Innovation Crossroads, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is the Southeast’s only entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory. Innovation Crossroads was founded to address the critical national need to accelerate the applied research, development and deployment of physical-science based technologies (e.g., materials and manufacturing) capable of transforming the nation’s energy systems. Acceleration of these technologies from scientific laboratory to potentially commercialize-able opportunities requires the simultaneous performance of collaborative research and development of technologies and the entrepreneurial development of the innovators working on these technologies.
Innovation Crossroads, supported by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and Tennessee Valley Authority, is an innovation program that serves as a platform for supporting and mentoring entrepreneurial researchers whose early-stage innovations are presently too challenging or technically uncertain to pursue in a venture capital-financed startup. Innovation Crossroads embeds innovators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for up to two years through entrepreneurial mentorship and cooperative research and development. This unique fellowship opportunity allows selected innovators to leverage the Labs unique scientific facilities, equipment, capabilities, and experts to advance their early stage scientific discoveries into potentially commercialize-able opportunities within an accelerated time period.
Technology innovators are selected into the program through an annual competition. The Innovation Crossroads program intends to provide selected technology innovators with scientific/technical mentorship and access to unique R&D assets and scientific expertise at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a DOE national laboratory, to incubate and translate innovations from proof-of-concept to proof-of-product.
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office
Mission: Catalyze research, development and adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and practices to drive U.S. economic competitiveness and energy production.
Tennessee Valley Authority
Mission: Support investments in technologies to achieve a shared integrated grid: a power system that is highly flexible, resilient, and connected and that optimizes energy production, delivery, and use by integrating utility and customer owned resources.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Mission: Deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs needed to realize solutions in energy and national security and provide economic benefit to the nation.
Innovation Crossroads will help selected innovators in the physical sciences and energy technologies to mature their early-stage innovations. The Department of Energy and Tennessee Valley Authority will provide funding to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to support selected innovators in developing their technology. Additionally, program sponsors will provide an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship to the selected innovators for the first year, with the possibility of renewal, subject to a one-year review, for support up to a total of 2 years through this program. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is presently searching for innovators for its fifth cohort of the Innovation Crossroads program. Benefits to selected innovators may include up to 24 months of Innovation Crossroads resources (subject to performance and availability of funding) including the following:
- A two-year fellowship – Innovators receive a yearly living stipend of $78,900 to $89,000, along with a health insurance stipend and travel allowance.
- World-class lab access and research funding – In addition to unparalleled access to facilities, research tools, equipment, and expertise at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, innovators receive R&D funding to support collaboration opportunities with researchers across the lab.
- Business mentors, entrepreneurial training, and networking – Innovators receive access to experienced business mentors, entrepreneurial training programs, and exclusive networking opportunities. Innovators are also exposed to a wide range of leaders from academia, industry, government, and finance that can serve as advisors and partners.
- Applications open: September 15, 2020 at 8:00 am (EDT)
- Applications close: October 31, 2020 at 8:00 pm (EDT)
- Initial application review: November 2020
Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Crossroads team, as well as scientific and industry subject matter experts
- Phone interviews: December 2020
Based on initial review, selected applicants will be invited to conduct a brief phone screen with the Innovation Crossroads team.
- In-person interviews: January/February 2021
Interviewees will be invited to visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory to tour facilities, connect with potential collaborators, principal investigators and mentors, and present for our team of reviewers.
- Cohort five selected: March/April 2021
- Cohort five starts at Innovation Crossroads: June 2021
For acceptance into the program, applicants:
- Must apply as individuals, not as companies or organizations
- Must have PhD or equivalent experience
- Must leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and have an impact on the Department of Energy (DOE) and/or Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) mission
- Must be willing to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area for 2-years
- Must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident at time of application
- Acceptance into Innovation Crossroads requires the execution/approval of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Must successfully execute a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Technology Areas of Interest:
Innovators must focus on an emerging technology that will advance the development of clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and/or a shared integrated grid. Innovation Crossroads seeks entrepreneurs advancing technologies to overcome complex scientific challenges that require a lengthy development cycle of about two years to reach the pre-commercial prototype stage.
Potential technology areas of interest identified by our sponsors include:
- Advanced Materials
- Clean Energy
- Grid Modernization
- National Security
- Neutron Science
- Nuclear Science
Applications should consist of a single PDF document containing the following information:
- Resume (one page)
Please provide a resume highlighting your education, experience, and skills.
- Tell us about yourself (one page)
Provide the back story on you and your project. Where did the idea originate? What is the current status of your technology and team? Why do you want to pursue this effort and what makes you qualified to do so? Explain why you have chosen to pursue an entrepreneurial career path.
- Project abstract (one page)
Briefly describe how you envision making your technology a market reality. Please describe the market you intend to reach, its customers, potential suppliers/distributors/manufacturers, relevant intellectual property (status of any licenses, etc.), barriers to entry, sophistication of market, market incumbents, etc.
- Tell us about your technology concept (two pages)
Describe the technology concept you want to pursue. Use the Heilmeier catechism as a guide for what’s most relevant.
- What is the potential impact on the DOE, TVA, and/or ORNL mission? (one paragraph)
Please comment on the potential for impact on U.S. energy and manufacturing competitiveness. More specifically on the potential for impact on the sponsor’s mission area for your primary application track.
- Why ORNL and Innovation Crossroads? (one page)
What most attracts you to Innovation Crossroads? Why would this be the ideal home for you and your project (vs. alternative paths)? Which people and/or facilities at ORNL would be particularly valuable in supporting your work?
- What else? (one page)
An extra page for anything else that you feel we should know.
Render and submit a single PDF that precisely follows the page guidance above. For example, “one page” means precisely a single page with no spill over (maximum page limit of 8).
Want to learn more?
Interested in learning more about Innovation Crossroads qualifications, benefits, and the application process? Make plans to join us for an informational webinar:
- Wednesday, September 23rd, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
- Tuesday, October 6th, 1:00 p.m. (ET)
- Thursday, October 22nd, 3:00 p.m. (ET)
Ready to apply?
To apply for the fifth cohort of Innovation Crossroads, please complete the online form and attach required application materials. Apply Now!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While ideas may evolve, we want to ensure that the initial project concept is technically sound, reasonably differentiated, and addresses a well-framed problem with significant long-term impact potential. The ideal project would exhibit exceptional:
- Impact on the U.S. energy economy (potential for large-scale impact, techno-economic feasibility, credible path to impact with viable entry markets)
- Technical merit (technical feasibility, differentiation, clear risk mitigation plan)
- Business idea (market research, customer/supplier/distributor evaluation, establishment/identification of intellectual property, understanding of the market including barriers to entry, sophistication of market, market incumbents, etc.)
- Innovation Crossroads fit (basic materials science and/or manufacturing technology, Innovation Crossroads support would drastically change timeline/probability of success, alignment with lab resources and expertise, ability to work well with or in a national lab and/or research institution).
Selected innovators will contract with the Laboratory through standard non-negotiable CRADAs approved by the Department of Energy. The work may be divided into two phases, a Scope and Planning Phase (budget period one) followed by a Research and Development (R&D) phase (budget period two).
Scope and Planning Phase:
During the Scope and Planning Phase (typically less than 6 months), the innovator will work at the Lab and will undertake paper-based analysis such as performing market studies, refining the scope of their research project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory personnel, surveying the intellectual property landscape of their technology, and other activities designed to increase the chance of success in the subsequent R&D Phase. Since no hard R&D is allowed in this phase, background Intellectual Property (IP) will not be of concern. Innovators are expected to develop an Intellectual Property (IP) Management Plan as part of the Scope and Planning phase (budget period 1), subject to the appropriate DOE Technology Manager’s approval with concurrence from DOE Patent Counsel, before proceeding to the R&D phase (budget period 2). The IP Management Plan should identify and provide a path for obtaining any background IP rights, if necessary, that may be needed to perform R&D work under the CRADA and commercialize their technology.
Once the Scope and Planning phase has been completed, the R&D Phase of the project can proceed (subject to DOE approval).
Please note that as with any other cooperative research and development project conducted with a National Lab, an innovator’s failure to abide by its DOE approved IP Management Plan could result in delayed work, deferment or removal from the program. Please note that selected innovators do not have any rights to Lab or third-party background IP by virtue of selection or participation in this program. If an innovator requires any Lab background IP, they should reach out to the Lab’s technology transfer office.
Any work in connection with Innovation Crossroads must comply with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Prime Contract, as well as applicable policies – including those pertaining to the avoidance of apparent or actual conflicts of interest. Innovators who have an affiliation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, its operator UT-Battelle LLC, the Department of Energy or Tennessee Valley Authority will be subject to an organizational conflict of interest management plan.
The application review process for innovators involves independent advisors who may not be employees of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Department of Energy and/or Tennessee Valley Authority. As such, no proprietary information should be included in any application. By submitting information to Innovation Crossroads, innovators agree that such information is non-proprietary and not subject to any obligation of disclosure.
The Laboratory has no claim to any background intellectual property that you bring to the program. Selected applicants will be granted certain rights in data, copyrights, and patents that innovators create in the course of the program, pursuant to the terms of the CRADA between Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the successful applicants.
As a general matter:
- Selected applicants may copyright and publish (consistent with appropriate national security considerations, if any) material developed under the CRADA (also subject to a royalty-free license to the government).
- Selected applicants may retain the principal worldwide patent rights to any invention the applicants develop under the CRADA, subject to a reserved government use license and other limitations that can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, 37 CFR 401. For inventions developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the CRADA, selected applicants will not own the invention, but will instead have an option for up to an exclusive license to such Oak Ridge National Laboratory inventions for the term of the CRADA plus six months.
- An IP Management Plan is established by participants in this program in order to establish clear and transparent set of mutual expectations for management of both the background and subsequently developed intellectual property relevant to the proposed activities.