SBA Awards LaunchTN Grant to Support Small Business Innovation and R&D Commercialization

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently granted 24 awards up to $125,000 in the Fiscal Year 2019 through its Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network partner, Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), was named the grant recipient for Tennessee.

The program’s goal is to improve outcomes for underrepresented entrepreneurs in its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. FAST also aims to increase participation for rural-based, women-owned and economically disadvantaged firms.

In addition to receiving one-year of funding beginning September 30, the FAST program offers mentorship, technical assistance, specialized training and outreach opportunities for R&D focused small businesses. Organizations use the funding to help enact state and regional programs that support SBIR applicants and awardees.

“FAST partners support an important role in attempting to fill various gaps that R&D-focused small businesses may have to help them win SBIR/STTR awards,” said Acting Administrator Christopher Pilkerton in a prepared statement. “They focus on the needs of next-generation high-tech firms and support them through the entire cycle from ideation to commercialization. SBIR funding is one way to do that. Additionally, a number of these awards are going to partners that are located in Opportunity Zones where job creation and investments are moving forward to revitalize communities.”

To learn more about FAST, follow this link.

USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is seeking applications

The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Currently, the USDA is seeking applications for Fiscal Year 2020

The purpose of the program is to create energy independence through increasing access to capital for renewable energy projects and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficient initiatives. Funds may be used to buy, install, and install renewable energy systems, including solar, biomass, hydrogen, wind, geothermal, and more. Other possible uses include energy efficiency improvements for HVAC systems, insulation, lighting, doors and windows, cooling units, and more. Applications for grants and/or loans have varying deadlines: 

  • Grants and/or Loans of $20,000 or Less: Applications due October 31, 2019 or March 31, 2020
  • Unrestricted Grants and/or Loans: Applications due March 31, 2020
  • Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants: Applications due January 31, 2020
  • Guaranteed Loans: Applications are accepted on a continuous cycle

The agency encourages all applicants to consider projects that offer measurable results in rural communities, helping them build robust, sustainable economics through effective and strategic investments in partnerships, infrastructure and innovation. According to the USDA, these strategies may include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life 

Follow this link to learn more about REAP or apply for financial assistance. Click here to find the REAP point of contact for your region in Tennessee. 

REGISTER NOW! 2019 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo

TDEC, TDOT, and TNCleanFuels will hold the fifth annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo (STF&E) from October 1-2, 2019 at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville. 

The forum will showcase new research and technologies that improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and address the mobility for everyone in the state. Panelists and speakers from across the country will highlight best practices to transform transportation systems efficiently, affordably, and sustainably.

In addition to the forum, the conference will offer a luncheon that honors both winners of the Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards (TSTAs) and new inductees to the Tennessee Green Fleets (TGF) program. 

Attendees may also enjoy an evening networking reception at the Sunsphere coordinated and hosted by the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition. Meanwhile, a poster session will highlight projects or research focused on the implementation of sustainable transportation and enhanced mobility solutions.

This year’s event will feature the annual alternative fuel vehicle and equipment showcase, where past participants have exhibited electric, hybrid, propane, compressed or liquefied natural gas, biofuel, and hydrogen vehicles and equipment from across the state. A new addition to the agenda is an alternative fuel vehicle ride and drive session, held outside of the conference center. 

Registration includes access to all forum sessions, luncheons, the alternative fuel vehicle showcase, and a networking reception. Here are additional registration details:

  • An advanced conference registration rate of $35 will be available until September 17, at which point registration will increase to $45 per person. Day-of registration will cost $50 per person.
  • Students may register for the event at a discounted rate of $5 and must present their student IDs at the time of event sign-in.

For those interested in attending, registration is now open. To learn more, explore the preliminary draft agenda or the event’s official website. If you have additional questions, please contact STF&E organizers at TDEC.OEP@tn.gov or 615-253-1947.

Vote for Nth Cycle to win crowd favorite prize at 36|86

Have you cast your vote for the Crowd Favorite Award from the list of finalists for the LaunchTN Pitch Competition at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival yet? Innovation Crossroads startup Nth Cycle is eligible to win — so start voting today!

The Crowd Favorite Award provides competing startups a chance to win $10,000 to invest in their business. Live poll results will appear on LaunchTN’s website until Aug. 12. Voting will end Aug. 29 at 12p.m. CT, one hour before the pitch competition starts. The winner will be announced at the end of the competition.

Nth Cycle is enrolled within TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network. The network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Nth Cycle will be pitching onstage representing TAEBC.

So don’t forget to cast your vote for the $10,000 Crowd Favorite Award!

Nth Cycle is developing a recycling technology that utilizes carbon nanotube membranes for enhanced separation and recovery of solid rare earth and specialty elements (RESE)-oxides.  If successful, this technology will provide a high-throughput electrochemical recovery process for recycling RESE as an alternative to the conventional energy-intensive extraction and refining processes currently used to obtain these metals for manufacturing.  She holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nth Cycle.

TVA Board of Directors Approves 2019 Final Integrated Resource Plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors approved the 2019 Final Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) at its quarterly business meeting in Knoxville, Tenn. After a Record of Decision is published in September, TVA will retire its 2015 IRP and begin using the 2019 IRP as its long-term plan to meet energy demands over the next two decades.

TVA took input from stakeholders and the public during the 2019 IRP drafting process to make sure it continues to provide reliable, affordable and clean electricity throughout the region. Following the release of the draft IRP on Feb. 15, 2019, TAEBC submitted comments in April. The final 2019 IRP and associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were published in July. 

TVA updated its previous IRP to allow for a more dependable and flexible power-generation system that effectively leverages more renewable energy sources and distributed energy resources. According to the 2019 IRP’s Executive Summary, TVA found:

  • There is a need for new capacity in all scenarios to replace expiring or retiring capacity.
  • Solar expansion plays a substantial role in all futures.
  • Gas, storage and demand response additions provide reliability and/or flexibility.
  • No baseload resources (designed to operate around the clock) are added, highlighting the need for operational flexibility in the resource portfolio.
  • Additional coal retirements occur in certain futures.
  • Energy efficiency (EE) levels depend on market depth and cost-competitiveness.
  • Wind could play a role if it becomes cost-competitive.
  • In all cases, TVA will continue to provide for economic growth in the Tennessee Valley

For more information about the 2019 IRP, please visit TVA’s website.