Grow Bioplastics was named in December Sizzle TechStart's first agricultural technology client.
Sizzle TechStart is a small business incubator formed through a collaboration between the Roane Alliance, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Proton Power and the Roane Chamber that provide business startups space and service in the Roane Regional Business and Technology Park, according to a news release.
Grow Bioplastics, founded by Tony Bova and Jeff Beegle, developed a biodegradable plastic made out of biomass and forestry waste to protect crops while they grow. It can be used in place of the oil-based plastic farmers typically use that must be removed at the end of the season.
More than 40 people including Roane County Executive Ron Woody, State Senator Ken Yager, State Representative Kent Calfee, Chamber Board Chair Marilyn Calfee gathered at Sizzle TechSmart to celebrate the addition last week.
The group also celebrated a grant worth approximately $75,000 to the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center from the United States Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
"There are a lot of young people out here with some great innovative ideas about agriculture," Bobby Goode, USDA Rural Development State Director for Tennessee, said in a release. "To be able to help those people bring those ideas into a business model and carry them out, and for rural Tennessee to benefit from that, is a great opportunity for us ... we're proud to be a part of this."
Wade Creswell, president and CEO of the Roane Alliance, said the Alliance is all about partnerships, and they chose to partner together to create Sizzle TechStart to fill a need in the area.
"We're watching this take shape right before our eyes," Creswell said. "There is incredible potential to do something here that's not being done anywhere else because of the resources that exist (in Roane county).
"The big winner in all this is going to be the businesses that are going to be able to succeed out of this building."