Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
June 06, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Spark meets the need: More labs spaces to open in Knoxville this year

The UT Research Park is the driving force behind the increased lab space initiatives in East TN.

The Spark Innovation Center announced the opening of new lab spaces for hardtech startups at the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Park. This news comes as applications for new start-ups to join the Spark Incubator are now open, with a deadline of September 10. Accepted companies will be able to occupy the new state-of-the-art lab spaces this fall.

The new lab spaces will be located in Innovation South, a building currently under construction in the UT Research Park. Three of those lab spaces will be dedicated to tenants of the Spark Incubator, with each space set up to be shared between two startup companies. This arrangement will allow the Incubator to accommodate up to six startups.

Who should apply?

The Incubator supports companies working in advanced technologies such as clean energy, mobility, advanced materials, and manufacturing. In addition to high-quality lab space, Spark Incubator tenants will have access to shared equipment and facilities, expert mentorship, commercialization training, and strategic connections, joining an innovation community with other local tech founders.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to welcome new startups to the Spark Incubator,” said Lilly Tench, Director of the Spark Innovation Center. “Together with the current Spark labs in the Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (IAMM), we will be able to provide space for up to 12 companies. This is an important piece of growing the local startup ecosystem.”

Why is the lab space important?

The demand for lab spaces for startup companies in Knoxville led to the founding of the Spark Innovation Center in 2020. Since then, Spark has supported 29 companies through its incubator and accelerator programs. These companies have collectively raised over $73 million and created 108 jobs, with 76 percent of the companies remaining in East Tennessee.

One of those companies is Sky Nano, which hosted a ribbon cutting for its new state-of-the-art facility in Louisville, TN. Anna Douglas, the company’s Founder said Spark was crucial to Sky Nano’s success. She shared the importance of lab space, especially for early stage start-ups.

“High-quality lab space at an accessible rate is very hard to come by for startups. The Spark Incubator played an important part in our ability to stay and grow here in the region,” Douglas said.

The new lab spaces at Innovation South represent a significant expansion for the UT Spark Innovation Center, further solidifying its role in supporting and growing the local startup ecosystem.

Start-ups interested in joining the Spark Incubator can apply now, with the selection process concluding in early September.

Apply for the Spark Incubator.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!