VA Target Market Specialist Meryl Harris says one of her goals is to closely look at the technologies emerging in all of her target clean energy industries and then see how well the work and curricula at the state’s higher education and research institutions matches up.
So far, so good.
A spreadsheet she shared with me shows no fewer than 33 different courses of study, research centers, certificates and programs. Among them:
The University of Tennessee, of course, is among them. In fiscal year 2021, UT reported research expenditures that totaled $316 million, as UT researchers generated 137 invention disclosures and the university supported the creation and growth of more than 30 promising high-tech ventures. UT’s largest research portfolio is in advanced energy, where the university consistently ranks sixth in the nation. Among the university’s assets is the Spark Innovation Center’s Cleantech Accelerator, which will welcome applications for its next cohort in January 2023. UT also boasts the 150-acre University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm.
Just up I-75 sits the ultimate asset: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle. Among recent discoveries relevant to the clean energy future of TVA territory are a cleaner, cheaper, more efficient method for making a new class of high-capacity cathode material without cobalt and battery electrolyte technology that ORNL has exclusively licensed to Safire Technology Group. Safire, a battery technology startup formerly known as BTRY, plans to locate facilities in East Tennessee as part of its plan to commercialize the liquid-to-solid battery technology.
“Improving battery technology is critical to building a clean energy future for our country,” said Susan Hubbard, ORNL deputy for science and technology. “This technology has implications for several industries, ultimately making battery systems safer, more efficient and more stable.”