With early buy-in from major employers and leading local tech companies, the newly-formed Knoxville Tech Council (KTech) aims to grow the technology industry in the region.
Chaired by Tom Lakins, a senior leader for Elavon, KTech was created to continue the momentum the local tech industry has experienced of late, with deals like the sale of Cirrus Insights and PerfectServe, the $87 million acquisition of Gridsmart and the acquisition of Sword and Shield.
According to KTech data, local companies and organizations have announced about $25 billion in deals and filed 291 patents in the last year.
“Tech is so entwined with Knoxville’s story,” said Brandon Bruce, vice president of KTech and founder of Cirrus Insights. “If we don’t have tech here we lose a lot of what makes, in my opinion, the community thrive. You take tech away, I think Knoxville really struggles.”
What will KTech accomplish?
KTech was conceived by tech industry leaders over lunch. Bruce said it’s their intention to complement groups like Innov865 and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and attract other tech companies to the area.
“Let’s shine a light on that and try to tell that to the outside world … we’ve got a critical mass of technology here, it’s growing fast, we’re doing a lot of deals, we’ve got a lot of innovators here,” Bruce said. “It’s a great place to invest, it’s a great place to build and scale your company.”
Founding members of the council include Bush’s Beans, Discovery, Cellular Sales, Clayton Homes, Denso, JTV, Sword & Shield, Woolf McClane, Rodefer Moss, TVA Credit Union, Cirrus Insight, OrthoTennessee, Team Health and UT-Knoxville.
One of the main goals of the volunteer-run special interest group is a focus on jobs. That means attracting qualified employees, entrepreneurs and growing startups to the region.
It also means building an ecosystem to encourage resident tech employees to stay and providing them with training and growth opportunities, Bruce said. KTech will also work to connect and promote members and the Knoxville area.
“Industry also knows — and sometimes we have to remind ourselves of this — we have to make work awesome,” he said.