John Bruck headshotJohn Bruck is the Director of UT Research Park’s SPARK Innovation Center, home of the Spark Incubator Program and the Spark Cleantech Accelerator.

He is also Member/Investor with Queen City Angels in Cincinnati, a private investment group focused on early-stage companies. He co-founded Startup Knox, with Brandon Bruce, to provide support and resource connections to the startup community in East TN.

Founded BHE Environmental, Inc. in 1988 as a mid-western environmental professional services firm focused on improving environmental performance and renewable power generation for our clients, business performance for our shareholders, and supporting a sustainable future for the community at large. Mr. Bruck has led the organization to many award-winning milestones including Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500 (#98). Founded and successfully exited 2 entrepreneurial startups.

Prior to forming BHE, Bruck served as a professional engineer, program manager and member of the board of directors for a national engineering consulting company through 1987.

Founded BHE Properties in 1996, a real estate ownership and management business in Cincinnati and successfully exited this company in 2013.

Current professional pursuits include founding a real estate development business, working with entrepreneurial businesses to create and grow value for stakeholders by effective visioning, strategic planning, innovating, supporting leadership, implementing change, and improving operations. Specific interests and skills include business planning (startup and ongoing); market and competitive analysis; business modeling; and cash flow projections; strategic planning; development of systems, skills, organizational design, style and shared values; operations management and program/project execution; information technology, safety, human resources and customer satisfaction (quality) assessment; corporate and business development, strategic partnering and mergers/acquisitions.

Ira Weiss serves as principal of Weiss Associates. He’s also a Finance Executive with over 35 years of decisive and successful financial management experience, including the cleantech sector. His extensive finance and operations expertise, audit and procedural accounting background, along with his extensive information systems and analytical skills have enabled him to meet corporate goals and produce results on time and within budget.

Gary Rawlings is a decisive, high energy, innovative senior business leader with an extensive track record of successfully increasing sales at global corporations by launching advanced technology based new products (including energy), creating significant new business platforms, and through global expansions. Most recently, Gary was directly involved in helping entrepreneurs in the creation and strategic guidance of >50 advanced technology, mostly university based IP, startup companies, including helping to raise >$5 million in startup capital.

Dan Hurst, president and founder of Strata-G, has an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the MIT Sloan School of Business, and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Tennessee, where he serves on the Board of Advisors for Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is the 2007 recipient of the Biosystems Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award. Dan is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and received commendations as a Division Officer and Instructor in the Naval Nuclear Power Program.

With more than thirty years of nuclear and environmental experience, Dan has provided technical consulting, and managed people and projects in the areas of environmental, safety, health, nuclear, and utility services for numerous Department of Energy, public utility, and commercial clients. Under Dan’s leadership, Strata-G has been recognized with four small-business-of-the-year awards from major Department of Energy prime contractors and was honored as a 2012 Pinnacle Award Finalist for Business Excellence by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

Bob Hilton, president of Robert Hilton Energy, recently retired from Alstom and GE after 20 years. Hilton has extensive expertise in power generation and environmental compliance, specifically government affairs, policy and technology. His experience includes many years of global general management as well as selling capital goods and services to the power industry and other major industries such as iron, steel and chemicals.

His primary interests have always been creating and building new businesses for the companies he worked for, providing strategic direction and growth opportunities, technical sales and product development.

Kevin Christopher, owner of Christopher Intellectual Property Law, PLLC, is a patent attorney and open innovation professional with expertise in alliance management, business, economic and policy development. Kevin previously worked in the Industrial Partnerships Office at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory leading business development for bio and clean tech interests including the formation of strategic partnerships, licensing, contracting and valuation activities.

Christopher is also an experienced commercialization consultant, accelerating the movement of socially beneficial inventions to the marketplace from universities, research labs, hospitals, companies, and government agencies. He’s served as a mentor for the Cleantech Open.

Harvey Abouelata, founder of AREA51.SOLAR, has extensive experience in business management, business planning, strategy, sales, marketing, promotions, public relations, implementation, and new technology brand identity with concentration in the renewable energy field. 

After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984, Harvey developed cost accounting and estimating software for manufacturing. This skill set lead to accounting and metric data collection and reporting. Since then he has been helping businesses launch, reorganize, and bring new technology to market. Harvey excels at setting up successful sales, marketing, business plans and economic development strategies for companies, as well as executing public outreach and education. Key phrases you will always hear from Harvey are “fast cycle time,” “In God we trust and all other must provide data” and “Build the win in for all the stakeholders.”

While involved in the solar industry, he has succeeded in bringing millions of dollars in grants to local companies and the state of Tennessee. He is very active in the community and has a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility both in and outside of the work environment.  Today Harvey is a business consultant with a focus on shared assets between private businesses, utilities and municipalities sharing assets and building community economically and environmentally.

Harvey also enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristin, a loan officer with Mortgage Investors Group. Together they have two daughters.  The youngest child is following her mother’s footsteps in the mortgage industry and the eldest’s is following her love for fine food experiences in the restaurant business.

Specialties: Cost accounting, Business and product launches, strategic alliances, Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Grants, Green Technology Marketing, Network Television Promotions, Small Business Sales and Marketing Plans, Community, Sales and Marketing.