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KNOXVILLE — Do you have a great idea but need guidance transforming that idea into a business?

Several experts within the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are teaming up with other local leaders to put on the Entrepreneurial Imperative 2010, a two-day conference on Oct. 26-27 that will feature workshops covering every aspect of how to start and run a business in East Tennessee.

Conference events on Oct. 26 take place at the Y-12 New Hope Center in Oak Ridge; events on Oct. 27 take place at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville. Register by visiting

Workshops will feature experts discussing topics ranging from how to take your idea from page to product to how to leverage social media to grow your business. In the workshop “How a University Can Help Your Startup,” representatives from the UT College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the UT Center for Industrial Services, the UT Law Clinic and the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) will lead a panel discussion introducing prospective entrepreneurs to the university’s range of capabilities and services available to a wide variety of startups.

“The Anderson Center connects student teams with aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage startups to assist in defining market opportunity, identifying critical success factors and building business plans,” said Tom Graves, operations director for the Anderson Center. “By developing that talent, we contribute to strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem critical to continued prosperity in our region.”

Graves added that UT’s support doesn’t stop with the Anderson Center. The Vol Court training and business pitch competition allows aspiring entrepreneurs to receive expert advice and battle for startup resources. The College of Engineering, the Institute of Agriculture and the Center for Industrial Services offer courses encouraging entrepreneurial ventures and instructions on how to write grant proposals. The UT Law Center provides legal guidance for critical issues such as business structure or contracts.

UT’s resources support the main goal of the Entrepreneurial Imperative 2010 to keep and grow business in East Tennessee. Conference attendees will hear inspirational messages on how entrepreneurs are succeeding across the region, how the state is providing $140 million of new venture capital for these early-stage companies and about the art and science of starting and growing successful ventures.

Other noteworthy events include:

A keynote address on Oct. 26 by Eli Goldratt, internationally renowned speaker, educator and author of “Theory of Constraints.”

A presentation on Oct. 27 by Randy Boyd, founder and CEO of Radio Systems Corp., who will share his story about growing his company from an idea to a successful international corporation.

A presentation on Oct. 27 by state Sen. Doug Overbey about the newly passed TNInvestco Act, created to make available $140 million in early-stage venture capital for Tennessee companies.

Three competitions, including the “ThrottleUp! Pitch Competition” on Oct. 27, for seed and early-stage companies in East Tennessee in which the winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000.

Conference committee members include UTRF, the UT Center for Industrial Services, the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration, the Development Corporation of Knox County, Entrepreneurs of Knoxville, Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, Knoxville Overground, SCORE, Technology 2020 and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.

The College of Business Administration professional MBA program and the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are contributing sponsors.

For a list of the conference schedule, visit


Whitney Holmes (865-974-5460,

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359,