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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 5, 2021) — Locals, investors, and business leaders joined the Innov865 Alliance as they hosted a lively celebration and pitch competition for East Tennessee entrepreneurs at Innov865 Week’s ninth annual Startup Day on Tuesday, Oct 5. 

Bruce Ramshaw, Founder of CQ Insights, secured the $7,000 Innov865 Judge’s Choice Award. Brandon Bruce, CEO and Co-Founder of Uncat, won the $3,000 Crowd Favorite cash prize, presented by Truist.

Judge’s Choice Award 

CQ Insights – CQ Insights is a startup healthcare data consulting firm that assesses the value of any drug, divide or diagnostic tool as it relates to the patient care process using Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). 

Founder: Bruce Ramshaw

Crowd Favorite Winner

Uncat – a web app used by accountants and bookkeepers to fix pesky uncategorized transactions with their clients and sync with QuickBooks Online.

Co-Founder and CEO: Brandon Bruce

“Truist is elated to support and celebrate local startups and the innovation community that surrounds them at Startup Day with the Crowd Favorite Award,” said David Hancock, Truist Market President for Knoxville, sponsor of this year’s Crowd Favorite Award. “Congratulations to Uncat!” 

The Innov865 Alliance handpicked six of Knoxville’s most investable startups to provide one of the most engaging and exciting pitch competitions to date, including Endeavour Composites, Skynano, Uncat, CQInsights, Summit Performance Testing and Sentinel Devices

The entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live before a panel of expert judges and an audience of business leaders, investors and local supporters. The judge panel featured: Jordan Mollenhour, Co-founder of the investment firm Mollenhour Gross; Sue Malone, President of Strategies for Small Business; and Tricia Martínez, Managing Director of the Oak Ridge-Knoxville Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.

The Innov865 Impact Award, presented by Verizon was also given out at Startup Day. It recognizes a Knoxville entrepreneur who has made the greatest impact in their industry and community. This year’s winner is Bill Malkes. Malkes was appointed Chief Executive Officer of NellOne Therapeutics in April 2020. He previously co-founded and led GRIDSMART Technologies Inc, a global intelligent transportation solutions business, which was sold for $87 million in 2019.

“Verizon would like to thank Bill Malkes for the robust impact he’s made on the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community and our community at large,” said Carol Johnston, Advanced Data Solutions Manager with Verizon, sponsor of the Innov865 Impact Award. “We are proud to support Bill and the Innov865 Alliance in celebrating innovation, entrepreneurship and the Knoxville community.” 

Mayor Kincannon recognized East Tennessee as the “epicenter of innovation” during her welcoming remarks at Startup Day. The event program celebrated the success of existing businesses like General Graphene, Lirio, 490 BioTech, GridSmart, RDI Technologies, Genera, C2Labs and Cintilight, while noting an additional 20 startups will be coming to the Oak Ridge-Knoxville area next year with the incoming Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator, Spark Cleantech Accelerator at the UT Research Park and Oak Ridge National Lab’s Innovation Crossroads program. 

Innov865 Week continues this week with events that include ‘Raising + Rising,’ sponsored by CGI;  ‘Showing Up for Women’ panel discussion, Innovation Crossroads Showcase and ‘Attracting Industries of the Future to East Tennessee’ panel discussion. For a complete calendar of Innov865 Week events, go to


Innov865 Week is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit that brings together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Tennessee Valley Authority, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Chamber, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, the City of Knoxville and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit