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13-Week Accelerator Program is Committed to Advancing Promising New Automotive Technologies

The autoXLR8R program, a unique accelerator programfocused on automotive technologies, is accepting applications for its 2014class now through April 4. The 13-week entrepreneurial boot camp is amentor-driven program that will offer approximately 10 companies theopportunity to connect with automotive manufacturing and technologycommercialization experts, as well as investors, for an immersion-styleexperience designed to help propel new innovations to market.


The main goal of the autoXLR8R program is to identify,commercialize and fund high-potential technologies applicable to the automotiveindustry. This year’s camp begins May 19 and will run through August 15,culminating during the final week with pitch presentations to potentialinvestors on Demo Day (August 12).


The inaugural autoXLR8R program was universally viewed asa tremendous success with 10 companies honing and refining their cutting-edgetechnologies last summer. Last year’s participants also earned a betterappreciation for how to communicate with and pitch to prospective investors – akey component of any entrepreneurial accelerator.


“The autoXLR8R really forced us to take the technologyout of the lab and get in front of customers to receive market validation,”said Michael Weber, CEO of Graphenics and 2013 autoXLR8R participant. “You haveto be able to meet your customers and your investors at the appropriate level,and the networking and mentorship that was provided by the autoXLR8R allowed usto do that.”


Last year’s cohort received additional “hands-on”training with trips to the University of Alabama’s College of Engineering andClemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research for mentorshipopportunities. They also were able to consult with automotive technologyprofessionals at the Volkswagen, Nissan and General Motors plants in Tennessee.This summer’s class will be provided with a similar experience as interactionwith industry experts and other mentors remains an essential part ofautoXLR8R’s approach.


“The primary goal of the autoXLR8R program is to identifythe most promising new technologies and provide them with the resources theywill need in order to succeed,” said Dan Marcum, autoXLR8R Executive Director.


Marcum also serves as the Executive Director of theSouthern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers (SMTEC), which manages theautoXLR8R program. Marcum has a proven track record of identifying successfulnew technologies and bringing them to market.


Industry partners like Nissan, General Motors, Mercedesand Eastman Chemical provided remarkable support of last year’s autoXLR8R, andwill continue to serve as mentors to autoXLR8R.


“General Motors is committed to programs like autoXLR8Rbecause we know that the technologies developed and commercialized in thisforum are vital to the automotive industry’s longevity,” said Roger Fender,Logistics Manager for General Motors’ powertrain facility in Spring Hill, Tenn.“With the ever-changing needs of our customers, we’re pleased to be a part of aprogram that fast tracks the best ideas for today’s vehicles.”


The participation of the region’s automotivemanufacturing associations ensure that each company gains access to a diversenetwork of automotive suppliers across the southeast.


“Several of TAMA’s members are eager to serve as mentorsto the autoXLR8R companies,” said Tom Brewer, President of the TennesseeAutomotive Manufacturers Association. “In addition to relating their ownexperience and expertise, they get a behind-the-scenes look at technologiesthat might be applicable in their plants or compatible with their businessmodels. It is an opportunity for local suppliers as much as it is for theautoXLR8R companies.”


The autoXLR8R program also receives support from EastmanChemical Company, a global specialty chemical company.


“Transportation is a key industry served by EastmanChemical Company, representing approximately 15 percent of our annual salesrevenue,” said Jeff Needham, Strategic Technology Director at Eastman ChemicalCompany.  “autoXLR8R is perfectly alignedwith our goals to strengthen our portfolio of innovative products for thetransportation industry and build stronger connections to new products andsolutions emerging from entrepreneurial start-up companies.”


The autoXLR8R program benefits from the support of anextensive network of research institutions, top engineering schools andautomotive manufacturers and suppliers. The network includes:


•             Universityof Tennessee, College of Engineering

•             TheCenter for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University

•             VanderbiltUniversity, College of Engineering

•             OakRidge National Laboratory

•             ClemsonUniversity International Center for Automotive Research

•             Universityof Alabama, College of Engineering

•             LaunchTN

•             TheTennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA)

•             TheAlabama Automotive Manufacturers Association (AAMA)

•             TheMississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association (MAMA)

•             TheGeorgia Automotive Manufacturers Association (GAMA)

•             OriginalEquipment Suppliers Association

•             SouthernAutomotive Women’s Forum


Entrepreneurial teams from the region’s top universitiesare expected to compete for placement in the camp, though any entrepreneur,start-up or existing company with an innovative technology related to theautomotive industry is encouraged to apply.


Once companies have been selected, mentors from theautoXLR8R network will be engaged based on the specific needs of each company.Participants will also network with a number of guest speakers and investorsthroughout the summer program.


Participants will travel to autoXLR8R’s headquarters atthe Northfield Workforce Development Conference Center in Spring Hill, Tenn.,to begin the 13-week program. Northfield is located in the heart of Tennessee’sautomotive industry.


Initial equity investments up to $25,000 will beavailable to applicants accepted into the 2014 autoXLR8R cohort. Additionally,investors will be engaged throughout the program and will consider offering themost promising companies additional bridge financing up to $100,000 at the endof the 13-week program.


Applications are now being accepted online Important dates include:


February 3          Applicationsopened

April 4                   Applicationsclosed

April 21 Companynotification

May 19                 autoXLR8R2.0 begins in Spring Hill, Tennessee

August 12            autoXLR8RDemo Day


About autoXLR8R

autoXLR8R is a 13-week accelerator program dedicated toadvancing promising new technologies applicable to the automobile industry. Theprogram is located in Spring Hill, Tenn. – the heart of the Southern AutomotiveIndustry.


About the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers

Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers (SMTEC) isone of nine Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerators that have been establishedthroughout Tennessee to assist entrepreneurs. SMTEC provides mentoring,education and training, strategic and technical support, and assistanceidentifying sources of capital.


For more information visit or contact TaraBarnett at

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