Submit nominations for the 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award!

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is now accepting nominations for the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. The annual award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

TAEBC 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 the tireless work of 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. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award is an annual award, accepting nominations every year and presenting the winner with the honor at future annual meetings. This year’s winner will be announced at TAEBC’s 2021 Annual Meeting, held virtually on March 25, 2021.

In 2019, TAEBC bestowed the first-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award to Ballard himself, during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. Read more here. Last year, 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. Read more here.

Please fill out the information here, and we’ll contact you if your nomination has been selected as the winner.

The extended deadline to submit your nominations is Monday, March 8, 2021.

PYA launches Ballard Innovation Award

Knoxville-based PYA recently launched a $50,000 Ballard Innovation Award in honor of Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and long-term ally of the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community. In a video announcing the award, PYA Director of Business Alliances referred to Ballard as “the king of entrepreneurship.” 

According to PYA’s announcement, the Ballard Innovation Award competition is open to any early-stage company in the East Tennessee region that has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue. Applications will open in January 2021 and an award presentation for the top three finalists will take place in March. Here are applicant qualifications for the award:

  • Is located in the geographic East Tennessee area (33 counties as defined by the state of TN) – metro areas include Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri-Cities;
  • Has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue (as outlined);
  • Has achieved between $5,000 and $50,000 in monthly recurring revenues (annualized revenues of between $60,000 – $600,000 and must be “non-grant” revenue from independent customers);
  • Has a business plan to optimize existing business operations by reducing costs, increasing revenues, and/or gaining new efficiencies;
  • Can demonstrate clear innovations that will improve the business;
  • Has a focus on empowering the consumer to become more informed and engaged.

“To say that the ‘PYA Ballard Innovation Award’ was totally unexpected when I was told about it in early November would be a gross understatement,” wrote Ballard in Teknovation.biz about the award. He continued, writing, “More businesses need to get off the sidelines and in the game, helping innovative companies succeed in their communities, and I am so honored to be associated with PYA which is doing its part to help grow the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial assets of this region,.”

In 2019, TAEBC awarded Ballard the first-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. 

“Without Tom Ballard, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council would have never grown to the level of success it experiences today,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “It’s impossible to measure Tom’s impact on Tennessee’s advanced energy economy with words alone, and for that reason he is most deserving of having an award being named in his honor.”

Learn more about PYA’s Ballard Innovation Award competition here and watch the announcement video below.

Thank you for submitting your Tom Ballard Award nominations!

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) wants to thank everyone who submitted nominations for this year’s Tom Ballard Award. Nominations closed on Monday, February 3 at noon.

TAEBC received multiple nominations from an impressive array of individuals, including local business leaders, academia, and company executives. The winner will be contacted soon. 

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

TAEBC promotes 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 the tireless work of 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 currently the Chief Alliance Officer of Pershing Yoakley & Associates and serves as editor of Teknovation.biz, an online service launched in 2011 to spotlight and celebrate all things related to technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Tennessee.

The first-ever award went to Ballard himself, during TAEBC’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Franklin, Tennessee.

“Without Tom Ballard, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council would have never grown to the level of success it experiences today,” said Cortney Piper, vice president and executive director of TAEBC. “It’s impossible to measure Tom’s impact on Tennessee’s advanced energy economy with words alone, and for that reason he is most deserving of having an award being named in his honor.”

This year’s recipient will receive the award during TAEBC’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. If you would like to attend, please RSVP by following this link.

Nth Cycle all about recycling to provide secondary source for rare earth materials

(NOTE: This is the second article in a five-part series spotlighting the work of the second cohort of start-ups comprising Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Innovation Crossroads” initiative. They arrived in the area in May to begin their two-year effort to further advance their early stage energy-focuses companies.)

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Megan O’Connor has adopted the mantra that all investors like to hear. She’s “all in” as it relates to Nth Cycle, the start-up company that provides a recycling technology to enable a secondary source of rare earth and specialty metals for a sustainable, secure energy future.

And, in spite of several detours along the way – one academic, another a “fork-in-the-road” career decision, and the third a difficult technology problem not solved until the proverbial 11th hour – O’Connor is very optimistic about the future several months into her fellowship as part of the second cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” initiative.

The Plattsburgh, NY native says her interest in entrepreneurship began while an undergraduate student at Union College near Albany, NY. “I wanted to build a technology to solve a big problem,” O’Connor explained.

She went from Union College to Duke University in Durham, NC where, halfway through her doctoral work, O’Connor’s advisor left for Yale University. That individual was Desiree Plata.

“Desiree’s passion for teaching and the environment was the right fit for me personally,” O’Connor says, so she followed the inspirational advisor to New Haven, CT where she finished her academic work at Yale, but graduated with her doctorate from Duke.

Read more here.

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.