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September 19, 2017 | Tom Ballard

ORNL accepting applications for second “Innovation Crossroads” cohort

innovation-crossroadsBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced at yesterday’s “Technov865” forum that it is seeking another group of young entrepreneurs for its energy-focused “Innovation Crossroads” program.

The initiative, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program, is designed to help accelerate the introduction of advanced energy and manufacturing technologies through start-ups that draw on DOE expertise.

Participants in the inaugural “Innovation Crossroads” cohort presented their start-ups to attendees during yesterday’s joint forum that spotlighted innovative technologies from ORNL, the University of Tennessee, and TVA. It was part of the second annual “Innov865 Week” celebration.

The new initiative was announced about a year ago, when recruitment for the first cohort began. That recruitment ultimately produced three start-ups willing to relocate to Knoxville for two years where they would work with ORNL researchers to advance their technologies toward successful commercialization.

The trio of start-ups was composed of students that had just completed or were in the process of completing their doctorates. Two students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one each from Cornell and Vanderbilt Universities comprised the inaugural cohort.

“We have been really pleased with the progress these entrepreneurs have made since they arrived in Knoxville several months ago,” said Tom Rogers, ORNL’s Director of Industrial and Economic Development Partnerships. “They are really bright and engaged, and we are excited to start recruitment for the second cohort.”

The online application opened yesterday, almost a year after the program was formally announced as described in this September 21, 2016 article. Here’s the link to apply.

Rogers said the criteria for the second cohort are basically the same with one exception. For cohort two, applicants must have completed all of the requirements for their doctorate which means successfully defending their dissertation at a minimum or actually having been awarded their Ph.D.

The other eligibility criteria include applicants must focus on energy or manufacturing technologies, the project must leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and impact DOE missions positively, applicants must be first-time founders, the entrepreneur has to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region for the two-year period, and the individual must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

ORNL is holding a webinar for interested individuals at 2 p.m. EDT on September 28. To register, click here.

“The application deadline is October 30,” Rogers said. “We will begin a lengthy review process immediately after we close applications and hope to have selected the cohort soon after the beginning of 2018.”

The selected entrepreneurs will arrive in Oak Ridge to start the two-year program in May 2018.

“There’s a lot of outreach we are doing,” Rogers said. “We are recruiting from the top engineering schools across the country.”

Click here to read the official ORNL release.

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