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Angel Capital Group: Ewing to wrangle deal flow, Venture Incite exits E.TN
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SCOTT EWING, formerly CEO of the Venture Incite technology-commercialization firm, on Aug. 1 became chief operating officer of the Knoxville-based Angel Capital Group (ACG), which operates in five states.

ACG CEO Eric Dobson confirmed Ewing's appointment, telling VNC that Ewing "will be managing the deal flow pipeline and company diligence process for ACG, going forward." [Update 19 Aug.: ACG announced this week a follow-on investment in OnCoreGolf of Buffalo, N.Y., release here. CG also opened a Ft. Lauderdale office. See more on its portfolio here.]

Scott Ewing

Ewing previously led Venture Incite, which recently decamped from Oak Ridge and has throttled down. Venture Incite has officially moved from Oak Ridge to the Nashville offices of Solidus, the VC firm.

Three-year-old Venture Incite has been backed by Solidus and others and was dedicated to commercialization, with emphasis on working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12, the University of Tennessee and other institutions.

Knoxville-based ACG's heavying-up of staff comes just as the Angel network is preparing to add to its reach in Tennessee and other states, while also laying plans for ACG's own recapitalization. See VNC's previous report on ACG here.

Dobson, who said he has known Ewing for years, praised Ewing's experience in R&D, wealth management, private equity and other pursuits, as well as his leadership of Venture Incite and his service as a U.S. Navy aviator. Ewing's LinkedIn is here, and here's prior coverage by sister site VentureNashville.

At various points in its journey, Venture Incite held interests or options in a dozen or so potentially commercializable entities during its development push (2011-2014). It now has a substantial interest in only one operating company.

Vic Gatto

Asked what happened, Solidus partner and Venture Incite Chairman Vic Gatto put it simply: The Venture Incite model "didn't work and we're not doing it anymore."

Gatto said the Venture Incite experience had underscored the reality that "tech transfer is really hard" and he and his team had "underestimated the complexity and level of difficulty" associated with commercialization and SBIR/STTR grant-seeking.

Gatto, who is also CEO of independent Nashville-based Jumpstart Foundry (JSF), denied that JSF's recently formalized and broadened relationship with Vanderbilt University's Center for Technology Transfer & Commercialization (CTTC) represents an actual shifting of Venture Incite's mission to Jumpstart. More details in the VNC story here.

Gatto had been able to raise capital for VI: Venture Incite in 2012 announced completion of an $875K Series A capital raise that included participation from, in addition to Solidus, NEST-TN TNInvestco fund (Relevance Capital, Tullahoma); the Tennessee Center for Research and Development (TCRD) in Knoxville; plus, investment by State Economic & Community Development's INCITE fund, which is administered by LaunchTN (Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, TTDC).

In addition to receiving at least $183K in Solidus investment during its rise, Venture Incite in 2011 also won a $50,000 Tech Maturation grant from LaunchTN (TTDC); and, in 2012, it received $250K equity investment by NEST-TN, according to state records online.

The sole remaining VI/Solidus portfolio company -- Clodico, which makes disinfectants and deodorizers -- remains operational, said Gatto. East Tennessee-based Clodico is now led by CEO Joy Fisher, who had been a senior marketing executive with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) prior to joining the startup in 2013.

Clodico also previously announced entering a joint venture with Charlottesville-based Worrell Water Technologies. VTC

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Tags: commercialization, Eric Dobson, LaunchTN, NEST-TN, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Scott Ewing, Solidus, technology transfer, Tennessee Center for Research and Development, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, TNINvestco, TTDC, University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Vanderbilt University, Venture Incite, Vic Gatto


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