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February 29, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Spark Cleantech Accelerator is accepting applications

The application deadline is May 15, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The University of Tennessee Research Park announced that applications are open for the fall Spark Cleantech Accelerator program. The 12-week program is designed to propel early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs to the forefront of their industry. It offers a unique opportunity for startups to refine their business strategies, develop crucial connections, and access invaluable resources.

The program is scheduled to kick off on August 19, 2024, and run until mid-November.

By the program’s conclusion, companies will have honed their business plans, developed minimum viable products, established robust financial strategies, and crafted compelling pitches. This holistic approach ensures that graduates emerge with enhanced capabilities and actionable strategies to attract capital and fuel growth in their ventures.

Participants of the accelerator will receive a host of benefits:

  • An equity-free $15,000 stipend to support living expenses and business milestones.
  • Expert mentoring and support across various business and technical disciplines, facilitated in partnership with the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.
  • Direct connections with a network of customers, investors, and partners.
  • Specialized training, workshops, and individual meetings.
  • Opportunities for strategic partnerships with key organizations such as UT, Knoxville (UTK), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC), the City of Knoxville, and more.

Spark Cleantech Accelerator seeks applications from U.S.-based entrepreneurs committed to addressing critical challenges such as energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy generation, carbon capture, and promoting circular economy initiatives. Applicants must be prepared to relocate to Knoxville for the duration of the program, demonstrating a dedication to leveraging the unique resources and partnerships available in the region.

Lilly Tench, Director of the Spark Innovation Center, expressed enthusiasm for the program’s impact.

“In the first three years of operation, companies in the Spark Incubator and Accelerator have raised a total of $55.9 million, created 57 jobs, and hosted 34 interns,” she said. “It’s a privilege to support a new cohort as they build on this success, advance their businesses, and navigate the unique resources of the region.”

The Spark Cleantech Accelerator is made possible through the collaborative efforts of UTK, the City of Knoxville, ORNL, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Launch Tennessee, the TAEBC, and the Truist Foundation. Additionally, the accelerator works closely with Innovation Crossroads, the Innov865 Alliance, and the Heartland Climate Tech Partnership to maximize support and resources for participants.

Cleantech entrepreneurs can find more information here. Please email questions to

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