Innovation Crossroads cohort one is winding down. Here are updates on their progress.

As Oak Ridge National Laboratory finalizes selections for the third cohort in its “Innovation Crossroads” program that accelerates new energy start-ups, Teknovation.biz wanted to provide an update on the three members of the inaugural cohort. They arrived here in May 2017 and will complete their two-year Fellowships soon. Here are updates from SkyNano’s Anna Douglas:

  • When you were selected for the inaugural cohort of ORNL’s “Innovation Crossroads” program, how would you describe the state of your technology and where you were in standing-up a start-up?At the time we were selected, we had just filed the legal framework for setting-up a start-up and were still working through a lot of the market analysis. We had demonstrated initial proof of concept at Vanderbilt for the use of the technology to produce carbon nanotubes ~ 23 nm in diameter.

 

  • Now, more than three-fourths of the way through the two-year experience, how would you answer the question?We learned a LOT through customer discovery during the first six months of the program, which led to a pivot from our initial technical focus, and are now fully committed to scaling the technology in the next 12 months and getting samples out into the marketplace. At this point, we have doubled our team with the addition of two full-time team members who have been instrumental in the technical progress we’ve made towards scaling our electrochemical growth process.

Read more at Teknovation.biz. Here are updates from Active Energy Systems and Yellowstone Energy.

TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

TN Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report: Snapshot of media coverage

On June 17, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council released the Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report, the first document of its kind that defines the scope and scale of Tennessee’s advanced energy sector and quantifies its economic impact.

The report received statewide media coverage and recognition of advanced energy as an economic driver for Tennessee and a source of high quality jobs. It was distributed to more than 200 local, state and national economic development stakeholders.

Here’s a snapshot of the media coverage from the report release, with links to the full stories. Enjoy!

Tennessee could be a major player in $200B advanced energy economy (Knoxville News Sentinel)
“Tennessee is poised to take a significant chunk of the nation’s $200 billion advanced energy sector according to a new report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. The state’s advanced energy sector employs nearly 325,000 individuals…and the jobs pay well above the state average.”

Advanced energy industry grows in Tennessee (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
“Much of the growth in Tennessee is being driven by the automotive industry, which is working to reach a fleet average mileage standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.”

Report: Tennessee leader in ‘advanced energy’ (The Tennessean)
“’We see advanced energy as an economic driver, especially in rural areas,’ said Steve Bares, president and executive director of Memphis Bioworks Foundation.”

New report tracks Tennessee’s economic impact in ‘advanced energy’ sector (Kingsport Times-News)
“Advanced energy provides a home for Tennessee’s emerging workforce as the state attempts to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by 2025.”

Study: Advanced energy business contributes $33.4 billion to state GDP (Memphis Business Journal)
“Schneider Electric’s Jim Plourde said compiling the information was important for increasing visibility, highlighting Tennessee as a leader in the field, showcasing opportunities to an emerging workforce and driving the economy.”

Budding advanced energy sector grows in Tennessee (Nooga.com)
“The [advanced energy] industry provides opportunities for entrepreneurs. A developing sector means ripe opportunities for new ideas and businesses.”

TAEBC releases first-ever look at state’s advanced energy sector (Teknovation.biz)
“Advanced energy is a lucrative growth sector and a source of high quality jobs in the Volunteer State, according to a new report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).”

Schneider Electric among state leaders in advanced energy sector (Daily News Journal)
“’National studies show rapid growth that outpaces the rest of the economy,’ said Matt Murray, with the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, which produced the report. He added it also found employment growth in the sector was more robust than any other sector from 2012 to 2013.”

Renewable Algal Energy has won four Small Business Innovation Research awards

TAEBC member Renewable Algal Energy (RAE) was featured in a two-part series on Teknovation.biz for its successful use of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to scale its business model.

RAE’s CEO, Jeff Kanel, has been very focused and purposeful in using the SBIR program to strategically advance the company.

Kanel describes his keys for success in submitting and winning the awards: utilization of solid project management tools, inclusion of well-defined milestones and deliverables, and a clear understanding of the critical success factors.

RAE has created what is describes as “novel breakthrough technology to produce a sustainable, economically viable product from micro algae.” Those offerings range from algal oil as a feedstock for renewable diesel fuel to protein, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids for animal and human nutrition.

“Our model is to be a technology licensor,” said Kanel. “We are trying to make algae a profitable endeavor that also solves a lot of global problems.”

Three of the four SBIRs that Kanel submitted were directly related to evolving RAE’s technology. The fourth, also focused on algae, was submitted by Kanel before RAE was founded.

Over a roughly six-year period, RAE has successfully won Phase I, II and III awards that have proven the viability of the technology, helped fund work to validate the financial model and scalability of the technology, and deploy a semi-works facility.

Today, RAE has strategic relationships, customers, and a technology proving ground in Arizona as well as a North-American developer with a site that is permitted for the deployment of RAE Technology.

“By going through the SBIR Phase I, we matched-up a proof on concept (that showed) what we were doing had a chance of success,” Kanel said. The proposal was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2007. The award and work were conducted in 2008.

Phase II, again funded by DOE, ran from 2009 to 2012, with RAE collecting considerable amounts of data to show financial viability and technology scalability.

“We were moving the proof of concept to commercialization,” Kanel says in describing that period.

Phase III, which ran from 2012 into 2014, was an accelerator period when RAE deployed the technology in a semi-works scale effort designed to reduce the technology risk. This final phase helped RAE to secure contracts with interested partners.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series on the Teknovation.biz website to learn more about why and how SBIRs had a solid impact on RAE’s development.