LSE:SN, NYSE:SNN).

For more information about Smith & Nephew, please visit our website, follow @SmithNephewplc on Twitter or visit SmithNephewplc on

Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering Partners with Smith & Nephew for STEM in Motion Program

Program Modeled After the Acclaimed MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland  

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, June 14, 2017 – Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE) and Smith & Nephew have joined together to create a unique educational high school experience for Memphis students called STEM in Motion. This first of its kind public-private partnership in Memphis will give qualified students an integrated and unique senior year curriculum that is informed by real-world experiences at Smith & Nephew.

STEM in Motion will take 10-12 elite 12th graders from MASE who are interested in pursuing postsecondary STEM opportunities and allow them to complete their senior year on a Satellite Campus housed at Smith & Nephew. Daily coursework will be facilitated by MASE instructors, but with the participation and real-world mentoring and partnership of employees of Smith & Nephew. STEM in Motion will provide students opportunities to develop engineering solutions to today’s “real world” problems. Their work products will enter the work streams of professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. The program will also integrate the Expeditionary Learning Schools model, which is already achieving terrific results in 152 “Expeditionary Learning” schools across 30 states.

“One of the great disconnects in education today is that students don’t get a chance to see the value of what they are learning in action, in a real-world situation,” said Rodrick Gaston, Executive Director at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering. “The goal is both a more complete educational experience for students who are able to see their own future in the mentors they are working with, and spurring them to continue on professional paths through the next level of education.”

A typical day would involve the students arriving at MASE and being transported to Smith & Nephew. There they would alternate between classroom instruction provided by MASE faculty, shadowing mentors, mentor lessons and participating in research and projects. Students are returned to the MASE campus to end the day.

“Smith & Nephew is honored to share our campus and our employee mentors with MASE students and faculty. This is an exciting opportunity to embark on the STEM in Motion Program for the first time in Memphis,” said Jessica Becker, Senior Director of Quality at Smith & Nephew. “MASE and Smith & Nephew have been working together in various capacities since MASE first opened in 2003. We are looking forward to growing that relationship in the coming school year by being the first STEM in Motion partner for MASE.”

Students may apply for the STEM in Motion opportunity at Smith & Nephew, both from within the current MASE enrollment and as new applicants to MASE. As many as 10 to 12 students will enroll in the program in the 2017-18 school year. MASE is interested in and expects to attract additional corporate partners for the 2018-19 school year, expanding the opportunities and corporate environments for students.

About MASE:
MASE, founded by Memphis Bioworks, opened in 2003 as the first charter school approved in the State of Tennessee. There are 480 students enrolled in grades 6 through 12, participating in its STEM focused curriculum. Students attend MASE, a Title 1 School, from more than 29 different Memphis ZIP codes. The goal at MASE is to help students develop the academic tools they need to become effective and productive members of the 21st century workforce.

About Smith & Nephew:
Smith & Nephew is a global medical technology business dedicated to helping healthcare professionals improve people’s lives. With leadership positions in Orthopaedic Reconstruction, Advanced Wound Management, Sports Medicine and Trauma & Extremities, Smith & Nephew has around 15,000 employees world-wide and a presence in more than 100 countries. For more than 80 years, Smith & Nephew has been a part of the Memphis community and employs more than 2,000 employees in a variety of fields including, design and manufacturing, marketing, Research & Development, and more.

Annual sales in 2016 were almost $4.7 billion. Smith & Nephew is a member of the FTSE100 (LSE:SN, NYSE:SNN). For more information about Smith & Nephew, please visit our website, follow @SmithNephewplc on Twitter or visit SmithNephewplc on

ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator Given Silver Rating by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project

Third Consecutive Year for the Prestigious Recognition

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, June 9, 2017 – The ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator has, for the third consecutive year, has been given a Silver ranking by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. The ranking sets ZeroTo510 as one of the Top 25 Accelerators in the country.

“This is a very prestigious recognition for ZeroTo510. It reinforces that over its first five years, ZeroTo510 has built up an expertise and a national reputation in the commercialization of medical technologies including accelerating 24 companies and mobilizing over $12MM of seed investment,” said Dr. Steve Bares, Executive Director of Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

“As a participant in the 2016 ZeroTo510 cohort, I was looking for an accelerator with the financial backing, industry contacts, demonstrated expertise and past successes that ZeroTo510 has,” said Esra Roan, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO of SOMAVAC Medical Solutions. “This is exactly the kind of thing that the Seed Rankings also finds in ZeroTo510.”

On its website, the Seed Ranking Accelerator Rankings Project is described as:

“The goal of the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project (SARP), now in its fifth year, is to encourage a larger conversation and research about the seed accelerator phenomenon, its effects, and its prospects for the future. The last five years have seen the emergence of hundreds of groups titling themselves ‘accelerator.’ But not all such programs meet the definition of accelerator, and even for those that do, there are often significant differences in program structure and goals. For an entrepreneur considering an accelerator program, finding data regarding the performance of programs is difficult, and there is much confusion and debate regarding how ‘performance’ should be measured for an accelerator. The goal of our project is to provide greater transparency regarding the relative performance of programs along multiple dimensions that may be of importance to entrepreneurs. Many of the metrics in question, such as fundraising and valuations, are metrics accelerators and startups are reluctant to publicize out of concern for negative competitive effects should they become widely known to investors and competitors. As an independent, non-partisan research entity run by academics, we collect this sensitive data in confidence, distill it down, and provide information on the relative success of the programs and of the phenomenon as a whole – without revealing individual deal details. Our rankings are meant to provide guidance for entrepreneurs who are considering going through an accelerator, and who are wondering how they differ on performance across various categories.”

About ZeroTo510

The majority of medical devices get cleared for commercial deployment through the FDA’s 510(k) clearance process, which is the fastest and most economical route to market for a new medical device. A program of Memphis Bioworks, ZeroTo510 has developed a unique program that enables entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative medical devices to take advantage of the fast path to market. ZeroTo510 is a first-of-its-kind cohort-based medical device accelerator. Hosted in Memphis, Tennessee, the program leverages key regional strengths in biomedical research and medical device manufacturing to create a unique program. For more info:

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2017 Summer of Acceleration Teams Announced

More than 30 startup founders and students will build businesses in downtown core

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 1, 2017) – EPIcenter, the collaborative hub of the Memphis entrepreneurship movement, Start Co., accelerator programming expert and member of the Global Accelerator Network, and Memphis Bioworks, the region’s go-to organization for creating companies, jobs and investments in bioscience, such as health and agriculture, today announced the teams that will participate in their joint accelerator program known as the Summer of Acceleration. The programming culminates in Memphis Demo Day on August 10.

This year, 18 teams will participate in rigorous entrepreneurial startup programming across the six accelerators in the Summer of Acceleration. Accelerators will be supported by Start Co.’s core programming and expertise while co-located at its downtown space, and each accelerator partner will provide industry-specific programming. By the end of the summer, many of the teams will have built or refined a business model, conducted customer discovery and sales pipeline development, developed relationships with potential mentors, and made connections with seasoned investors. To date, more than 40 teams have graduated from accelerator programs to post-acceleration and secured more than $40MM in investment.

The teams, listed below under each specific accelerator program, hail from around the world and include a diverse mix of apps, platforms and initiatives:

AgLaunch, a leading global accelerator focused on agriculture, is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and Tennessee Department of Agriculture. This year’s teams are:

  • Microbiometer (Englewood, NJ): Microbiometer is a rapid on-site soil testing tool that measures microbial mass. This means soil health can be assessed quickly and inexpensively, compared to traditional assay methods.
  • Persistence Data Mining (San Diego, CA): Using proprietary UAV technology, Persistence Data Mining rapidly develops soil nutrient maps over large tracts of farmland. These maps dramatically improve the efficiency of automated fertilizer applications by providing more detail than traditional soil sampling methods.
  • Kilimo (Cordoba, Argentina): Kilimo provides a decision support tool for irrigation management in broadacre agriculture. Using satellite, climate, and on site data, Kilimo feeds their proprietary Big Data engine to make the best possible irrigation prescription for each crop.

EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator, sponsored by FedEx, was created to help startups bring innovative logistics products and technologies to market. It is comprised of the following teams:

  • Throughput (Houston, TX and Dubai, UAE): Eliminates supply chain waste by providing software as a service, data analytics, and predictive analytics that discover bottlenecks, automate tasks, and add controls to standard operations.
  • Truck Driver Power (St. Louis, MO): A mobile app that facilitates information-sharing among truck drivers, ultimately aimed at solving the driver satisfaction problem by providing drivers with credentials and information that enable lifestyle and career improvements.
  • MedHaul (Memphis, TN): Provides full-service software for scheduling and dispatching patient transport. It ties together healthcare organizations and patient transport brokers to automate processes, reduce costs, increase efficiency, increase patient satisfaction, ease audit and compliance processes, and provide improved data analytics.
  • Shurpa (Chicago, IL): Provides customized B2B delivery logistics, offering a new level of visibility for merchants and control for consumers that lowers costs for carriers and provides a new last-mile delivery capacity. Through software, it connects a network of neighborhood micro-depots in under-utilized space in existing businesses and gig-economy drivers.

Seed Hatchery, Memphis’ first accelerator, is one of 50 full members of the Global Accelerator Network and focuses on software and hardware as a service for enterprise customers. Its cohort this year includes:

  • Ajax Intel (Memphis, TN): A predictive algorithm that indicates stock price direction based on capital markets drivers, in particular sentiment drivers, from social media.
  • ArtSquare (Nashville, TN): An online marketplace that consolidates artists’ online portfolios on one platform for uniform, transparent transactions and reduced silo portfolio management.
  • Merjek (Memphis, TN): Produces data integration software for healthcare institutions using graph databases to make data more accessible and usable.

Sky High, a social innovation accelerator, focuses on education technology startups (EdTech) and is comprised of the following teams:

  • Building Box (Memphis, TN): Creates youth and student technology labs made from shipping containers to serve schools and learning institutions trying to scale technology efforts to youth in disparate communities.
  • SILQ (Memphis, TN): A data visualization and predictive tool that allows schools and third-party education organizations to see data across all their platforms and creates tracking databases with predictive capabilities to increase intervention opportunities for at-risk youth.
  • The Collective (Memphis, TN): A dynamic programming, partner connectivity, and management organization addressing opportunity youth ages 16-24 who have been removed from school or work for six months or more.

Upstart, one of the top ten women-led technology startup accelerators in the world, is comprised of the following teams:

  • Dev/Con Detect (Los Angeles, CA): Protects the advertising revenue of online publishers with detection, clean-up, and on-going monitoring so that it cannot be skimmed by internal and external hackers.
  • Alwaz Pro (Memphis, TN): An online career development tool for Pink Collar and Blue Collar employees who currently do not have a place to post their degrees, work history, professional recommendations, and more.
  • Mozak Solutions (Memphis, TN): A company that assists entrepreneurs with tasks they no longer have time for, such as bookkeeping and web design, so entrepreneurs can focus on growing their businesses.

ZeroTo510, founded by and operated by Memphis Bioworks Foundation, has been named one of the top 25 accelerator programs in the country by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project for two years in a row. ZeroTo510 focuses on medical technology innovation that takes advantage of the FDA’s 510k regulatory pathway; its teams include:

  • PathEX (Nashville, TN): PathEX is creating a dialysis-like device that can capture and remove blood-borne pathogens, including multi-drug resistant variants, and associated toxins for the treatment of sepsis, a deadly condition that affects some 18 million people each year.
  • EMBrace (Memphis, TN): EMBrace has designed a unique back support device for individuals suffering from diseases of the spine. Unlike existing braces that trade off traction versus mobility, the novel design allows continuous application of the needed traction with unconstrained mobility that allows the user to flex, extend or twist their upper body.

ImagineU, a first-of-its-kind collaboration of seven Memphis colleges and universities (Christian Brothers University, Southwest Tennessee Community College, LeMoyne-Owen College, University of Memphis, Visible Music College, Memphis College of Art, and Rhodes College), helps students bring business ideas to fruition. ImagineU is housed at the University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship and partnered with The College Initiative. Due to the nature of the program, teams have yet to form, though specific student participants have been selected.

 “Our accelerator program is unique in the level of one-on-one mentorship and access to experts, industry partners and mentors,” said Eric Mathews, CEO and founder of Start Co. “This is the seventh year that Start Co. has operated accelerator programming in Memphis, and each year we are excited to see how teams grow and evolve before Demo Day, and then where they go during post-acceleration.”

Each team will participate in joint educational sessions along with customized curriculum focused on industry and sector-specific activities with their accelerator cohort. In addition, teams also have access to potential customers, mentors, industry partners and investment capital groups.

A critical component in any accelerator program is funding. Memphis Bioworks-founded Innova Memphis is an early-stage investor focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the Bioscience, Technology and AgTech fields. The organization provides investments for companies in ZeroTo510, AgLaunch, EPIcenter Logistics Innovation Accelerator, Seed Hatchery and Upstart.

“This accelerator partnership leverages the diversity of participants and industries to truly create an unparalleled experience for the participating teams,” said Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO, EPIcenter. “Throughout the summer, we’re excited to connect these entrepreneurs into our collaborative ecosystem that will support their continued growth here in Memphis.”

The newly chosen accelerator teams are also participating in this year’s Start Q events, hosted by Start Co., EPIcenter, Memphis Bioworks, Emerge Memphis, and Innova, from May 17-20, during the Memphis in May International Festival World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest. Sponsors include American Airlines, IBM, LBMC, Louisiana Startup Prize, OPS-FUEL, Send Grid, ServiceMaster and Southern Sun Asset Management.

The Summer of Acceleration will culminate on Aug. 10 with Demo Day, the startups’ opportunity pitch their startup ideas to investors, share their insights with the greater entrepreneurial community and network with community leaders. Partners for the Summer of Acceleration include American Airlines, Archer Malmo, AutoZone, IBM, Baker Donelson, Mosiak, The Marston Group and many more.

About EPIcenter:

EPIcenter is the hub of the Greater Memphis entrepreneurship movement.  With its network of partners, EPIcenter is the enabler of unified strategies to increase support to new and existing entrepreneurs for business growth.  Serving as the broader voice of the partner network and a single point of accountability, EPIcenter measures and celebrates the impact of entrepreneurial support to create a just, inclusive, and growing economy that accrues to all Memphians. More information is at

About Start Co.:

Start Co. is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) venture development organization based in Memphis, Tennessee, that relentlessly builds founders and companies, promoting entrepreneurship for everyone with a focus on digital startups. Start Co. is a member of the Global Accelerator Network and aims to advance Memphis’ economic growth through entrepreneurship. The organization is supported by partners including American Airlines, Archer Malmo, Baker Donelson, The Marston Group, Mosaik Solutions and IBM.  More information can be found at

About Memphis Bioworks Foundation:

Memphis Bioworks is the Mid-South’s go-to organization for creating companies, jobs and investments in bioscience and sustainability.  A visionary community leader, Memphis Bioworks has a well-established record of sparking new levels of economic vitality by investing in entrepreneurs, building state-of-the-art labs and facilities, and training the next generation of workers.  For more information, visit


AgLaunch Propelling New Startups through Venture Investment & Farm-Centric Innovation Model

Applications Open for 2017 Accelerator with $50,000 Investment and Opportunity to Pitch to Industry Panel at Mid-South Farm Show

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (February 3, 2017) — AgLaunch™ continues to expand its farm-centric innovation platform to accelerate the process of bringing new ideas into agriculture. The organization offers a one-stop shop for researchers, farmers, logistic providers, processors, non-profits, investors and corporate partners to help validate and grow new ideas in the agricultural space. The initiative is focused on the Mid-South region with an international footprint through its open source programs and support network.

“With a growing world population, agriculture must advance and adapt to keep up,” Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton said. “Farmers are natural innovators. AgLaunch’s farm-focused model is matching farmers with new and improved technology and resources to help solve global problems, while catalyzing economic growth in our region.”

AgLaunch is pleased to announce three programs in 2017 that will advance agricultural innovation to the next level:

  • AgLaunch Accelerator will invest $50,000 and three months of intensive business development support, access to farm trials, and a robust mentor network to six startup companies. Participating startups will be immersed in a collaborative Summer of Acceleration experience in Memphis with six other business accelerators May 1- August 10. Entrepreneurial programming is supported through the expertise ofEPIcenter and Start Co., a member of the Global Accelerator Network that has led more than 80 startup companies. Startups will also have access to expert agri-marketing and legal advice provided by Archer Malmo and Baker Donelson respectively.
  • AgLaunch Farmer Network is working with a select group of startups to coordinate farm scale trials with new technologies across various production environments and key crops. Lead participants in the farmer network include Ritter Agribusiness and Mid-South Family Farms.
  • AgLaunch Startup Station is an all-day pitch contest held on March 3 in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, which hosts more than 400 exhibitors and 20,000 farmers. Startups will pitch to expert panels comprised of farmers, investors, and corporate partners, including Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, DuPont, Monsanto Growth Ventures, and Case IH. The event will be preceded by The Combine reception the evening of March 2.

These AgLaunch initiatives focus on a range of technologies, including precision agriculture, robotics, automation, biologic-based pest control, specialty crops, equipment modifications, food ingredients, supply chain integrity and traceability, soil health, reduction of spray drift, food safety and reduction of food waste, water/input efficiencies and innovations in the supply chain.

“AgLaunch has a global network that includes mentors, investors, growers and ag industry leaders,” said Steve Bares, Ph.D., president and executive director, Memphis Bioworks Foundation. “Memphis provides the perfect opportunity to connect with all these assets, as farmers are a short drive away, investors are down the road, and entrepreneurial training and mentors are in-house. The Mississippi River offers convenient logistics, and our unique geographical location allows for incredibly diverse agriculture opportunities.”

The program adds value to investors through creating quality deal flow. “AgLaunch is uniquely connecting new technology with real farm experience to change the way that deals are being created for the benefit of investors and the ag industry,” said Matt Bell, Principal, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures.

AgLaunch helps startups through its combination of entrepreneurship programming and deep agricultural knowledge. “AgLaunch is a world-class initiative that is connecting all of the right partners and resources to bring new agricultural technologies to market,” said Barry Knight, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, North America, Indigo Ag.

The AgLaunch Accelerator is funded in part through a grant from Launch Tennessee.

For more information and to apply to the AgLaunch Accelerator, Farmer Network or Startup Station, visit our website or email

To view a video on the AgLaunch program click here and to view pitches from the 2016 AgLaunch Accelerator participants, click here.


About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch accelerates new innovations in food and agriculture. The organization addresses global issues while creating local opportunities in the Mid-South. AgLaunch connects agricultural researchers, entrepreneurs, farmers, investors, corporations and nonprofit organizations to address real farm and supply chain needs. AgLaunch is an initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and includes a robust group of public and private partners including University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture & Tennessee State University.



Margaret Oldham


Memphis Bioworks Workforce Development Completes U.S. Department of Labor Grant with All Performance Measures Surpassed

H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant focused on providing job training for unemployed American workers

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, December 13, 2016 – Memphis Bioworks today announced that it has completed and far surpassed all performance measures in a U.S. Department of Labor grant first awarded in 2011. The grant tasked Memphis Bioworks with delivering high-growth job training and job-placement assistance targeting long-term unemployed and underemployed American workers in fields in which employers are currently using the H-1B visa program. H-1B visas are granted to nonimmigrant foreign workers in specialty fields, such as advanced manufacturing, energy, health care and information technology.

For all categories being measured in the program by the U.S. Department of Labor, the training initiatives surpassed goals for success. A complete list of goals and metrics follows:

Performance Outcome Measure Program-to-Date Actuals Goal % of Goal
Participants Served 422 390 108%
Participants Beginning Education /Training Activities 362 345 105%
Participants Completing Education/Training Activity 325 276 118%
Completers who Received a Degree or Other Credential 271 248 109%
Completers who Entered Unsubsidized Employment Unemployed at Enrollment 98 225 101%
Employed at Enrollment 129
Participants Retaining Employment in the 1st and 2nd Quarters Following Initial Placement 216 200 108%

Through the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant, Memphis Bioworks Foundation led a consortium of training providers that included Southwest Tennessee Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis and Whiteville, Lab Four, Seedco and Workforce Investment Network (WIN) to train workers in Shelby and Fayette counties who were unemployed for at least six months, or who were underemployed. The targeted training categories and occupational fields were Assistant Animal Lab Technician, Biotechnology Technician, Health Information Technician, Implementation Support Specialist, Network & Computer System Administrator, and Certified Associate in Project Management, Database Administrator, Information Security Specialist, and Computer Programmer/Software Engineer.

“We are proud to have been able to lead such a successful program in our region for the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Steven Bares, PhD, president and executive director, Memphis Bioworks Foundation.  “Each one of our partners played a critical role in this initiative’s success. This represents a victory on a personal level for each local individual trained and employed, and a victory for the community as we have expanded skill levels in the Mid-South in growing technology fields.”

Memphis Bioworks was one of only 36 public-private partnerships in 20 states that received a grant in the Department of Labor program to reduce the reliance on H-1B visas. This program is one of several workforce development initiatives led by Memphis Bioworks and designed to accelerate the growth of the bioscience industry in the region.

Memphis Bioworks Foundation
Memphis Bioworks is the Mid-South’s go-to organization for creating companies, jobs and investments in bioscience and sustainability.  A visionary community leader, Memphis Bioworks has a well-established record of sparking new levels of economic vitality by investing in entrepreneurs, building state-of-the-art labs and facilities, and training the next generation of workers.  For more information, visit, Facebook at or follow @MemphisBioworks on Twitter.