These are exciting times for Anna Douglas and SkyNano

(Crossposted from

This is a pretty exciting time for Anna Douglas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SkyNano LLC, a member of the first cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” (IC) program.

She just won two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants that total $2.7 million, including cost share for one, and has two other smaller projects lined-up for the start-up founded in January 2017 and focused on manufacturing of low-cost, high-value carbon materials from carbon dioxide.

It’s an understatement to say there are a lot of moving parts for SkyNano right now, but they align very well with the long-term goals of the recent Vanderbilt University PhD who quickly became the public face of the IC initiative shortly after her arrival in Knoxville in May 2017.

“These are two pretty different projects,” Douglas says of the DOE-funded activities. One is a Phase I $200,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award that was announced May 20 as part of a $53 million package; the other, announced June 16, is a $2.5 million research and development project that requires a $500,000 cost-share match. SkyNano was one of 11 recipients of the latter that distributed $17 million with most of it going to universities including three awards alone to institutions in Kentucky.

Keep reading Anna Douglas’ full story.

ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads energy startup accelerator preps for Cohort 3

(Originally published on Venture Nashville Connections)

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It’s never easy being a startup, and for startup energy companies the path to commercial viability has become increasingly difficult.

Innovation Crossroads was born in 2016 to address the struggle of getting typically R&D-heavy technologies to market, said Tom Rogers, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s industrial and economic development partnerships division and leader of the program.

“The national venture investments in energy start-ups have been declining over the past 10 years,” said Rogers.

Compared to other types of technology, such as software applications, it can take “seven, eight, 10 years” for these technologies to mature, he said. Getting funding in the early start-up phase helps developers prove the concept and become a more viable opportunity for investors, he said.

“I don’t think any of the companies are going to be revenue positive at the end of a two-year period,” Rogers said. “Our goal is a path forward.”

The Innovation Crossroads start-ups are tackling a range of energy-related problems. Concepts range from storage systems to materials to a low-cost, easy-to-build nuclear reactor to recycling. They come from institutions including Cornell, Duke, Georgia Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt.

Read more here.