Mind2Marketplace, a nonprofit based in Murfreesboro, may soon play a larger role in strengthening Middle Tennessee's high-growth industries.
The board of directors of Tennessee Technology Development Corporation recently gave the TTDC management team authority to negotiate with M2M for the launch of a regional proof-of-concept (POC) initiative that would help accelerate the region's high-tech development, by helping to attract risk capital to promising research-based innovations.
The initiative seems to strengthen further the relationship between TTDC and M2M. M2M has been championed by U.S. Rep. and House Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-6) and periodically supported by U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-3), an economic-development champion who has declared he'll run for the Tennessee governership in 2010.
If consummated, the TTDC-M2M agreement would pay M2M up to $40,000 this year to conduct a regional demonstration project to cultivate entrepreneurship, mentoring and other activities associated with TTDC's Tennessee Entrepreneurs Network (TEN).
Much of the M2M work would be designed to help prepare seed- and early-stage companies to compete in TTDC's New Innovation Competition, which is scheduled to culminate with awards in January 2010.
Key elements include county-level entrepreneurial training and innovation contests, across M2M's 40-county service area. (Related note on another POC model from the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, here.)
TTDC recently contracted for related work with Nashville Capital Network and Mercury Technology Labs (Memphis).
TTDC has now obligated nearly all the initial $5.4 million in funding it received from the State of Tennessee. TTDC management continually explains that the organization's continued existence beyond June 2010 depends on a second round of state funding.
While active on numerous fronts, TTDC's most salient immediate challenge lies in dealing with a legislative proposal for inducing capital formation and investment in Tennessee's high-growth sectors.
As reported earlier by VNC, the proposal for Small Business Investment Corporation Tax Credits got on the current agenda of the General Assembly without prior input from TTDC, which has been warning legislators and others of flaws in the bill, while simultaneously working to improve prospects for passage of a capital-formation bill that meets TTDC criteria for cost and capital-investment results, this year or next.
Hearings previously scheduled on this matter this afternoon in Legislative Plaza have reportedly been rolled to future committee agenda. ♦