Published March 22, 2023

iO Urology Wins $50,000 2023 PYA Ballard Innovation Award

Captis Aire and Carbon Rivers named second and third places

At the 2023 PYA Ballard Innovation Award live pitch competition, iO Urology won $50,000 in capital and in-kind services—the largest prize of its kind available to startups in the region. Out of the numerous applicants, five finalists took the stage on March 21, 2023, at the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm to compete for three prizes.

iO Urology, a privately held medical technology company, aims to improve the lives of men and women living with urologic conditions. Its product, CarePath, combines a diagnostic device with a digital health platform that provides real-time insight into patient symptoms where the patients live, at home.

“PYA is committed to supporting startups in our region. We’re proud to recognize iO Urology as this year’s winner of the PYA Ballard Innovation Award,” said PYA President Marty Brown. “This annual award allows us to help companies stay, grow, and thrive in the greater Knoxville area. At our core, PYA wants companies that start here to stay here and those that move here to love here.”

Second place went to Captis Aire, and third place was awarded to Carbon Rivers, Inc. Second- and third-place winners receive $10,000 and $5,000 of in-kind strategy support from PYA, respectively.

Captis Aire provides capital and energy-efficient emissions control technology that enhances the efficiency of wood drying and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The company has unique expertise using the fluidized bed concentrator technology for controlling emissions from wood drying, i.e., for controlling emissions from oriented strand board, wood pellet, plywood, etc., manufacturing processes.

Carbon Rivers is dedicated to sustainable, green circular economies. Instead of incineration, landfill, or aggregate in other materials, Carbon Rivers reclaims glass fiber from a variety of production and end-of-life waste streams to provide clean, high-quality glass fiber.

While the 2023 award is the third annual PYA Ballard Innovation Award, this is the first year finalists have competed in a pitch competition. A panel of five regional leaders, including Joan Bienvenue of the University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Gabe Bolas of KUB, Kathryn Eggleston of H.T. Hackney, Tanika Harper of the Shora Foundation, and Raj Patel of Atlas Physical Therapy, selected the winners based on the competitors’ five-minute pitches.

At the event, attendees also heard from PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer Tom Ballard and Dr. Deborah Crawford, UT Knoxville’s Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, & Economic Development. The two spoke about opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.

“There are more opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in our region than ever before,” said Ballard. “From two new startup accelerators recently launching to a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship overall, there is a lot to celebrate. I’m proud to work for an organization like PYA that supports the regional business community.”

The award is named in honor of Ballard, who has spent decades working on creating relationships and supporting the East Tennessee region’s entrepreneurial community. He also is the editor of, which shares stories about regional innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Read about all five finalists in the 2023 PYA Ballard Innovation Award.

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