Mississippi Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC): Virtual-QUAD

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V-Quad’s mission is to build an innovative, virtual incubator network to support Mississippi entrepreneurs and innovators launching businesses focused on energy- and agriculture-related technologies.

Introducing the inaugural cohort of the Mississippi V-Quad Teams


Project Name Applicant’s Affiliation
1 Oil & gas portal platform ConnectVNA, LLC
2 Rapid prototyping of a commercially viable membrane module for a vacuum sweep dehumidification (VSD) system for building air conditioning University of Mississippi
3 WonderWindow – energy efficient windows GS Research LLC
4 Ramie fibers for biopolymers and marine-friendly plastics University of Southern Mississippi
5 Fabrication of biomass-based graphene nanomaterials for concrete property enhancement Mississippi State University
6 Feasibility of a multi-layer microplate test for rapid detection and enumeration of Salmonella spp. in 15 hours, with no pre-enrichment Secure Food Solutions, Incorporated
7 GrowinLocal GrowinLocal
8 Livestock Reproduction Technician Aid K.C. Holdings, LLC
9 The Bobble Hickman Farms
10 DL Manifold Solutions DL Manifold Solutions, LLC

The Mississippi Virtual-QUAD

Need Addressed

This program will help new technology companies seeking to commercialize energy- and agriculture-related technologies find the technical assistance and financial networks that have a specific focus in these areas. States like Mississippi have strong agricultural, energy research and industrial activities that have the potential to spawn innovative technologies with the right entrepreneurial ecosystem in place.


V-Quad’s goal is to form a public-private partnership that connects Mississippi’s research universities, industry, government and non-profits into a cohesive, tech-based entrepreneurial network.


The nexus of energy and agriculture is more apparent as regenerative agriculture and the circular economy are becoming increasingly important to achieve a new level of economic development while meeting environment needs.

Key Tenet

The precept of V-Quad is inclusive innovation, and rural areas and a historically Black university are part of the Mississippi V-Quad.

V-Quad Operations and Partners

The V-Quad is a first-of-its-kind, sector-specific initiative that will link four research universities, non-profit organizations and state and federal government assets in Mississippi that come together to support current entrepreneurs and attract new innovators working at the nexus of energy and agriculture.

  • All team members and partners have significant experience with supporting technology-based entrepreneurial activities
  • V-Quad will encourage entrepreneurship among minorities and rural areas which is lacking across the entire country.
  • Mississippi was awarded an EPIC Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy which will shine a national and international spotlight on the state’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem.

V-QUAD Strategic Plan

  • V-Quad is mobilizing the combined resources of several public and private entities into the future.
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystem will support emerging technology companies and university spinouts through mentoring, market analysis, prototyping networking and funding.
  • V-Quad’s strength is cross pollinating and leveraging resources across institutions in a manner not done previously.

Key program features

  • Competitively select teams to receive V-Quad Phase I Venture Development Grants awarded
  • “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition with Phase II Venture Development grants July 2021

Technology Evaluation

  • Global energy transitions are creating pathways for development of new innovations to enter the relatively restrictive markets.
  • V-Quad aggressively draws upon the unique strengths and assets of the state’s research universities in energy and agriculture.

V-Quad seeks to mitigate five types of risks

  1. Market
  2. Technology
  3. Finance
  4. Management
  5. Execution

V-Quad Timeline

Fall 2020
  • Launch the Mississippi V-Quad
  • Outreach to public and private sector partners and early stage companies
Winter 2020
  • Solicit V-Quad entries from interested teams
Winter 2021
  • Award Stage I Venture Development Grants to selected teams (up to $25,000 available)
Summer 2021
  • Conduct 10 week V-Quad accelerator
  • Provide mentoring, market analysis, and venture development support
  • First “Pitch in the V-Quad” Competition with Stage II Venture Development Grants (up to $25,000 available)
  • Teams may be eligible for the Mississippi Seed Fund – Proof of Concept awards

Risk Mitigation Strategy: Leverage existing resources and tools

  • Centers of excellence and research parks at universities
  • Market intelligence tools
  • Robust venture development and commercialization models in place
  • Mississippi Seed Fund – Proof of Concept Fund managed by Innovate Mississippi
  • Connect with existing entrepreneurial mentor networks at universities and Innovate Mississippi
  • Connect with existing Angel Investor Networks
  • Startups will have access to more than 250 years of collective mentoring experience through partnering and supporting organizations


Past Successes and Experience:

  • 800-plus companies accelerated
  • 2,000 jobs created by these companies
  • $179 million in seed and venture capital
  • Launched three angel investor networks
  • 16 Startup Weekends
  • 20 annual innovation conferences
  • Coached the winner of 2014 national grand prize winner of Cleantech Open
  • NSF I-Corps sites, SCORE, 1 Million Cups
  • Launched Renewable Energy Venture Startup (REVSup) Academy
  • Experience with patent law/patent holder
  • $17 million in low-interest energy efficiency loans

Measuring Success

The Mississippi V-Quad will monitor and track the following activities to measure its success. MDA’s Energy & Natural Resources Division and The Entrepreneurship Center will be the clearinghouse for collecting and disseminating data.

  • Number of companies with emerging technologies
  • Number of Mississippi Seed Fund Awards
  • Connections to SBIR-STTR
  • Ecosystem density
  • Number of supporting partners
  • Physical spaces for emerging companies to work
  • Access to maker spaces, university research, mentor networks and funding networks
  • Cumulative hours of services provided to startups

Contact Information

V-Quad Team Co-Leader: Sumesh Arora, Ph.D.

V-Quad Team Co-Leader: Joe Donovan

V-Quad Manager: Whitney Jackson

V-Quad Support: Nerissa Tripp

Almesha Campbell, PhD

Kim Gallaspy

Jeremy Clay, JD

Allyson Best, MBA

Brian Cuevas, PhD

Tasha Bibb, MBA

General inquiries: 601.359.3449

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