Tennessee University Business Showcase

Global Action Platform leads the regional showcase to connect university research, investors, and business leaders.


Tennessee University-Business Showcase is a program to connect university research, investors, and business leaders in order to accelerate the innovation economy of Middle Tennessee. With twenty-two regional colleges and universities and nearly $4ooM AUM, Middle Tennessee is poised to become a leading regional innovation economy. 


Tennessee University-Business Showcase is a collective impact initiative facilitated by Global Action Platform to connect the leading regional universities, LaunchTN, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and over fifty local investors and business leaders in Middle Tennessee in activities to build the innovation ecosystems critical for long term economic stability and prosperity.


Tennessee University-Business Showcase launched in 2017 with a series of forums.  The first  focused on the investment landscape of Middle Tennessee; the second, conducted in partnership with LanuchTN, was a business-pitch competition for Tennessee college students; the third focused on the research and workforce capacities of the universities of the region. The 2018 agenda will include a focus on innovation hubs around the country, international workforce development, and other key topics.

Programs, such as ours, have proven successful around the country in fostering new, profitable and innovative business ventures and increasing investment in local innovation. 

Tennessee University-Business Showcase

Connecting and mobilzing investors, universities and businesses to advance the innovation economy of middle tennessee

The Tennessee University-Business Showcase is a series of events curated and hosted by Global Action Platform, the regional innovation field catalyst and lead for Middle Tennessee.  The program is designed to connect leaders from three sectors critical to the economic future of the region, but sectors that are traditionally siloed, namely leaders from the region’s major investment firms, university research institutions, and business start-up communities.  The program engages the current 64 investment funds headquartered in the region, over fifty regional businesses, and the following major universities for 2018--

Ø  Vanderbilt University

Ø  Tennessee State University

Ø  UT Chattanooga

Ø  Meharry Medical College

Ø  Tennessee Board of Regents

o   Austin Peay State University

o   Middle Tennessee State University

o   Nashville State Community College

o   Tennessee Tech University

Ø  Belmont University

Ø  Lipscomb University

Ø  Fisk University

Ø  Cumberland University

The goals of the Showcase are to--

Ø  Increase regional prosperity and economic growth through improved university-business engagement, i.e., strengthen the innovation economy ecosystem (the university-business matrix) of Middle Tennessee;

Ø  Increase global market awareness and global market share for regional businesses and universities in Middle Tennessee;

Ø  Increase capture of graduates, IP, and the creation of new businesses from local investors and universities;

Ø  Share information on regional innovation with global institutions, companies, and markets through the annual Global Action Summit and Global Action Report;

Ø  Engage regional universities in planning and co-presenting with Global Action Platform three events to showcase regional research and business services;

Ø  Improve knowledge of local researchers of the investment priorities and goals of local investors and businesses to increase better alignment of local research with local economic needs/opportunities;

Ø  Engage region’s leading investors and business leaders in development and participation in the showcase events; and

Ø  Increase investment from regional investors in the research and tech transfer opportunities from regional universities to create new local companies.


2018 Showcase 1

April 19

4:30-6:00 pm


Building Workforce and Knowledge for the Global Economy:  International Business Research and Education


Building Workforce and Knowledge for the Global Economy will provide an overview of the needs for a globally-knowledgeable workforce for Tennessee’s economic future and outline the critical importance of research on international markets, finance, strategy, and regional conditions for Tennessee businesses expanding their markets outside the US.  The program will also introduce an international economic conference that brings 200 university economists from over 60 countries to Nashville on November 1-3.  This year, the conference will coincide with the 2018 Global Action Summit and feature a combined keynote event with Fareed Zakaria (CNN), Summit host and moderator.



2018 Showcase 2

June 21

4:30 – 6:00 pm

Creating Successful Innovation Hubs will provide an in-depth look into three successful innovation hubs Cortex in St. Louis, Innovation Park at the University of Notre Dame, and Schuylkill Yards in Philadelphia.  The Presidents of these projects will highlight how the innovation hubs they lead were created, what challenges they faced, and lessons learned.  The panel will also be invited to make recommendations for the development of the Middle Tennessee innovation hub through Global Action Platform’s university-business partners at oneC1TY.  The Showcase will continue the 2017 Global Action Summit discussion on innovation hubs led by Bruce Katz and others.  This remains a critical economic issue for cities, as Katz has recently written—"Eight years of recovery and a remarkable resurgence in their downtowns and midtowns have given leaders a sense that they are “back” and that the need for any dramatic economic development move is not warranted. This obviously lessens the willingness to do the hard organizing and civic risk taking required for major initiatives. But that complacency does not always square with data regarding global competitive advantage, income growth, and fiscal condition. Yes many cities that were in decline for decades are now growing in terms of population and jobs, but they are still nowhere near where they need to be. And many other cities have either very uneven growth, or continue to decline, despite their prevailing narrative.”  This Showcase will provide an opportunity for university, business, investor, and civic leaders to understand the critical need for investment and strategic cross-sector support for innovation districts for their long term economic vitality.

2018 Showcase 3

September 13

4:00 -- 6:00 pm

Health Data Analytics will explore research and business opportunities in health data analtyics from leading institutions and businesses in Middle Tennessee. Watch for program detail coming soon.

Capital Market Findings on Middle Tennessee from the Tennessee University-Business Showcase

Current investments fall into three large categories—
  1. 27% software
  2. 25% healthcare services
  3. 16% health technologies
Some key findings and ideas reported at the Showcase include—
  • The pool of capital funds under management in Middle Tennessee increased 141% from $149M in 2012 to $360M in 2016.
  • Tennessee ranks 19th in the nation in capital funds with approximately $1.1B VC funds under management; comparable with North Carolina at $1.2B; Georgia with $1.1B; Ohio with $1.5B; but well behind Texas with $3.3B; Illinois with $4.7B; New York with $45.6B, and California with $181.4B.
  • The number of investments decreased 17% during the same period when capital availability increased 141%, indicating greater selectivity and larger investments.
  • Major urban areas around the world are developing intentional, large scale investments to create innovation hubs that align local investments, research, and business leadership to create a local innovation economic cluster accelerator.
  • There is some geographic bias toward investment in Middle Tennessee, especially by some local investors, but it is not yet a strategy.
  • The investment landscape of Middle Tennessee is collaborative, but is not yet an organized supply chain of finance and services designed to advance a local innovation economy; there are gaps in available funding, especially in the angel investment space (stealthy wealthy syndrome, hobby investors, and inexperience hinder this space).
  • Strategic organization of supporting organizations and service sector assets into an “innovation system” is needed locally, in addition to creating a strong capital investment pool and strong research capacity.  Tech transfer offices may be well-organized, but without the right external systems, they cannot gain traction in the local economy.
  • It is important for academic institutions with active research programs to help researchers understand the differences between “publication worthy” translational research, or research with impact, and translational research that also includes a solid, viable business idea that can attract investment. 

Our next University-Business Showcase is scheduled for Sunday, June 4 in our offices at oneC1TY.  Student finalists from Tennessee universities will pitch ideas for investment for a panel of judges who will make investment decisions announced at the Showcase, which is also the opening event for the 36/86 Conference.  

Launch Tennessee University Business Showcase Global Action Platform Innovation Hubs OneC1ty OneCity
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Launch Tennessee University Business Showcase Global Action Platform
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Showcase Handout Sept 2017 - View & Download Presentation

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Tennessee University Business Showcase

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