By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) formally unveiled its new Energy Mentor Network during yesterday’s annual “Opportunities in Energy” forum.
More than 80 people attended the afternoon event at The Square Room on Market Square in Downtown Knoxville. Featured panelists who participated in the opening fireside chat were Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency with the U.S. Department of Energy, and Bryan Dods, newly named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IACMI – The Composites Institute.
The Network, run by TAEBC in partnership with Launch Tennessee, is patterned after the highly successful network launched two years ago by Life Science Tennessee. The overall goal is to support energy-focused entrepreneurs by pairing them with experienced mentors and engaging them in a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions. The Network will use videoconferencing to engage and connect mentors and entrepreneurs across the State.
“Tennessee is uniquely positioned to be a mecca of energy entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Matt Kisber, President of TAEBC and President and CEO of Silicon Ranch Corporation. “The Energy Mentor Network is yet another tool Tennessee can leverage to gain for our state more than its fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.”
During the opening panel, Dods told the attendees he had a simple goal for IACMI: “The nation comes to Knoxville for composites is where we want to go.” His emphasis on the importance of IACMI to the region and the nation was underscored by Hogan’s comments.
“We’re really excited about what these hubs or institutes can do,” she said of IACMI and others in an emerging, federally-enabled public-private partnership network designed to address the nation’s manufacturing competitiveness. “These institutes were modelled after what Germany has done for a long-time with its fraunhofers.”
The Fraunhofer Society for the Advancement of Applied Research is an organization with 67 institutes spread throughout Germany, each focusing on different fields of applied science. Some basic funding is provided by the government, but more than 70 percent of the funding is earned through contract work, either for government-sponsored projects or from industry.
Also during yesterday’s event, TAEBC unveiled three new videos about the advanced energy sector in the state. Those videos can be found here. Each preceded a panel discussion spotlighting Tennessee companies and initiatives.
The successes shared during those panel conversations ranged from Schneider Electric selecting Tennessee for a regional office and creating 250 new jobs, to LeMond Composites creating more than 200 jobs with a revolutionary low-cost carbon fiber technology that will help the automotive industry reach 54.5 mpg; Oak Ridge National Lab’s Innovation Crossroads that will support the next generation of energy entrepreneurs and move innovation from the lab to the marketplace; Bridgestone Americas latest tire option that improves fuel efficiency, and Centrus Energy maintaining and advancing U.S. gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology.
You can learn more about the new network by reading TAEBC’s news release (energy-mentor-network-release).