Launch Tennessee Networks program focuses on milestones when partnering startups and mentors

By Lindsey Cox - Innovation Manager

Many new companies find success in an accelerator program because a shortened, labor-intensive timeline works for their product development and go-to-market strategy. Others, however, are focused on developing technology that cannot be rushed through a 13-week accelerator program. For these companies, the new Launch Tennessee Networks program provides a more effective solution.

A significant difference between the Launch Tennessee Networks and traditional accelerator programs is the industry vertical, as well as the structure and timeframe for the program. The typical accelerator model tends to have a 13-week model. That timeframe is not workable for an advanced energy or biotech company that needs a lot more runway time before taking off.

The Launch Tennessee Networks offer a programming option that includes the mentoring and curriculum components like a traditional accelerator, but is driven by scientific and business milestones rather than a 13-week calendar. For the last two years, we’ve partnered with Life Science Tennessee to develop and manage a Life Sciences Network, which has connected early-stage, life-sciences companies with resources across the state to develop their technology and business models in tandem.

There is no pre-defined timeline for companies engaged in the Networks. They may be pursuing a licensing agreement or a patent, for example, and those processes do not have fixed timelines. But they need many of  the same services that the accelerator companies are getting, so we’re creating a process for those to be delivered with a customized approach, while developing an investor-ready pitch along the way

Launch Tennessee is taking the best practices, lessons learned and Springboard curriculum used with Life Science Tennessee, (licensed from CONNECT in San Diego), and spinning out the program into the energy sector. We are partnering with the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council for the energy network, and we are working on partnerships in additional industry sectors.. Applications for the cohorts and the mentor pools are available now at  launchtn.org/commercialization/launchtn-networks.

It’s important to note that even though the pace will not be dictated by a 13-week calendar, there are still timelines enforced and an exit strategy to be followed. One hard deadline is that we don’t want the companies in the program any longer than a year. We want them to hit the milestone, or milestones, they set when they come into the program with that in mind. And we believe they’ll do so, because all along the way there will be industry experts to coach, advise and question, as well as to teach them marketing, finance and other aspects of success in their particular vertical, so they can find success more quickly.

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