Growing a Startup Community

Featured image: From left, TVA President Jeff Lyash, UT System President Randy Boyd and ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia announce the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Tennessee Valley Authority and the UT System announced the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator in partnership with Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. The accelerator will work with 30 startups over the next three years that use clean energy, artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, digital currency, 5G and other innovations to transform society. This will be the first Techstars-operated accelerator in Tennessee, the first affiliated with a national laboratory and the first focused on “Industries of the Future.”

The effort will combine forces of the country’s largest science and energy lab in ORNL, the nation’s biggest public power utility in TVA and UT research and education resources that have won international awards for bringing technology to the marketplace.

UT Research Foundation Recognized for Protecting Lives

The University of Tennessee has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the N95 mask technology to developing systems to quickly and safely screen vaccines, as used by Moderna and Pfizer. These contributions were recently recognized by AUTM’s Better World Project, which named the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) as its 2020 Legend Award honoree and spotlighted its work on Gene Pool Innovations for its role in moving academic research from the lab to the marketplace.

The 2020 Legend Award recognizes UTRF for its role in facilitating the proliferation of the N95 mask, made from UT technology. First created 30 years ago, the N95 mask is now essential in protecting millions of health-care workers and others against COVID-19.

State Approves $8M for UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a fiscal year 2021-22 state budget that included an $8 million investment in the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute.

“My sincere appreciation goes to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for their continued support of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “Our ability to effectively leverage our nation’s largest science and energy laboratory will enable us to deliver a robust pipeline of talent in emerging fields for industry, government and academia.”

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said the institute holds transformative potential. “Solving the most difficult scientific and technical challenges requires cooperation and sustained commitment,” Zacharia said. “The course we set now will define how great an impact we can have in fields where our leadership is essential for long-term economic competitiveness and security.”

Our Tennessee Receives Awards

Spring 2020
The Tennessee College Public Relations Association awarded Our Tennessee two recognitions in its 2021-2021 awards ceremony in June. Our Tennessee received the silver award in the college alumni magazine, printed category, and Our Tennessee Editor Jennifer Sicking was awarded the feature writing bronze recognition for “All Creatures Great and Small” from the spring 2020 issue.