Some people still don’t appreciate what’s been happening in Tennessee, but much of the business world has noticed. The Milken Institute ranks Tennessee # 19 in the country in Risk Capital and Entrepreneurial Infrastructure (note improvement from past report) and near the top in the Southeastern United States.
1. Other investors have already spotted the potential here
Tennessee has over $200 million of annual VC investment taking place across the state across nearly 200 high-growth startup companies. There is an abundance of investable stories already here, with more developing each day, some of which are currently incubating in Tennessee’s statewide network of business accelerators, which help over 150 potential high-growth companies per year.
2. Smart, creative people live here
A robust, statewide university system attracts top-tier talent to the state from around the world. Vanderbilt University in Nashville and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville are just two prime examples of schools doing innovative research in medicine, engineering and sustainability. Additionally, various cities across the state are receiving weekly accolades for a great quality of life and burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem, so we are attracting more talented people to the state each month. Launch Tennessee’s Specialist Program and programs like WayPaver in Chattanooga will accelerate this process.
3. We have key strategic strengths that are cornerstones for new innovation
The entire state is experiencing a surge in energy and invention. Launch Tennessee oversees the country’s only statewide network of business accelerators, with more than 150 emerging companies a year receiving intensive mentoring and guidance as they prepare to go to market.
LaunchTN’s accelerators are intentionally sector-focused so they can draw on their region’s assets to provide mentorship, funding and early pilot customers. The first cohort-based medical device accelerator, Zeroto510, is in Memphis, where some of the leading med device companies in the country have a significant presence. One of only a handful of automotive accelerators in the country, AutoXLR8R, is in Spring Hill TN, as the state is the leading automotive manufacturer in the southeast. One of the only agriculture-focused accelerators in the country is in Northwest Tennessee. Nashville of course is the healthcare capital of the U.S., so one of their cohort programs is Healthbox, sponsored by HCA and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The GIGTANK accelerator in Chattanooga concentrates on 3D printing and Smart Grid application, while Knoxville runs a digital media cohort.
These sector-focused startups are creating unique investment opportunities for TN investors for sure, but also attracting regional and national attention from various capital sources.
Strong Internet connectivity exists across the state. For instance, Tennessee is home to one-gigabit/second Internet download speeds in Jackson, Tullahoma and Chattanooga with Nashville currently in the running for Google Fiber. This makes Tennessee one of the most connected states in the entire country.
4. Some of the country’s top companies started here and support Tennessee development
FedEx, HCA, First Tennessee and Eastman Chemical Company were once Tennessee startups themselves and continue to thrive here, now as mega corporations, employing thousands and mentoring with our startups. The leadership at these large companies care about Tennessee and its startup ecosystem. Some of their top executives work closely with Launch Tennessee to nurture state-based startups with the recent example being The TENN master accelerator program, which included participation from executives at FedEx, HCA, Eastman and First Tennessee among many others.
5. Tennessee welcomes and supports business growth
We have a business-friendly governor and legislature who are implementing low taxes, and are also putting through smart regulations to encourage statewide development and growth. In fact, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and his economic development team, under leadership of Commissioner Bill Hagerty, put the wheels in motion for the development of LaunchTN!