Six start-ups selected for Cohort 2 of Spark Cleantech Accelerator

The 12-week program kicks off August 21 and culminates with a Demo Day on November 15 as part of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s “Opportunities in Energy” annual event.

The Spark Cleantech Accelerator at the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Park has announced the participants for the second cohort of the program that launched in 2022.

The six start-ups represent a diverse group of founders working to commercialize a wide variety of promising cleantech and climate tech products, ranging from solar to biochar and algae. Two of the participants are Knoxville-based, but others come from three other states and a fourth is from Nairobi, Kenya.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new cohort of entrepreneurs to Knoxville next month,” said Lilly Tench, Director of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator. “Spark mentors and staff are passionate about working with innovative cleantech startups and connecting them with resources in East Tennessee to grow their businesses here and positively impact the environment.”

The 12-week accelerator kicks off on August 21 and culminates with a Demo Day on November 15 as part of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council‘s (TAEBC) “Opportunities in Energy” annual event. The program provides mentorship, connections, stipends, prototyping services, and business acceleration services to help early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs commercialize new innovations.

The programming will also connect the selected entrepreneurs with support, guidance, and partnership opportunities from local entities such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UTK, the City of Knoxville, Tennessee Valley Authority, TAEBC, Launch Tennessee, and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

Participants in Cohort 2, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Agri-Tech Producers, Joe James, Columbia, SC. The company uses its patented Combined Remediation and Bio-Product Production Process to plant, then multi-task fast and large-growing Bio-Crops to cost-effectively capture large amounts of atmospheric CO2, remediate air, soil, and water, and produce a variety of bio-products in which the captured carbon can be sequestered.
  • Algaeo, Nicholas Sokol, Knoxville. The start-up creates systems that help farmers produce sustainable, efficient, and organic fertilizers on-site using micro-algae and artificial intelligence-driven hardware. Algae grow quickly, take carbon dioxide from the air, and are easily grown under a variety of conditions. Algae fertilizer has been shown to boost yield on a variety of crops and help farmers boost their soil health. Through Algaeo, farmers can purchase algae fertilizer directly, or buy the equipment to grow their own fertilizer.
  • Aligned Composites Technology, Pritesh Yeole and Vinit Dilipbhai Chaudhary, Knoxville. It is a UTK-based company specializing in carding technology for the production of nonwoven mats specifically designed for fiber-reinforced composites, with a focus on recycled carbon and natural fibers. By precisely aligning and blending fibers, the company creates anisotropic nonwoven mats with consistent and uniform fiber distribution. With its cutting-edge solutions, sustainable practices, and commitment to excellence, Aligned Composites Technology creates lightweight, durable, and high-performance aligned nonwoven preforms for a wide range of applications including automotive, medical equipment, sporting goods, infrastructure, and more.
  • Farm to Flame, Stefano Alva, Pittsburgh, PA. The start-up provides industrial manufacturing facilities the ability to repurpose their biomass waste into heating and/or electricity through an Energy-as-a-Service business model. Farm to Flame’s patented combustion process allows it to achieve a high combustion efficiency, which results in a smokeless and odorless burn from a variety of feedstocks that are typically unsuitable for energy generation.
  • INNO-NEAT Energy Solutions, Godfrey Simiyu Katiambo, Nairobi, Kenya. The company is dedicated to addressing the global challenge of clean drinking water access. Its flagship product, Safisolar, is a solar-powered water filter that provides a sustainable and affordable solution for communities facing water scarcity and contamination issues. Safisolar combines innovative technology with solar energy to remove contaminants, including bacteria and viruses from water sources, ensuring safe and clean drinking water. The system incorporates advanced membrane filtration technologies to achieve high-quality water purification. It is portable, easy to use, and requires minimal maintenance. The system is offered to low-income off-grid communities through a Pay-as-you-Go model thereby lowering the costs of ownership for these communities.
  • Vitruvian, Chris Sentz, Columbus, OH. The start-up is reshaping housing with its autonomous construction platform that produces highly desirable homes at a fraction of the cost, build time, and labor of conventionally built homes. The company exists at the convergence of robotics, advanced materials, and artificial intelligence; empowering building in ways that are otherwise impossible.

The Spark Cleantech Accelerator is a program of the Spark Innovation Center at the UT Research Park. The accelerator was created in partnership with Evergreen Climate Innovations (previously known as Clean Energy Trust) and other partners and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the City of Knoxville, TAEBC, Launch Tennessee, and the Truist Foundation.

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