Y-12 Innovation Competition puts focus on technology

Y-12 Innovation Competition puts focus on technology

December 7th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Aerial photograph of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.


Companies taking part and their presenters:

• Eduity, Greg Laudeman

• Beyond Right Now Technologies, Jake Gish

• Accurate Automation, Bob Pap

• Green Arc Labs, Casey York

• Miller & Associates, Lawrence Miller

Source: Enterprise Center

Drone technology drew a lot of buzz this week when Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said his online retail company is looking at using it to make deliveries in the future.

But that's not the only potential use of drones, according to Chattanooga business owner Jake Gish.

His company on Friday won an innovation contest by advancing a proposal to use Y-12 National Security Complex technology and drones to locate bothersome feral hogs and help hunters kill them.

"There's a feral hogs epidemic," said Gish, chief executive of Beyond Right Now Technologies, at the Y-12 Innovation Competition overseen by Chattanooga's Enterprise Center.

Gish won $2,500 and consulting assistance for the development of his startup company, which he plans to move into Hamilton County's small business incubator. His venture was one of five companies which took part in the business competition.

Gish said an estimated 5 million feral hogs nationwide could double in the next five years.

He said California and Texas, two key agricultural states, are among those with hog problems. Gish said feral hogs are becoming more common in the mountains of East Tennessee as well.

"It's an emerging problem in our Tennessee mountains," he said.

The hogs carry disease and parasites which hurt farmers' livestock, Gish said. Also, the hogs can dig up land and damage trees, he said.

Gish's company would provide a platform to help wildlife agencies, farmers and others to rid themselves of the feral hogs with the help of "off-the-shelf" drone technology. The drone would have a sensor array to locate the hogs and send that information to hunters.

Chris Daly, the Enterprise Center's director of technology development and transfer, said Y-12 has developed technology that has been used to help predict where U.S. soldiers are most likely to encounter explosives in Iraq. Officials want to commercialize the technology for civilian use.

Daly said the Enterprise Center is about helping startup ventures and entrepreneurs and connecting them with the right resources.

Gish said his business is part of the inaugural group taking part in the Next Farm Agriculture Innovation Accelerator based at the Northwest Tennessee Entrepreneur Center in Martin. He said the program is the only agriculture industry-specific business accelerator in the country.

Gish said he also wants to work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop his business.

Gish's company said its business platforms can be used for resource conservation and management, crop health monitoring, endangered species conservation, land mapping, and seed and spore dispersal.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com