By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
How many of you have wanted the opportunity to learn more about the science and technology assets of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to see if there was a good opportunity for collaboration with your enterprise?
I know that I heard that request hundreds of times during my second career at the lab. Well, guess what? Your chance is coming-up on July 14 and 15.
The S & T Partnerships Directorate is hosting “Explore ORNL,” an event where those in business can better understand some of the more exciting opportunity areas and learn how other companies are finding collaborations to be beneficial.
“We’ve tried every couple of years to have an awareness event,” said Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial and Economic Development Partnerships, adding that these sessions are particularly important because “the lab is evolving so rapidly.”
In the past, he said the programs have been aimed primarily at entrepreneurs starting companies. The “Explore ORNL” event is designed for anyone in business – from the start-up to the established company seeking advantages in the always competitive landscape.
“The Department of Energy is placing increased emphasis on manufacturing,” Rogers said, citing the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Carbon Fiber Technology Facility, and recently announced Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.
The same emphasis holds true for the State of Tennessee with something named RevV. Officially known as the Tennessee Manufacturing Innovation Program, RevV makes it easier for Tennessee manufacturers to access researchers and facilities at ORNL.
“This is not a tech push,” Rogers emphasized. Instead, the “Explore ORNL” program is being designed to help attendees better understand ORNL’s capabilities in selected areas while also interacting with industry leaders who are collaborating with lab researchers.
The technology areas of emphasis include transportation, material characterization, neutron imaging, sensors, high performance computing, composites manufacturing, and 3D printing.
“For each area, we will have representatives from one or two companies collaborating with the lab discuss their experience,” Rogers said. Two of those speakers are local executives – Jay Rogers, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Local Motors, and Ed Steinebach, General Manager of Eagle Bend Manufacturing, Inc., in Clinton.
With automotive such a significant economic driver in Tennessee and the region, there are several speakers focused on that topic. They include Mark Muro, Senior Fellow and Policy Director for the Brookings Institution, and Kim Ketchum, President of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA). Brookings issued a report in late 2013 outlining strategies for continued growth of the industry in the state.
TAMA and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) are working with ORNL on the event. There is a registration fee to attend, but TAMA and TAEBC members receive a discount.