Knoxville Techstars startups share tech ideas as accelerator winds down

Some of the world’s most promising startups are now connected to the Knoxville area’s business ecosystem.

These startups are using new technologies, artificial intelligence and big data to tackle society’s biggest challenges, from natural disasters to cybersecurity.

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The 10 startups ending in the Techstars Industries of the Future accelerator have pitched their products to investors, and some of the founders have secured partnerships and clients in Knoxville or Oak Ridge.

The founders and CEOs spent three months acquiring resources and mentors to help them scale while working in Techstars’ office in downtown Knoxville.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee System invested $9 million to bring Techstars here.

“Our goal is to find, invest in, and support the best scientists, technologists (and) entrepreneurs (who) are so incredibly passionate about building and solving global problems,” said the accelerator’s CEO, Tricia Martinez.

The 10 startups around the world are developing potentially game-changing technologies. Let’s meet them.

Be the global security

Nilay Parikh, CEO of Be Global Safety, speaks during the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Nilay Parikh, CEO of Be Global Safety, has developed artificial intelligence to detect and prevent workplace safety incidents in real time.

ARVIST – “Pretty Very Smart Security Technology” – can be integrated with existing workplace cameras and sensors and provides 24/7 security monitoring. It can detect things like tripping hazards and proper safety clothing.

American employers spend $1 billion annually on workplace safety incidents, according to Parikh.

Be Global, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has launched pilot programs of its technology and is working on a national rollout with major retailers and supply chain giants.

modicus prime

Taylor Chartier, CEO of Modicus Prime, presents at Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Taylor Chertier, CEO of Indiana-based Modicus Prime, has developed artificial intelligence to detect contamination and abnormalities in pharmaceutical drugs using computer vision technology.

The technology produces real-time reports that can be requested by regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.

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Contamination of pharmaceuticals costs pharmaceutical companies $50 billion a year, according to Chertier.

Modicus is entering a five-year, $2 million commercial contract, Chertier said, and the company has entered into talks with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Flagship Pioneering and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Armada IQ

ArmadaIQ CEO Rick Chakra at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

CEO Rick Chakra created North Carolina-based Armada IQ in hopes of creating a world without car crashes, emissions or disruptions.

Armada plans to deploy an artificial intelligence platform that analyzes images and provides insights to improve driving safety. Armada plans to offer a three-tier subscription model to commercial trucking companies.

It partners with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to capture and analyze data from semi-autonomous vehicles.

Grayscale AI

Grayscale AI CEO Dragos Stanciu at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Dragos Stanciu is the founder and CEO of Grayscale AI, based in London.

Built on a platform inspired by the human brain, Grayscale uses neuromorphic computing to process data. The platform, Stanciu said, is 1,000 times faster than existing artificial intelligence and 10,000 times more energy efficient.

Grayscale AI drives technology in automotive, aerospace and defense industries. The startup has also signed an agreement with Intel to access the hardware needed to further develop the technology, Stanciu said.

Silvis Materials

Patty Ferreira, CEO of Silvis Materials, presents during the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Within eight years, carbon emissions must be halved to prevent global warming from reaching intolerable levels, said Patty Ferreira, CEO of Silvis Materials.

Colorado-based Silvis wants to reduce the world’s dependence on plastics by creating cost-effective, bio-based materials. Using cellulose, an abundant material of plant origin, Silvis manufactures 100% renewable adhesives and coatings for packaging.

Ferreira plans to set up a research lab in Knoxville later this summer, she said.

augurs

Mohamed Mezian, CEO of Augurisk, at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Mohamed Mezian is the CEO of New York-based Augurisk, which uses artificial intelligence to mitigate crime and natural disaster risk for homeowners.

Last year, according to Mezian, one in 10 homes in the United States was hit by a natural disaster, costing homeowners $60 billion in damage.

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On its consumer-facing platform, Vetter.com, Augurisk determines the impact that weather disasters and crime could have on a home’s value. Users can browse properties on the free website. Real estate professionals can subscribe to receive premium features.

Mezian said Augurisk secures partnerships with companies including Realtor.com, Rocket Mortgage and home security firm Frontpoint.

Cypienta

Cypienta CEO Ezz Tahoun at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Have you been the victim of a cyberattack? Cypienta CEO Ezz Tahoun has and wants to prevent them.

Toronto-based Cypienta is developing technology that detects and tracks the “fingerprints” left by hackers by analyzing a trillion data points per minute. The technology could be used to predict and prevent future attacks, and Tahoun said he would share information globally to prevent further attacks.

The company is working with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop more efficient algorithms, Tahoun said.

skin smart

Skintelligent wants to bring instant skincare to your smartphone.  By uploading a photo and answering a few basic questions, the technology would recognize and diagnose acne, wrinkles, and skin conditions.  CEO Eleanor Jones was one of 10 founders to participate in this year's Knoxville-Oak Ridge Techstars Industries of the Future accelerator.

It takes four months to book a dermatology appointment in Knoxville, according to CEO Eleanor Jones. This is twice the national average.

Atlanta-headquartered Skintelligent uses artificial intelligence to bring instant skincare to your smartphone. By uploading a photo of your face and answering a few basic questions, the technology would recognize and diagnose acne, wrinkles, and skin conditions. He might also recommend treatment options.

The company has a research partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to improve the software’s ability to read and filter photos.

Sharp AI

Furkan Eris, CEO of Spiky AI, at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Working from home has become the norm for many. Furkan Eris, CEO of Spiky, has developed technology that allows managers to monitor engagement remotely.

Users create a team of workers, upload their video conferencing tool and videos, and then Spiky AI provides feedback to managers on communication effectiveness and overall team engagement.

Eris said Boston-based Spikey has worked with Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx.

flux inc.

Abhi Sastri, CEO of FLUIX, at the Techstars Industries of the Future Demo Day at the University of Tennessee Student Union Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

FLUIX was founded by CEO Abhishek Sastri and is based in Florida, but the company will have a long-term presence in East Tennessee, where Sastri expects all FLUIX products to be designed and manufactured.

The company creates efficient cooling systems for computers with a turbulent liquid cooling system. The systems, Sastri says, can improve processing speeds by 25%, allowing for faster processing and less buffering.

Sastri previously told Knox News that all FLUIX products would be manufactured at TGS Precision in Lenoir City.