Wednesday, April 16, 2014 · 5:52 p.m.
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Banyan creators Toni Gamayel, Travis Staton and TJ Weigel are from Florida and stopped in Chattanooga on a road trip. They Googled Chattanooga and found out about the Gig Tank, and they applied the next day. They won the competition and are now moving their business to the Gig City. (Photo: Staff)

Winner of last year's Gig Tank competition Baynan will move its headquarters from Florida to Chattanooga in coming weeks, and the company has secured its first round of funding from the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, as well as angel investors from the Scenic City and Silicon Valley. 

“Chattanooga’s robust startup culture and supportive investment community have played an integral role in Banyan’s early success,” Banyan CEO Toni Gemayel said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to establish our headquarters here, and we’re confident that the city will act as a catalyst for Banyan as we take the company to a new level.”

Banyan is a cloud-based control system for collaborative research. The product aims to make it easier for researchers at universities nationwide to share information. 

In 2011, the U.S. spent $67 billion on the research industry, according to a news release from leaders of The Company Lab, which was one of the Gig Tank competition sponsors. 

Banyan uses an interface and integrated productivity tools to facilitate information sharing between researchers and can help eliminate research duplication. 

“Last year, 1.5 million research papers were published in the U.S., with an average of 10 collaborators per project. Those researchers need more efficient means of exchanging data,” Gemayel said. “Our partnership with the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund and other valuable investors will allow us to fill the void we’ve identified in the massive research industry.”

The Chattanooga Renaissance Fund is an angel capital fund founded by local business leaders that focuses on local entrepreneurship and economic growth. 

Banyan took the Gig Tank's top prize of $100,000, but immediately after the competition, the company's leaders weren't sure if they'd be moving to Chattanooga. 

Leaders with the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund have raised more than $3 million from dozens of area investors, as well as six of the fund's partners, who manage the investments and oversee the vetting process. 

“[The Chattanooga Renaissance Fund] is pleased to contribute to Banyan’s growth, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with the company’s management team,” David Belitz, a general partner of the fund, said in a prepared statement. “This investment will help Banyan build a solid foundation and, on a larger scale, will further CRF’s mission to foster Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial culture.”

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