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Tennessee Funding Gets Smart About Lifting Local Businesses

By Gary Wollenhaupt on February 1, 2016

Tennessee / Jeff Adkins

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has launched LiftTN: Microenterprise, a pilot program to expand microenterprise development across the state. The program, funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), aims to help businesses that have five or fewer employees expand. The program will award $400,000 in grants over a two-year contract to five organizations across the state that will use the money to fund specific initiatives designed to assist specific microbusiness programs in their communities.

Venture Capital Funding in Tennessee Companies

1Q 2013: $19.6M

2Q 2013: $65.7M

3Q 2013: $42.5M

4Q 2013: $42.0M

1Q 2014: $30.5M

2Q 2014: $49.1M

3Q 2014: $21.0M

4Q 2014: $52.8M

1Q 2014: $21.9M

2Q 2014: $61.4M

Total Deals: 229

Total Funding: $406.5M

Source: MoneyTree Report, PWC and NVCA

Regional Business Accelerators

Northeast Region



Location: Johnson City

Services: Entrepreneur assessments and other tools, training, coaching, mentoring, access to capital, office space, networking, entrepreneurial community

Target Verticals: Healthcare IT, Medical Devices, Chemical/Biological, Advanced Manufacturing

Eastern Region

East Tennessee Regional Accelerator Coalition


Location: Knoxville

Led by the University of Tennessee’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, a network of more than 40 organizations is coordinating efforts to encourage and support

early-stage companies in a 16-county region.

Southeast Region



Location: Chattanooga

Services: The CO.LAB Accelerator is a 100 day, mentor-driven start up accelerator for high-growth potential companies. Spring Board is an eight-week business planning course for small business owners. The 48 Hour Launch program brings together entrepreneurs and developers to create a business in just 48 hours. Will This Float? is a business pitch competition that includes a cash prize for the winner

Target Verticals: Consumer Products, Smart Grid, B2B Software, Public Safety, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Retail and Creative Enterprise

Upper Cumberland Region

UC Success Now


Location: Crossville

Services: Mentoring, office and light manufacturing space, access to capital, resource coordination and access, business-building programs

Target Verticals: Light Manufacturing, Senior Care, Web Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing

Northern Middle Tennessee Region

Entrepreneur Center


Location: Nashville

Services: Screening of concepts, three cohorts each year for acceleration (about 40 companies), classes for entrepreneurs, mentoring, assistance with access to capital, entrepreneur networking, training on special topics such as IP, legal, hiring and building business models

Target Verticals: Health Care, Technology, Digital Media, Social Enterprise

Southern Middle Tennessee Region

Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Center


Location: Tullahoma

Services: Mentoring, Demo Day, access to capital, office space, networking, distance learning, TennesSeed Camp 3-day program, TennesSeed Camp summer program and the autoxlr8r program

Target Verticals: Automotive Technology, Aerospace and Defense, Advanced Manufacturing and Materials, Green Energy Technology, Digital Media, IT, Law Enforcement, Bio-Agriculture

Northwest Tennessee Region

Entrepreneur Center for Northwest Tennessee


Location: Martin

Services Offered: Mentoring, training, access to capital, business grants for technology, equipment, and working capital

Southwest Tennessee Region

Startup Entrepreneur Development Center


Location: Jackson

Services: Entrepreneur assessments and other tools, training, coaching, mentoring, access to capital, office space, networking, entrepreneurial community

Target Verticals: Healthcare IT, Medical Devices, Technology

West Tennessee Region

Greater Memphis Accelerator Consortium


Location: Memphis

Services: Mentorship, access to capital, office space, networking, workshops, cohort-based acceleration, rolling acceleration. Consortium includes the Zero to 510 Medical Device Accelerator and the Seed Hatchery.

Target Verticals: Information Technology and Medical Devices

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