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Steve Case

Eight Chattanooga area startups culled from more than 60 entries are finalists for $100,000 from a seed fund headed by entrepreneur and AOL co-founder Steve Case.

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Branch Technology CEO Platt Boyd sits in front of the world's largest freeform 3D printer inside the Chattanooga-Hamilton County INCubator on Cherokee Boulevard.

On May 10, Case and the Rise of the Rest seed fund tour will come to Chattanooga, listen to company officials make their pitches and pick a winner for the $100,000.

Marcus Shaw, chief executive of Chattanooga's The Company Lab business accelerator, said that while one venture will win the investment, others also could benefit.

"While one company will walk away with the prize that night, we've seen in several other cities follow-on investment opportunities from Rise of the Rest or other investors," Shaw said.

The finalists are:

» Aegle Gear: Creates and engineers apparel that enhances business performance, promotes safety and fuels brand advocacy for health care customers

» Branch Technology: Prefabricates 3D-printed buildings

» CPR Wrap: Simplifies CPR down to four steps

» Curie Co.: Engineers biomaterials to replace harmful or banned chemicals found in consumer products and industrial processes

» FreightWaves: Provides data and analytics for the freight market

» InfinityCo: Provides commercial smart room services

» SkyNano: Transforms waste carbon dixoxide into carbon nanomaterials using a sustainable and low-cost advanced manufacturing technology

» WorkHound: Calls itself the voice of frontline truckdrivers

Tia Capps, The Company Lab's chief communications officer, said the group is pleased with the number of entries given the size of the Chattanooga region.

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Anti bacterial clothing items bear the Aegle Gear name.

"We had a pretty aggressive outreach campaign," she said.

Chattanooga is one of five cities the Rise of the Rest seed fund tour will visit next month. A business startup from each region will receive $100,000 from the seed fund.

Shaw said the Chattanooga companies display the region's core strength in advanced manufacturing, health care and logistics

"This is an incredible opportunity for the eight companies," he said, adding it also shines a spotlight on the region.

Case and associates J.D. Vance, David Hall, and Mary Grove will judge the competition.

The other cities on next month's stop are Memphis, Birmingham, Dallas, and Louisville.

Case's Rise of the Rest campaign is designed to promote entrepreneurship outside of California's Silicon Valley. In its fourth year, the bus tour is powered by the investment firm Revolution, of which Case is CEO. The tour showcases founders in emerging startup ecosystems across the U.S.

Since the tour launched, Case and that team have traveled more than 8,000 miles on a bus to visit 33 cities and invest in local startups. The tour stopped in Nashville in 2014.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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