Tom Rogers, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Tennessee Research Park (UTRP) and Executive Director of the Spark Innovation Center, was awarded the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council‘s (TAEBC) top award.
The “Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award” was presented to the longtime leader in the local economic development community during TAEBC’s annual “Opportunities in Energy” forum held yesterday in Knoxville. The annual award, named for PYA‘s Chief Alliance Officer and Editor-in-Chief of teknovation.biz, celebrates leadership, education, mentoring and advocacy in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. Ballard was TAEBC’s first President upon its launch in 2014 and served on the board of directors until 2019.
“Tom Rogers is a champion for Tennessee’s advanced energy entrepreneurs and start-ups,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “Throughout his entire career, much of which was spent at ‘the big three’ – TVA, ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and UT (University of Tennessee) – he has been instrumental in growing the East Tennessee and Knoxville region into the burgeoning cleantech and innovation hub that it is today. Rogers exemplifies the tireless work of Tom Ballard, an unparalleled leader, educator, mentor, and advocate of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.”
Rogers started his career at TVA, eventually moving to the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce as its President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1995, he helped found Technology 2020, the region’s first venture development organization and served as its top executive for more than a decade. During that time, he also served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (now Launch Tennessee).
Prior to joining UTRP, he spent another decade plus at ORNL, serving as the Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development and founding the Innovation Crossroads program. At UTRP, Rogers oversees the Spark Innovation Center and its programs including the new “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” and “Spark Incubator Program.” The Center helps promising energy technology companies grow, offering access to top quality lab space, expert mentoring, and coordinating support services from partner organizations in the region.
Rogers is the fourth recipient of the award. Ballard was the first in 2019 followed by Dan Hurst, Founder of Strata-G in 2020, and then Commissioner Bob Rolfe of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in 2021.