Registration is open!  Click here.

nov. 10-12, 2020

Now in its 21st year, Accelerate, the Conference on Technology Innovation, offers Mississippi stakeholders an annual gathering to network, explore, learn and be inspired.

For sponsorship information contact Janet Parker at 601-960-3611 or .

Accelerate - mTrade - Innovate Mississippi


Theme: Partnering on Mississippi’s Entrepreneur Economy

Supporting “young firms” and the ecosystem in which they thrive is critical to growing Mississippi’s economy while combatting brain drain in the Magnolia State.

A recent study published by Heartland Forward showed that serious economic impact can result from encouraging the growth of young firms.

Elected officials, municipalities, universities, investors and incubators all have a role in paving the way for these high-growth companies to  flourish—and put down roots in the state.

DAY ONE – NOV. 10, 2020

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Companies & Investors
3:00 PM – 3:10 PM – Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann
5:00 – 6:00 PM – Virtual Happy Hour

During the Company & Investor Spotlight, we’ll hear pitches from Mississippi startups and wisdom from Mississippi investors who will discuss what they’re looking for from young firms and where Mississippi’s entrepreneur economy can grow.

DAY TWO – NOV. 11, 2020

8:30 AM – 9:20 AM – Intro and Morning Keynote
9:20 AM – 9:50 AM – Coffee and Contacts
9:52 AM – 11:58 AM – Innovation Ecosystem Sessions
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM  – Lunch and Networking
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM – Afternoon Keynote: Joe Turner
1:00 PM – 1:50 PM – Capital and Resources

We launch Accelerate 2020 with Ross DeVol, lead author of the Heartland Forward study, who will lay out his findings in a Fireside Chat with Oxford-Lafayette County’s Jon Maynard. For the rest of the day, discussions will look specifically at how we can grow the entrepreneurial economy by bolstering regional partnerships and working together within the state, with the goal of reducing brain drain and creating new opportunities for Mississippians.

DAY THREE – NOV. 12, 2020

9:00 AM – 11:30 AM – “Block and Tackle” Sessions for Entrepreneurs

Join us for “Block and Tackle” — discussions by and for entrepreneurs in Mississippi to discuss the nitty-gritty of product, marketing, funding and more.
Rocketing Systems - Accelerate 2020
Bilal Qizilbash - EasyKale - Accelerate Conference - Innovate Mississippi
C&I Spotlight Accelerate Mississippi



The Company and Investor Spotlight is a half-day dedicated to showcasing some exciting startups that entrepreneurs have launched in Mississippi. The showcase will also feature investor panels with educational info for both investors and entrepreneurs on topics such as the investment process and access to remote investors and opportunities.
Networking opportunities are built in to allow for further discussion. We invite investors, service providers, mentors, economic developers and other entrepreneurs to this session. The Spotlight offers an opportunity for Mississippi entrepreneurs to gain some exposure for their venture while making valuable connections with mentors, potential investors and others in the innovation ecosystem.

Note: The United States Patent & Trademark office will talk about programs and will also be available for one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs.
You won’t want to miss this exciting event!


Company & Investor Spotlight

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Join us for a showcase of Mississippi startup companies in various stages of funding as they make their pitch. Special sessions featuring investors and mentors will discuss the finance landscape in the state.

Speaker and Sponsor Reception

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Speakers and sponsors are invited to mingle and network as we welcome people to the Westin Jackson and look forward to the conference day on Wednesday. Reception features music by Jeffrey Rupp.


9:30am – 11:40am

The VIP & Mentor Lounge offers pre-scheduled, 20-minute meetings between our high-level attendees and entrepreneurs. (Please RSVP!)

This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to have access to some of Mississippi’s most successful business leaders along with several service providers and mentors to get one-on-one advice on starting, growing and scaling your business.


  • Bill Rayburn & Lois Lovelady, mTrade
  • Jan & Lawrence Farrington
  • Ben Walton, Mississippi Small Business Investment Company Program


  • Whit Rayner, Jones Walker
  • Anne Turner, Anne Turner, PC
  • Michael Denny, Grantham Poole
  • Blake Howe & Soden Ka, Smartzweb
  • John McCallum, Grantham Poole
  • Bryan Carter, ThinkWebstore



8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.
"Is Your CyberSecurity Vision '2020?'"
Enjoy breakfast while learning about current cybersecurity threats and how organizations and individuals can protect themselves. During the discussion, our panelists will talk about risks related to computer fraud, cybercrime, and data breaches, and they'll discuss how Mississippi is establishing itself as a national leader in cybersecurity education.


9:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Take advantage of two tracks of programming.
Our "Block & Tackle" track focuses on the critical steps startup entrepreneurs need to take to succeed. Our "Big Ideas" track featuring Jeremy Hirsch on "Startup to $100 Million," Joe Stradinger on Data Analytics and Nashlie Sephus on "Fairness in Artificial Intellgence."


9:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.
Throughout the the morning you can take advantage of the VIP and Mentor Lounge to participated in 20-minute consultations about your own entrepreneurial efforts. By appointment only; please schedule in advance.

Entrepreneurs: Contact Tasha Bibb to reserve time with an investor or mentor.


12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Steve Case, venture capitalist and co-founder of America Online, will talk with Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape, Inc., about the "Rise of the Rest" and Steve's emphasis on the potential for entrepreneurship and high-tech growth throughout the country, including in states such as Mississippi.

Innovation alley

Join us on the mezzanine all day Wednesday, November 13th, for quality time with vendors offering innovative services and/or support for entrepreneurs in Mississippi.

Keynote: JOE M. TURNER

“Chief Impossibility Officer” Joe M. Turner is the founder and principal speaker and performer at Turner Magic & Keynotes, providing world-class corporate entertainment and insightful keynotes for clients across the United States and worldwide.

A summa cum laude graduate of Mississippi State University, Joe’s corporate experience is primarily in the area of change management and human performance.

As a speaker and entertainer, Joe leverages the impact of the illusion arts to captivate, communicate, and connect audiences and ideas. He has won numerous awards as a performer and speaker in the United States and abroad. He performs around the world, from the Hollywood Magic Castle to the London Palladium, as well as on Crystal Cruises. He has been seen on Good Morning America, Nightline, CNN Headline News, and countless other broadcasts both locally and internationally.

Find Joe on Twitter at @turnermagic and online at


We’ve assembled an exciting group of speakers for Accelerate: the Conference on Technology Innovation this year. From startup veterans to educators to industry leaders, this group will look at the tools and teams we can pull together to help young firms thrive.

Nov 12, 2020

New research demonstrates that knowledge-intensive and Main Street entrepreneurs—especially young firms—are critical to long-term economic success for a town, city or state. A strong, vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem drives job and wage growth in metropolitan and micropolitan regions. How those municipalities support growing young firms is critical to their overall success.

Heartland Forward CEO and President, Ross DeVol, will discuss how urban and regional economic development is undergoing a sea of change. Guiding the discussion will be Jon Maynard, of the Oxford-Lafayette EDF, which is touted in the report as a model micropolitan in the South.

They’ll discuss the key to success today: building thriving clusters and ecosystems for young, entrepreneurial high growth firms. 

Ross Duval - Accelerate 2020

Ross Devol

Ross DeVol is President and CEO, Heartland Forward. Heartland Forward’s goal is to promote regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for the American Heartland.

John Maynard speaker COTI 2017

Jon Maynard

Jon Maynard currently serves as President and CEO for the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation (EDF) , a public private partnership whose mission is to be a leader in creating opportunities for responsible economic investment and to thereby raise the per capita income for all citizens of Lafayette County.


Allyson Best - Accelerate 2020

Allyson Best

Allyson Best is the director of technology commercialization at the University of Mississippi. She has a bachelors from Clemson University in marketing and an MBA with a focus on pharmaceutical science from the University of Mississippi. She has served in numerous positions including the chair of the board of directors of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, but also internationally within the Association of University Technology Managers.

Almesha Campbell - Accelerate 2020

Dr. Almesha Campbell

Almesha L. Campbell, Ph.D. is currently the Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Jackson State University (JSU).

In this capacity, she supports the Vice President with the overall direction of the Division of Research and Economic Development, which overseas Grants and Contracts, Sponsored Programs, Research Compliance, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Federal Relations, and the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CIEED).

Joe Donovan - MDA - Accelerate Conference on Technology Innovation

Joe Donovan

Joe Donovan is director of the Entrepreneur Center and the Mississippi Development Authority. has been best described by the Mississippi Business Journal as a “serial entrepreneur." Prior to MDA he was the principle at The Donovan Consulting Group. As the first Director of Entrepreneurial Development at Millsaps College, Else School of Management coordinating a new core focus on entrepreneurship within the Undergraduate and Graduate business programs at Millsaps College.

Ria Goel

Ria Goel is an associate at GI Partners, a middle-market private equity firm based in San Francisco investing out of its fifth fund of $2.8B. At GI, Ria invests in business services companies and works with Access Information Management, a document storage business, and American Residential Services, a residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, on value creation initiatives to drive both organic and inorganic growth.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann

Elected in November 2019 with more than 60 percent of the vote, the Honorable Delbert Hosemann is serving as Mississippi’s 33rd Lieutenant Governor. He previously served as Secretary of State.

Lt. Governor Hosemann is committed to serving the public with open and fair government. During his campaign, he advocated for increasing transparency in state government, supporting small businesses, shoring up Mississippi’s roads and bridges, providing better access to quality healthcare, and ensuring every child has access to a high-quality public education.

Eric Hill

Eric Hill

Eric Alan Hill serves as Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (CEO) at Mississippi State University, where he assists students, faculty and staff in developing business models to transform inventions into profit-seeking innovations.

Under his leadership, MSU’s entrepreneurial pipeline has grown more than threefold, launching more than 100 new startups annually and helping them raise nearly $1M private capital each year. He is also co-founder of Coflyt®, an investment-backed aviation software company, and has led operations of four other startups.

Dr. Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee joined the faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi in an administrative role as Director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering in August 2020. This follows nine years at Mississippi State University where she served on the faculty and in leadership roles since 2011, including her most recent appointment as Assistant Department Head in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Dr. Michele Morgan

In 2001, Michele established a corporation, God’s Way Enterprises, Inc. to run projects, raise funding for non-profits, and promote an invention through five windows: Business, Education, Ministry, Missions, and Resources.

Michele holds a patent on a powered garden tool, branded and trademarked THE MAXBIT. This aspect of GWE, Inc. is a 4-year-old startup and grossed almost $200,000 in sales in 2019.

MIke Morgan

Mike Morgan

Mike Morgan is an experienced technology executive currently engaging aspiring young entrepreneurs and finance students as a professor of practice at the University of Southern Mississippi. Mike is a CPA and has served as CFO for four technology firms. He's worked in both public and private environments. Mike most recently served as president for two years and CFO for six years of Bomgar Corporation prior to their sale to TA Associates.

Sharron Nichols

Sharon Nichols

Sharon Nichols has served as the state director of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center since fall of 2018 after spending seven years with the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. The MS-SBDC provides services and support at no charge to any Mississippian who wants to start a small business or is looking to grow an existing business.

Wade Patterson

Wade Patterson

Wade Patterson was co-founder and CEO of Synapse Wireless, which was sold in 2012 after being approached by Google about acquisition. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering, holds a B.S. Degree in Electrical Engineering and is a named inventor on over twenty U.S. patents. In 2017, he founded the Bulldog Angel Network to invest in Mississippi State University related startups.

John Rounsaville - Accelerate 2020 - Innovate Mississippi

John Rounsaville

John Rounsaville is the interim executive director for the Mississippi Development Authority, a position he was appointed to in May 2020 by Governor Tate Reeves. Prior to that he was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as the State Director for USDA Rural Development, a position he held from 2017-2020. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve in the same position from 2006-2008.

Jeffery Rupp - Accelerate 2020

Jeffery Rupp

Jeffrey Rupp is the director of outreach and corporate engagement for the College of Business at Mississippi State University.

Jeffrey is the connective tissue between the College of Business and the business community. He facilitates research projects for businesses using teams of MBA students. Clients range from large corporations such as Yokohama Tire and C Spire to small mom and pop start-ups. Jeffrey also works with the more than 100 student entrepreneurs at the MSU E-Center.

Dr. Nashlie Sephus - Innovate Mississippi - Accelerate 2020

Dr. Nashlie Sephus

Dr. Nashlie Sephus has recently joined the Amazon AI team focusing on “fairness in AI” and is based in Atlanta. She formerly led the Amazon (A9) Visual Search and AR team in Atlanta, Georgia, which launched Part Finder (visual search for replacement parts) on the Amazon Shopping App in 2018.

Her team was acquired from Atlanta-based startup Partpic in 2016, for which she was the CTO. Dr. Sephus earned her PhD from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014.

Andy Stoll

Andy Stoll

Andy Stoll is a serial entrepreneur and a senior program officer at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he is part of the team responsible for the implementation and management of the Foundation’s ecosystem development strategy.

Before joining the Kauffman Foundation, Stoll co-founded Seed Here Studio, a social good company specializing in building entrepreneurial ecosystems in unexpected places.

Ben Walton

Ben Walton

Ben Walton was the president of Mississippi Angel Fund, L.P. He was a founder of AutoZone, Inc. Ben later served as VP and CFO to private equity partnerships he co-originated while CFO of The Walker Companies, a family office, which included outside investors and invested in firms engaged in buyout transactions, venture capital, distressed investments, and mezzanine investments.

He is an organizer of First Commercial Bank in Jackson, MS and holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, summa cum laude, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Matthew McLaughlin - Accelerate 2019 - Innovate Mississippi

Matthew McLaughlin

Matthew McLaughlin is the founding shareholder of McLaughlin, PC, a boutique corporate, commercial, and transactional legal and advisory firm located in Jackson, Mississippi. He has more than 15 years' experience representing entrepreneurs and existing industry in highly regulated environments. Matthew has worked with hundreds of startups and emerging companies in the United States advising them on a myriad of issues.

Jeremy Hirsh - Spartan Mosquito - Accelerate 2019 - Innovate Mississippi

Jeremy Hirsh

Jeremy Hirsch founded Spartan Mosquito, introducing the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator to the Mississippi in 2017. Within two years, this Mississippi-based start-up grew to over $100 million and was able to channel resources to help out in multiple disaster relief efforts, veteran giveaways, and educational causes. Company growth has been exponential, exceeding 33,000% in one 12 month stretch alone, making it one of the fastest growing companies in Mississippi history.

Loren Stark

After leaving active service in the US Army and obtaining an MBA from the University of Washington, Loren became one of the founders of Cattlog, a startup that helps ranchers by providing a way to secure the sale of cattle with contracting and an escrow service. Cattlog is committed to ensuring fair treatment and retaining maximum value for all parties involved in the buying and selling of cattle.

Registration and sponsorship

Our goal is to make the Conference on Technology Innovation of value for both individuals and corporate sponsors. Please see the items below for details on pricing and registration.

exhibitors & event sponsors

$1500 and up

  • Technology Champion Sponsorship ($1500)
    Exhibit space on Innovation Alley, company logo in program and 8 tickets to all events.
  • Coffee & Contacts Sponsorship ($2500)
    Exhibit space on Innovation Alley, company logo in program, special networking event in your booth and 8 tickets for all events.
  • Innovation Leader Sponsorship ($5000)
    Exclusive event sponsorship, premium booth space on Innovation Alley, 10 tickets (reserved table) for all events.

entrepreneurs & executives

$250 and up

  • Entrepreneur Sponsorship ($250)
    Tickets for two and recognition in our program

  • Executive Partner Sponsorship ($550)
    Tickets for four and recognition in our program


$75 full conference

  • Wednesday 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Breakfast
  • Tech Sessions
  • Innovation Alley
  • Luncheon


This conference is for you! We’ve scheduled special opportunities to meet new people, learn more about colleagues and improve the dialogue on technology innovation in the Magnolia state.

our sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Innovation LEaderS

Coffee & Contacts - SNACKS SUPPORTERS

Technology ChampionS

Executive PartnerS



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