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Tech-based economic development incentives study (RFP)

Request for Proposals | A collaborative study of incentives and practices for startups located or locating to Tennessee

May 25, 2023
Re: Tech-based economic development incentives study

Dear agencies,

Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) requests proposals to comprehensively review and compile existing incentives, best practices, and opportunities to reach and support the growth of more tech-based startups and venture funds in Tennessee.

The review should include current practices, programs, and direct incentive offerings at the State and MSA level and identify comparable and competitive programs in other states/MSAs of similar size, location, and/or additional comparable factors.

The review should include programs currently offered by LaunchTN and other organizations and agencies.

LaunchTN is working to make Tennessee the most-friendly state for startups in the country, which includes understanding how to best support, grow, advocate, and establish initiatives that facilitate the growth of tech-based entrepreneurship and economic development incentives.

We invite proposals through June 20.

A description of our organization, the services needed, and other pertinent information follows:

LaunchTN is a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee.

Our ultimate goal is to make Tennessee the No. 1 place in the country to start and grow a business.

The Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, d/b/a LaunchTN is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable, tax-exempt organization pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Launch Tennessee was incorporated in 1998.

LaunchTN focuses on three main areas of support:

  1. Connections: We focus on connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Tennessee through 7 regional entrepreneur centers and 6 industry partners. Through these connections, we support founders in all 95 counties of Tennessee.
  2. Commercialization: We are focused on commercializing technologies from lab to market, both in and out of a university setting. We offer financial support through grant writing resources and our SBIR/STTR Matching Fund program.
  3. Capital: We offer direct equity funding to Tennessee-located startups through the InvestTN program and offer resources to ready founders for capital through our regional entrepreneur center and industry partner networks.

Project goals
The goal is to:

  • Identify and map all existing financial incentives that could benefit a startup or venture fund seeking to locate, or currently located, in Tennessee
  • Take a holistic approach involving evaluating state, MSA, and other organizations tied to State or MSA resources
  • Evaluate other states and markets of similar size for best practices that could be implemented in Tennessee
  • Provide recommendations based on findings for where Tennessee could become more competitive in our outreach and retention of tech-based startups
  • Provide a “roadmap” for a startup to navigate exploring incentives
  • Outline immediately actionable steps


  • Please respond to this request by June 20, and email questions anytime before that deadline.
  • LaunchTN will select an agency by June 27.
  • Work will start on July 1 and should be completed by August 31.

    Proposals are due by no later than 11:59 p.m., CST, June 20, 2023 via email to:
    Tennessee Technology Development Corporation d/b/a Launch Tennessee
    Attn: Lindsey Cox, CEO


  • In addition to the state-level resources, there are four major MSAs in Tennessee requiring evaluation – Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville – and smaller MSAs such as the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, and Jackson, should also be considered.
  • Incentives are often custom-tailored to a company. We are seeking to understand the parameters leading to consideration, as well as the maximum a startup may be eligible for amongst a combination of programs.
  • Startups are often not eligible for incentives. We still wish to know how startups are currently and could be trafficked when discussing the potential for incentives.
  • It may be challenging to convey to stakeholders the importance of engagement with startups.


  • An end product that is digestible to stakeholder audiences and adequately identifies all of Tennessee’s current incentive or financial resources for startup companies.
  • Tactical recommendations, based on other known comparable market offerings, to improve upon current offerings to startups
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to work with important stakeholders
  • Credentials, including recommendations, that qualify your firm to complete this work

Schedule of Work
All responses to the RFP should be organized in the manner and format described below

I Executive Summary:
Describe your understanding of the work to be performed and your firm’s ability to perform the work within the time frame provided.

II Professional Experience
Include an explanation of your agency’s philosophy, size, structure, and qualifications with servicing entrepreneur-focused organizations and/or not-for-profit organizations with a similar size and operations. Describe your agency’s resources devoted to entrepreneur-focused organizations and/or not-for-profit organizations. Discuss the agency’s independence with respect to LaunchTN.

III Team Qualifications
Identify the specific partners, managers, and in-charge staff who will be assigned to this engagement if you are successful in your bid. Provide their bios specifying relevant experience to the type of services requested.

IV Approach
Please identify how you will meet the outlined requirements.

V Fees
Please provide a firm estimate of fees for the services to be provided.

VI Client References
Include a list of the relevant clients the agency has served within the past three years and furnish the names and telephone numbers of any reference whom we may contact.

V Payment
Invoices must be submitted no later than 30 days after completion of a given transaction and/or deliverable. Invoices must list the dates of service, scope of service, duration, and rate. Payments will be made no later than 30 calendar days after receipt of invoice(s). Management reserves the right to dispute any charges it deems questionable or excessive.

VI Time of Performance

The services of the Agency are to commence as soon as possible after July 1, 2023.

VII Termination
LaunchTN reserves the right to terminate the services of the Agency by giving at least fourteen (14) days written notice of the fact and time of such termination. In such an event, all finished or unfinished work prepared by the Agency shall become the property of LaunchTN, and the Agency shall be entitled to compensation for satisfactory work under this agreement.

Evaluation of Proposals:
While price is an important factor, LaunchTN will evaluate proposals on price and the following criteria:

  • Prior experience getting clients positive, national news coverage
  •  Qualifications of staff members to be assigned to the engagement
  • Firms understanding of needed work
  • Alignment with LaunchTN’s vision for growing innovation and entrepreneurship in Tennessee
  • References and track record
  • Quality of the proposal

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