Join the critical discussion on how to leverage advanced energy to ignite economic development despite pandemic uncertainty

If you aren’t already a part of the advanced energy economy, you are most likely thinking of how you can jump into this wave of innovation to position your organization toward future economic solutions. Where do you start? Who are your partners in making this pivot? How do you get better connected to find the skilled workforce needed to make your business more competitive and the state more attractive?

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) wants to help answer some of those questions. What resources does the state offer to support your growth or new interest in the advanced energy economy? How do you better engage with the higher education campuses around you to recruit employees?

Where can you recommend your employees go to get the education they need to make the pivot with you? How can you keep the discussions going with educational partners to ensure the ecosystem around your organization is working together towards strategic economic growth? How can you engage other businesses involved in the advanced energy economy and EV supply chain to create more alignment and cohesion?

Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable – West Tennessee

TAEBC is bringing together government officials, business executives and higher education leaders next month to share their expertise and insight about how our state can create a collaborative network to drive economic development through the advanced energy (AE) sector. The first of three Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables will take place April 13, 2021, beginning at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET, and focus on West Tennessee.  

At the April event, attendees will hear brief presentations from speakers representing the three major stakeholders in the future of the AE economy: state government, higher education and private sector. However, the majority of the hour long discussion will be focused on hearing from business leaders and entrepreneurs in regards to what they are experiencing, what additional information they need and any questions they may have for the community. The point of this roundtable discussion is to advance Tennessee’s AE economy and become the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain through dialogue, networking and action items. 

Speakers representing these three areas include: Department of Economic and Community Development’s Director of Business Development Chassen Haynes, Launch Tennessee’s Chief Executive Officer Van Tucker, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tyding, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association President Claude Pressnell, Silicon Ranch’s co-founder Matt Kisber, and FedEx’s Environmental Affairs & Chief Sustainability Officer Mitch Jackson.

Stakeholder #1: State government 

From the state government perspective, Hanyes will share the state’s vision-to create a cohesive statewide network to become the  number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain. Additionally, these efforts will cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses. Tucker will then share LaunchTN’s perspective and about the value of the Energy Mentor Network and providing necessary access to capital for companies across the state.

Stakeholder #2: Higher education 

Attendees will also hear from the higher education side, with Tydings discussing the Tennessee Board of Regents’ current advanced energy focus and outline what a transition to support AE might look like. Pressnell will provide perspective on how private campuses are exploring and supporting AE as well as how private sector partners can collaborate for future opportunities. 

Stakeholder #3: Private sector 

As a former Tennessee State Representative and TNECD Commissioner, Kisber has a unique perspective for bridging the gap between state government and the private sector. Speaking from the perspective of Silicon Ranch Corporation, Kisber will discuss how collaboration in the AE sector works now and how it could work in Tennessee with some strategy and intentionality. Lastly, Jackson will outline FedEx’s electrification goals and new sustainability goals, along with the progress they have made in this area in recent years. He will also discuss how the state and the overall AE economy can support the private sector and offer opportunities for improvement.  

Want to attend this event? Register here.

2021 TAEBC Annual Meeting emphasizes value of partnerships, the Energy Mentor Network and transportation electrification efforts in Tennessee

TAEBC awarded the 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award to TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe

On March 25, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) hosted its virtual 2021 Annual Meeting, sponsored by Seven States Power Corporation. The event featured speakers from the Department of Energy, state agencies and the graduates of the Energy Mentor Network. TAEBC also awarded the 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award to Bob Rolfe, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper kicked off the event’s festivities by providing an overview of the TAEBC’s accomplishments in 2020 and gave a glimpse at priorities for the organization moving forward into 2021.

“As our nation moves forward and accelerates on its vision for a clean energy economy, we believe that the state of Tennessee has the assets and the businesses to help inform that agenda,” said Piper.

Featured speaker: DOE’s Vanessa Z. Chan

Featured speaker Vanessa Z. Chan, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Chief Commercialization Officer & Director of the Office of Technology Transitions, spoke about her background, her office’s vision and specific ways DOE supports energy entrepreneurs. She discussed how Tennessee is the “perfect ecosystem” for technology growth due to the presence of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and other key stakeholders.

“My lifelong passion has been helping engineers and scientists aim their scientific prowess at real-world problems that they can transform,” said Chan. “If we combine the strength of a national lab like Oak Ridge with a strong university system and the people represented here by groups like TAEBC, you find yourself in a setting that is right for innovation.”

Chan also recognized the “valley of death” many energy entrepreneurs face in developing their technologies. She emphasized the three-prong approach DOE takes to addressing this challenge: programs, training and awareness-raising.

“Ultimately, driving commercialization and navigating through the valley of death requires public-private partnerships,” she said. “No one organization can drive through it on their own.”

During the audience Q&A, Chan answered questions on a range of topics, including one on how TAEBC can support her department and help the new administration achieve its goals.

“I would love for you guys to be reaching out to us regarding priorities you might have,” she answered.

Featured panel: Energy Mentor Network Spotlight

Next, the 2021 Annual Meeting featured an Energy Mentor Network Spotlight Panel about a recent DOE funding announcement. Earlier this year, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy awarded $6 million through the Building Technologies Proving Ground – Public Sector Field Validation Funding Opportunity to seven state and local governments for advanced building technologies, including the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

TDEC partnered with Stone Mountain Technologies (SMTI), an Energy Mentor Network graduate, to validate SMTI’s gas absorption hot water heat pump technology in a commercial setting. Other partners for the project include TAEBC, the National Association of State Energy Officials, the Gas Technology Institute and ORNL.

During the panel, Michael Garrabrant, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SMTI, and Ryan Stanton, Senior Consultant for Strategic Energy Initiatives at TDEC, spoke about the importance of Garrabrant’s technology, specifics of the project and the value of the Energy Mentor Network. It was Stanton’s connection to Garrabrant through the Energy Mentor Network that led to their eventual partnership.

“It demonstrates the impact the Energy Mentor Network can have on partnerships like this,” said Stanton. “Stone Mountain has developed this fantastic technology and it was a great opportunity to showcase it at a public building.”

Garrabrant echoed the value of SMTI going through the Energy Mentor Network, saying, “I don’t think it was a coincidence that during that period we were able to raise our first seed round of about $3 million from a strategic investor.”

Award ceremony: 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award

TAEBC awarded TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe with the 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. The annual award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

“Today I’m humbled, I’m honored and most grateful to receive the Tom Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award,” said Rolfe in a pre-recorded statement.

Rolfe was selected for the award due to the instrumental role he’s played in bringing jobs in advanced energy to the state, particularly in electric vehicle manufacturing. Rolfe has spearheaded the goal of making Tennessee the top state in the country for electric vehicle manufacturing, as well as speaking and meeting with automotive manufacturers across the country to attract them here.

“Bob Rolfe has been a tremendous partner to TAEBC and the state’s impressive electric vehicle supply chain,” said Piper. “He is essential to making Tennessee a national leader in EV manufacturing and the advanced energy workforce. We’re excited for continued growth in advanced energy with the leadership from Commissioner Rolfe and all the efforts by TAEBC members and partners across the state.”

In 2019, TAEBC bestowed the first-ever award to Tom Ballard himself, during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. The next year, TAEBC awarded Dan Hurst, CEO and Founder of Knoxville-based Strata-G, with the 2020 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting.

Loved the event? Missed it? Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our members, advanced energy news and upcoming events. Also, if you’re not already a member, become a member today!

Tennessee Valley Corridor’s 2021 National Summit to explore “Power of Partnerships”

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is a proud sponsor of the Tennessee Valley Corridor’s upcoming 2021 National Summit on June 2-3, 2021, held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The theme for this year’s Summit is “The Power of Partnerships: National Leadership Through Regional Collaboration.”

For more than 25 years, the Tennessee Valley Corridor has worked to advance important federal missions and expand federal investments to create more private sector job opportunities across the five-state region.

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. Key to our mission is establishing strategic partnership to connect assets with opportunities that further the Tennessee advanced energy economy. We also educate public officials and business leaders about the state’s advanced energy assets and inform policy that expands and strengthens the entire industry.  The “power of partnerships” is an essential element in reaching our goals.

Advanced energy is relatively new but refers to any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient. It includes manufacturers and companies that use advanced energy technologies, as well as professional service providers, researchers and entrepreneurs. Rather than favoring specific technologies, the phrase advanced energy is technology neutral. Any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient is in the bucket. Some examples include electric vehicles, bioenergy and smart grids.

According to our 2018 Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report, the advanced energy industry represents a $39.7 billion contribution to state GDP, employs 358,360 jobs, and includes 18,170 businesses across the state. Advanced energy injects billions into the state economy, creates high quality jobs for Tennesseans, fuels growth for existing businesses and attracts new corporate investment in the state.

TAEBC believes Tennessee’s advanced energy economy is truly thriving. Looking forward into 2021, we will pursue more collaborations and partnerships with Tennessee elected leaders, major institutions in the state and other TAEBC members as we continue to advocate for advanced energy.

A part of this plan, TAEBC looks forward to attending TVC’s 2021 Annual Summit. For over two decades, TVC has advanced important federal missions and expanded federal investments in the Tennessee Valley Corridor to create more private sector job opportunities across the region, which includes the advanced energy sector.

To celebrate our region’s advanced energy economy and strategic partnerships, join TAEBC at this year’s Summit! Only a limited number of Summit sponsorships with the opportunity to attend the in-person event are still available. Due to capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements, on-site attendance to this year’s Summit is strictly limited.

To learn more about sponsoring or attending this year’s event, click here.

490 BioTech wins PYA’s inaugural Tom Ballard Innovation Award

TAEBC Energy Mentor Network graduates Eonix and Ascend Manufacturing secure second and third places

Last week, Knoxville-based PYA awarded 490 BioTech the inaugural Tom Ballard Innovation Award. Eonix, LLC and Ascend Manufacturing, Innovation Crossroads Cohort 2 alumni and TAEBC Energy Mentor Network graduates, came in second and third places respectively.

In securing first place, 490 BioTech, a biotechnology startup, will receive $50,000 in in-kind and capital services from PYA. Second place includes $10,000 worth of in-kind strategy support and third place involves $5,000 worth of in-kind strategy support from PYA.

“Today we’re celebrating their accomplishments,” said Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and the award’s namesake, as he recognized the three startups during the award ceremony. Ballard has spent decades working on creating relationships and supporting the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is also the publisher of Teknovation.biz.

According to PYA’s announcement, the Tom Ballard Innovation Award is the largest combination of cash and in-kind services available to startups in the East Tennessee region. Held annually moving forward, the award will support early-stage companies that demonstrate “great promise and an innovative focus.”

“In short, we want entrepreneurs and business owners that start here to stay here. And we want innovation and business that move here to love and thrive here,” said PYA President and Chief Executive Officer Marty Brown. “So, a full support system by long-time East Tennessee businesses is critical to accomplish this. And this award, along with the cash and in-kind services, is just another commitment on behalf of the PYA owners to this entrepreneurial community.”

Ballard is a valued TAEBC member and the inspiration for TAEBC’s annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. In 2019, TAEBC bestowed the first-ever award to Ballard himself during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting.

Learn more about PYA’s Tom Ballard Innovation Award here.

Seven States Power to become independent energy solutions company

Seven States Power Corporation, a Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council member, is launching as an independent energy solutions company after a key vote from the organization’s board of directors last month. This transition will allow the organization to focus on helping members meet their renewable energy product and service goals. TAEBC congratulates Seven States Power on this development.

According to Seven States Power’s announcement, this move follows three years of more demand from the Tennessee Valley’s local power companies (LPCs) for project management services. Now, the organization will operate as a self-reliant business and “grow its services and compete for larger projects for the benefit of its member-owners, the 153 electric power distributors in the Tennessee Valley.”

“Our industry has changed dramatically in recent years and with even more change on the horizon, this is the right time for Seven States Power to pursue an independent, mission-focused path with a dedicated, full-time team,” said Jeff Dykes, chairman of the Seven States Power board. “Now, more than ever, we need the resources of Seven States Power to design, develop and deploy distributed energy products that enable our members to meet the needs of their consumers in an evolving energy marketplace.”

Moving forward, Betsey Kirk McCall will serve as President and Chief Executive Officer. In April, Steve Noe will become Vice President of Sustainability & Energy Resilience and Clint Wilson will serve as the Senior Vice President of Engineering & Market Innovation. In the near future, Seven States Power will add a vice president of partnerships and project development to round out its four-person team.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead Seven States and this talented team of experts. Working collaboratively with our members, vendors and partners we can broaden our impact and accelerate the adoption of new technologies in the Tennessee Valley such that the benefits can be realized at a faster rate,” said McCall.  “We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our reach and deliver the power of possibilities for a brighter tomorrow.”

Seven States Power is a valued sponsor of the 2021 TAEBC Annual Meeting, held virtually on Thursday, March 25, 2021 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. ET. Register here to attend!

Learn more about Seven States Power’s announcement here or meet the team here.