TAEBC Congratulates the University of Tennessee’s Designation as an Innovation and Economic Development Leader

Media Contact: Gerald Witt, gerald@piper-communications.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn, Nov. 10, 2020 — The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council congratulates The University of Tennessee, a TAEBC member, upon receiving its prestigious designation as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“The University of Tennessee is a tremendous asset to the state’s robust advanced energy economy,” TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper said. “UT’s expertise in energy, advanced manufacturing and materials is at the core of the advanced energy industry. That kind of expertise attracts world-class talent and private sector innovators to the state and region.” 

The University’s research partnerships are a significant driver of economic growth in the region. Teaming with Battelle Memorial Institute, the University of Tennessee assumed the management of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2000. The University has since joined with the Laboratory to expand a number of energy-related research programs and partnerships that favorably contribute to the state’s advanced energy economy, which employs nearly 360,000 Tennesseans and includes more than 18,000 businesses that contribute nearly $40 billion to the state’s GDP. 

About Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

TAEBC champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy. Advanced energy is technology neutral and includes electricity and transportation. Anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is in the tent. No other entity in the state concentrates specifically on this robust sector. We educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establish strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities, and inform policy that expands and strengthens the industry. For more information, visit: https://tnadvancedenergy.com/

Recent auto manufacturing advances are big wins for Tennessee, TAEBC

Media Contact: Gerald Witt, gerald@piper-communications.com

KNOXVILLE, TN, Oct. 29, 2020The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council celebrates a significant recent victory for Tennessee’s robust advanced energy industry with the announcement of GM’s addition of an electric vehicle at its Spring Hill plant.

The Cadillac Lyriq is planned to be built at GM’s plant in middle Tennessee, the company’s largest plant in North America, with a $2 billion planned investment for the state. This announcement comes at a crucial time when state leaders are working to lure auto manufacturers and make Tennessee the home for electric vehicle supply chain manufacturing in the country. The GM announcement adds to its existing auto manufacturing in the state, along with Nissan’s and Volkswagen’s electric vehicle plans.

The electrification of cars and trucks puts electric vehicles on the street, and that’s exciting, but for Tennesseans it also creates key manufacturing jobs in the rapidly-growing electric vehicle supply chain,” said TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper. “We’re happy to see the opportunities with the arrival of new companies and look forward to more announcements in auto supply chain jobs in the future.”

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is here to support those manufacturers and assist in leading the charge to make the state a leader in all facets of advanced energy, including electricity and transportation. TAEBC members and stakeholders include multinational companies, the University of Tennessee and energy entrepreneurs, among others. They all share one passion for using energy innovation as a means to economic development.

The announcement from GM, along with Nissan and VW, also signals opportunities for employment for the citizens of Tennessee and bodes well for future developments in business and industry.

About Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

TAEBC is the champion of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. No other entity in the state concentrates specifically on this robust sector. We educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establish strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities, and inform policy that expands and strengthens the industry. For more information, visit: https://tnadvancedenergy.com/

Five Local Startups Graduate from Tennessee’s Energy Mentor Network

October 8, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –  Five Tennessee energy startups are graduating from the Energy Mentor Network, a rigorous mentorship program that cultivates energy entrepreneurship across the state.

Run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) in partnership with Launch Tennessee, the Energy Mentor Network equips promising young companies with the tools and connections to raise capital and scale their businesses to market success

The companies were paired with expert entrepreneurs to guide the companies through the multi-tiered program of panel presentations and mentorship sessions. To reach graduation, the startups built investable pitch decks, finance models, and structured business plans and defended those plans before panels of established entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The graduating energy startups were members of the second cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Innovation Crossroads program, a two-year fellowship that supports energy entrepreneurs to take their inventions from R&D to commercialization. Innovation Crossroads is a business mentor partner of the Energy Mentor Network. The startups include:

Eonix – Don DeRosa is developing next generation electrolytes to lower the cost and size of ultracapacitor modules. The lower cost and smaller ultracapacitor modules, used with lithium ion batteries, can dramatically improve efficiency, range and longevity of hybrid and electric vehicles. Eonix developed a novel salt that reduces device resistance by 40 percent and increases capacitance by 10 percent. They were founded in 2014 and have raised $800,000 in grant funding. Don DeRosa, the Chief Technology Officer, found his peers through Innovation  Crossroads and the Energy Mentor Network to help his startup with work. “We all have our  enclave to bounce ideas off of and go through shared obstacles,” DeRosa said. “That’s one of the strengths of the program.”

Nth Cycle – Megan O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, is developing a system to cost-effectively recycle lithium-ion batteries to recover the high-value metals within. She said she found the Energy Mentor Network to really focus on tech and helped her develop her business model. “Overall, I thought the program was amazing, it really helped us prepare for our seed round investment.” Nth Cycle has raised $930,000 in non-dilutive capital since it was founded in 2017, and is currently in the process of closing a $3 million financing round.

TCPoly – Matthew Smith’s new class of high thermal conductivity plastic composite materials aim to improve heat dissipation, allowing for metal replacement and light-weighting, cost and component reductions, and improved performance and reliability. These materials can also be 3D printed, allowing thermal engineers to rapidly and inexpensively prototype multi-functional thermal solutions and enabling the design of heat transfer products that cannot be manufactured using traditional methods. Smith, co-founder and CEO, has helped the company raise $1 million in undiluted funds since it began in 2016. TCPoly holds five patents.

Lux Semiconductors – Shane McMahon, CEO of Lux Semiconductors, said that working through the Energy Mentor Network helped him identify ways to think about the business. “What the first product looks like,” he said, “and engage with potential partners.” The company is working to significantly improve the performance of large area, thin-film semiconductors through a patent pending recrystallization process. By leveraging a century of innovations in bulk crystal growth and applying them to low cost thin-films for the first time, Lux will deliver an entirely new class of flexible semiconductors to serve as a next generation material platform for integrated electronics. They’ve raised $1 million since being founded in 2017.

Ascend Manufacturing – Founder and CEO Justin Nussbaum developed a 3D printing technology called Large Area Projection Sintering (LAPS) for manufacturing technology. With LAPS, components can be economically created with drastically increased production rates, process a broader range of materials, provide superior mechanical properties and while fully integrating quality control and assurance measures. Through the mentor network he was able to access feedback. “All the mentors in the area provide that feedback to help you solve those problems,” he said. And Nussbaum had some advice for those who may enter the Energy Mentor Network in the future. “Always ask questions, even if they’re not about the program. And always feel free to reach out,” he said. “It’s a great area to build a company in, because of that assistance.” Ascend, founded in 2018, has raised $575,000. They have had 7 patent disclosures, 5 of which are related to the technology used at Ascend Manufacturing.

About the Energy Mentor Network

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee and is modeled after CONNECT San Diego’s 30+-year-old Springboard program. Each company or entrepreneur is matched with C-level executives who have deep experience in growing and scaling companies. The mentoring team is led by an Entrepreneur-in-Residence who coaches and guides each company through the program. The Energy Mentor Network has more than two dozen mentors with expertise in energy systems, clean tech, intellectual property, business and finance strategy. To learn more, go to tnadvancedenergy.com/energy-mentor-network/

Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council Praises TVA

TVA modifies energy program to provide more access to clean, advanced energy in the region

June 22, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– TVA announced modifications to its Flexibility Proposal that will provide greater access to advanced energy in the region. The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC), that champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy, issued the following statement from its executive director, Cortney Piper.

“The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council applauds TVA for responding to stakeholder input and market demands for more advanced energy options in a way that will allow our sector, and all sectors, of the economy to flourish. TAEBC mobilized its members and stakeholders to provide comments on this program, encouraging TVA to adopt a more technology-neutral approach to the flexible generation and procurement now being offered to local power companies in the Tennessee Valley. This news is a testament to the progress we are achieving together.”

The Flexibility Proposal gives local power companies (LPC) the opportunity to self-generate or procure distributed generation. Prior to the TVA-endorsed LPC Flexibility Proposal, LPC’s were restricted from generating or procuring their own energy from local, distributed sources, due to the limitations of the TVA wholesale power contract provisions.

This modification represents a potential increase of more than one gigawatt of distributed, advanced energy in the Valley. The notable increase comes from a change in solar energy calculations, which is the technology that appears to be in highest demand.   

“Economic development is at the core of TAEBC’s mission – enhancing public-private partnerships with local power companies is a huge next step forward in creating jobs and capital investment in the rural communities, and all communities, served by TVA,” added Piper.

TAEBC’s 2018 “Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report” found that nearly 360,000 Tennesseans are employed in the state’s advanced energy economy, it includes more than 18,000 businesses that contribute almost $40 billion to the state’s GDP.

About the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. It educates public officials and business leaders about the value and job creation potential of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establishes strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities, and informs policy that expands and strengthens the industry. For more information, visit www.tnadvancedenergy.com/

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Strata-G CEO & Founder Dan Hurst receives Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award

March 5, 2020

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) awarded Dan Hurst, CEO and Founder of Knoxville-based Strata-G, with the annual Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award that’s associated with Tom Ballard’s name. Tom has been a good friend and mentor, showing me how hard work and creativity can strengthen Tennessee’s advanced energy ecosystem,” said Hurst. “For TAEBC to give me this award that symbolizes his commitment to championing our advanced energy economy to such success today is truly humbling.”

(From L to R): Trish Starkey, President of TAEBC; Dan Hurst, CEO & Founder of Strata-G; Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC

Hurst founded Strata-G in 2002, leading the company and its 240 employees by example by focusing on a diversity of advanced energy projects committed to improving Tennessee’s communities, contributing to the state’s advanced energy economy, and ensuring the wellbeing of Tennesseans everywhere.

“As a founding board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” noted Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “His dedication and commitment to building a new organization that represents an entire industry that makes Tennessee a better state in which to live, work and play is truly admirable. That same vision and devotion have enabled Dan to lead and grow a successful business in East Tennessee that embraces energy innovation, environmental stewardship and sustainability.”

Strata-G projects range from managing the University of Tennessee’s West Tennessee Solar Farm, to helping construct an energy efficient steam plant and energy distribution system for a facility in North Dakota. Strata-G engineers have also collaborated with utility districts in Sevier County and Knoxville to convert their fleet vehicles to Combined Natural Gas. In 2013, the company completed documentation to achieve LEED Gold for the Crawford House, a 137-year old building at Maryville College on the National Register of Historic Places, the second oldest building in the U.S. to achieve LEED Gold.

The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

Submitted: Dan Hurst, CEO & Founder of Strata-G

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council champions the state’s advanced energy economy as an economic development and job creation strategy through sharing information, connecting stakeholders, and strengthening the industry. These pillars are personally exemplified by Tom Ballard, an unparalleled leader, educator, mentor, and advocate of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

Ballard was TAEBC’s first president upon its launch in 2014 and served on the board of directors until 2019. He is the Chief Alliance Officer of Pershing Yoakley & Associates, a Knoxville-based professional services firm with a national footprint in healthcare consulting. He also serves as editor of Teknovation.biz, a web-based service launched in 2011 to spotlight and celebrate all things related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Tennessee.

The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award is an annual award, with TAEBC accepting nominations every year and presenting the winner with the honor at its annual meeting.

About the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. It educates public officials and business leaders about the value and job creation potential of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establishes strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities, and informs policy that expands and strengthens the industry. For more information, visit www.tnadvancedenergy.com/

To view a list of TAEBC members, visit www.tnadvancedenergy.com/members/

About Strata-G

Strata-G, LLC is a team of approximately 240 engineers, scientists, safety professionals, and project managers dedicated to the responsible care of client entrusted resources in the environmental, energy, defense, utilities, and infrastructure sectors. Strata-G’s business is built on three core values of integrity, service, and quality. Each is the outgrowth of the one ideal that guides the company: treat other people as you wish to be treated.  For more information, visit https://www.stratag.org/