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.

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