Some of the world’s most promising startups now are wired into the Knoxville-area business ecosystem.
These startups are using new technology, artificial intelligence and big data to address society’s biggest challenges, from natural disasters to cybersecurity.
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The 10 startups wrapping up their time in the Techstars Industries of the Future accelerator have pitched their products to investors, and some of the founders have secured partnerships and customers in Knoxville or Oak Ridge.
The founders and CEOs spent three months gaining resources and mentors to help them scale while working in the 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 unbelievably passionate about building and solving global problems,” accelerator managing director Tricia Martinez said.
The 10 startups from around the world are developing potentially world-changing technologies. Let’s meet them.
Be Global Safety
Nilay Parikh, CEO of Be Global Safety, has developed artificial intelligence to detect and prevent workplace safety incidents in real time.
ARVIST — “A Rather Very Intelligent Safety Technology” — can be integrated into existing workplace cameras and sensors and provides 24/7 safety monitoring. It can detect things like tripping hazards and proper safety attire.
U.S. employers spend $1 billion on workplace safety incidents each year, 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 retailors and supply chain giants.
Taylor Chertier, CEO of Indiana-based Modicus Prime, has developed an artificial intelligence to detect contamination and anomalies in pharmaceutical drugs using computer vision technology.
The technology produces real-time reports that can be requested by regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration.
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Contamination in pharmaceuticals costs drug companies $50 billion a year, according to Chertier.
Modicus is beginning a five-year, $2 million commercial contract, Chertier said, and the company has engaged in talks with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Flagship Pioneering and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
CEO Rick Chakra created Armada IQ, based in North Carolina, with the hopes of creating a world without car crashes, emissions or disruptions.
Armada plans to roll out an artificial intelligence platform that analyzes footage and provides insight to improve driving safety. Armada plans to offer a three-tier subscription model to commercial trucking companies.
It is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to capture and analyze semi-autonomous vehicle data.
Dragos Stanciu is the founder and CEO of London-based Grayscale AI.
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 is piloting the technology in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries. The startup has also signed a deal with Intel to gain access to hardware needed to further develop the technology, Stanciu said.
In eight years, carbon emissions need to be cut in half to prevent global warming from hitting intolerable levels, Silvis Materials CEO Patty Ferreira said.
Silvis, based in Colorado, wants to reduce the world’s dependence on plastics by creating bio-based, cost-effective materials. Using cellulose, an abundant material from plants, Silvis makes 100% renewable adhesives and coatings for packaging.
Ferreira plans to set up a research lab in Knoxville later this summer, she said.
Mohamed Mezian is the CEO of New York-based Augurisk, which uses artificial intelligence to mitigate crime and natural disaster risks for homeowners.
Last year, according to Mezian, one in 10 U.S. homes were affected by natural disaster, costing homeowners $60 billion in damages.
On its consumer-facing platform, Vetter.com, Augurisk determines the impact 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 is securing partnerships with companies like Realtor.com, Rocket Mortgage and home security company Frontpoint.
Have you been the victim of a cyber attack? Cypienta CEO Ezz Tahoun has and wants to prevent them.
Cypienta, based in Toronto, is developing technology that detects and tracks the “footprints” hackers leave behind by analyzing one trillion data points per minute. The technology could be used to predict and prevent future attacks, and Tahoun said it would share information around the globe to prevent other attacks.
The company is working with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop more efficient algorithms, Tahoun said.
It takes four months to book a dermatology appointment in Knoxville, according to CEO Eleanor Jones. That’s twice as long as the national average.
Skintelligent, headquartered in Atlanta, is using artificial intelligence to bring instant skin care to your smartphone. By uploading a picture of your face and answering some basic questions, the technology would recognize and diagnose acne, wrinkles and skin conditions. It could also recommended treatment options.
The company has a research partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to improve the software’s ability to read and screen photos.
Working from home has become the norm for many. Furkan Eris, CEO of Spiky, developed technology that allows managers to monitor engagement remotely.
Users create a team of workers, upload their video conferencing tool and videos, then Spiky AI provides insights to managers about the team’s efficiency of communication and overall engagement.
Eris said Spikey, based in Boston, has worked with Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx.
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 plans for all FLUIX products to be designed and manufactured.
The company creates efficient cooling systems for computers with a turbulent liquid cooling system. The systems, according to Sastri, can improve processing speeds by 25%, allowing for faster processing and less buffering.
Sastri previously told Knox News all FLUIX products will be manufactured at TGS Precision in Lenoir City.