ORNL unveils five entrepreneurs, four companies in inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” cohort

NOTE: This article was originally published on Teknovation.biz by Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer of PYA.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) set a goal of finding up to five of the nation’s top young energy innovators and, by all accounts, it appears the recruiting team has achieved its goal with the inaugural cohort for the “Innovation Crossroads.”

ORNL leaders publicly unveiled the four start-ups at an event yesterday in Oak Ridge attended by the innovators, researchers with whom they will be working, and two top administrators from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Related: New accelerator program “Innovation Crossroads” to advanced energy technology ideas

“If you look five, 10, 15 or 20 years ahead, where is the innovation going to come from to continue our nation’s economic growth,” Mark Johnson, Director of DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, asked. His answer was “programs like this.” Joining Johnson from DOE headquarters was Johanna Wolfson, Director of the Technology-to-Market Program.

In a conversation ahead of the event, Johnson described “Innovation Crossroads” and two similar programs at other DOE labs as a post-doc program. After all, the five innovators have either earned their Ph.Ds. or are in the process of completing them.

For ORNL, yesterday’s announcement was the culmination of a process that began more than six months ago with a solicitation of applications. Day-to-day responsibility for “Innovation Crossroads” is being handled by Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development, and Beth Conerty, Program Lead for Entrepreneurial Support and Development.

As described in this September 20 article from teknovation.biz, the program is part of a DOE effort to help accelerate clean energy technologies in an era of substantially limited venture capital. The ORNL initiative is the third in DOE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP). The pilot, named “Cyclotron Road,” was tested at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a second program, named “Chain Reaction Innovations,” started last year at Argonne National Laboratory.

Read the full article here.

ORNL welcomes Innovation Crossroads innovators

Oak Ridge National Laboratory welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region’s first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Innovation Crossroads, announced in the fall of 2016, is one of DOE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs that embed top technical talent within national labs as entrepreneurial research fellows with the express goal of subsequently launching businesses. The program’s dual focus on early-stage R&D and entrepreneurial development enables the innovators, selected through an open merit-based process, to transform their breakthrough ideas into U.S.-based companies. The two-year fellowship provides a cost-of-living stipend, comprehensive business development plan assistance, and up to $350,000 to use on collaborative R&D at ORNL, the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory.

The Innovation Crossroads entrepreneurial research fellows will have access to world-class scientists and DOE facilities at ORNL, including the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, the National Transportation Research Center, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and the Spallation Neutron Source. Through the program and partnerships with mentor organizations in the Southeast, fellows will also receive assistance with developing business strategies, conducting market research, and finding long-term financing and potential commercial partners.

Click here to read the full announcement.

Click here to learn more about the innovators.

Introduction to Innovation Crossroads Innovators

Introducing the Innovation Crossroads Innovators

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET

Oak Ridge National Lab

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and Launch Tennessee invite you to meet Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads innovators as we introduce them to the Energy Mentor Network and our mentors.

Lunch will be served.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Christopher Miller

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

This week TAEBC is highlighting Christopher Miller. He serves as the CFO of Three Roots Capital. Since 2003, Chris has been involved in growing and funding exceptional companies across the U.S. Southeast. With experiences ranging from community development venture capital to managing a small and middle market loan portfolio, Chris has the background and skills to work with a diverse range of transaction structures and borrowers.

TAEBC is continuing to accept mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Ira Weiss

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

This week TAEBC is highlighting Ira Weiss. He serves as principal of Weiss Associates. He’s also a Finance Executive with over 35 years of decisive and successful financial management experience, including the clean tech sector. His extensive finance and operations expertise, audit and procedural accounting background, along with his extensive information systems and analytical skills have enabled him to meet corporate goals and produce results on time and within budget.

He also currently serves as a board member at green|spaces “Building a Sustainable Chattanooga.”

TAEBC is continuing to accept mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.