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.

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.

TAEBC members participate in Knoxville Entrepreneur Roundtable

Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council members Mary Shafer Gill of ARiES Energy and Tom Ballard of Pershing Yoakley & Associates participated in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Roundtable on November 7, 2014 at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

The panelists discussed how startup companies succeed and what factors are influencing entrepreneurship in the area. Perhaps the most captivating questions of the afternoon: “How can Knoxville grow into becoming the South’s mecca for entrepreneurship?”

Click here for a recap of the Roundtable, as told through the eyes of Cameo Jonas, a University of Tennessee student who attended the event.