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Thank you for your interest. Innovation Crossroads will accept applications for its seventh cohort from October 15 – November 30, 2022. Please see the below information about the program, opportunity, benefits, eligibility criteria, and potential technology areas of interest.


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 U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and Building Technologies Office, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, is an innovative 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 period of time.

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.

Program Sponsors:

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.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Office

Mission: Support research and development, validation, and integration of affordable, energy-saving technologies, techniques, tools, and services, to enable industry and others to develop and deploy technologies that can improve the efficiency and reduce the energy costs of the nation's homes, offices, schools, hospitals, and other commercial and residential buildings in both the new and existing buildings markets.

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.

Accelerating Your Innovation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

By embedding the next generation of top technical talent within Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Innovation Crossroads positions entrepreneurial research fellows to address fundamental challenges identified by industry. Learn more about the unique scientific resources, facilities, equipment, capabilities, and experts available in technology-related fields to accelerate world-changing ideas from research and development to the marketplace:


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 two years through this program. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is presently searching for innovators for its seventh 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 professional development allowance (e.g., travel funding, educational training and development, customer discovery activities).
  • 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.

Application Timeline:

  • Applications open: October 15, 2022 at 8:00 am (Eastern Time)
  • Applications close: November 30, 2022 at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time)
  • Written application review: December 2022
    Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Crossroads team, as well as scientific and industry subject matter experts
  • Internal pre-screening interview: December 2022
    Candidates who meet all required eligibility criteria will be invited to conduct an informal virtual pre-screen interview with the Innovation Crossroads Team to learn more about the candidate, their technology/company, and address any questions that they have about the program or process
  • Market opportunity assessment: December 2022/January 2023
    The ORNL Technology Transfer Office will perform a market opportunity assessment on potential semifinal technologies/companies to identify a value proposition, target market, competitive landscape, competitive differentiators, risk/threats, etc.
  • Virtual semifinal interviews: January 2023
    Semifinalists invited to present to a review panel made up of representatives from the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and internal program champions
  • In-person final interviews: February 2023
    Finalists invited to visit ORNL to tour facilities, connect with potential collaborators, principal investigators, and mentors, and present to a talented team of investors, business executives, and experienced entrepreneurs from across the country
  • Cohort seventh selected: Spring 2023
  • Cohort seventh starts at Innovation Crossroads: June 2023

Eligibility Criteria:

For acceptance into the program, applicants:

  • Must apply as an individual, not as a company or organization
  • Must have PhD or equivalent experience
  • Must leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and have an impact on the Department of Energy and/or Tennessee Valley Authority mission 
  • Must be willing to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area for 2-years
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident at time of application
  • Must have raised no more the $2M USD in debt or equity funding from non-government sources within 3 years prior to program application
  • Must successfully execute a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with ORNL
  • Must disclose background IP rights, if necessary, that may be needed to freely operate on R&D related tasks as outlined within the CRADA

Technology Areas of Interest:

Innovators must focus on an emerging technology that will advance the development of clean energy, advanced manufacturing, a shared integrated grid, and/or smart buildings. 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. 

Technology areas of interest, as identified by our sponsors:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
    Scientific breakthroughs in next-generation materials, innovative processes, recycling and reclamation technologies, artificial intelligence and enabling technologies, machine tools, and robotics, controls, and automation.
  • Atmospheric Decarbonization
    Scientific breakthroughs fostering innovation in pathways to net-zero carbon emissions, earth system modeling, data integration, dissemination, and informatics, integrative ecosystem science and impacts adaptation, and community dynamics. 
  • Building Technologies
    Scientific breakthroughs in building electric appliances, devices, and systems, building energy modeling, green and energy efficient practices, advanced building envelope, building equipment and controls, thermal energy storage, grid-interactive efficiencies, and advanced building construction.
  • Digital Economy
    Scientific breakthroughs in data, computing, Wi-Fi, broadband, smart cities, connected communities, manufacturing, and automation.   
  • Electrification and Energy Infrastructures
    Scientific breakthroughs to improve the reliability, sustainability, and efficiencies of energy storage systems, electric grid protections and controls, and advancements in power electronics.
  • Energy Technology Innovation
    Scientific breakthroughs in electric vehicle evolution, storage integration, regional grid transformation, transmission and distribution (T&D) integration and controls, sensors, distributed energy resources, advanced nuclear solutions, connected communities, and advanced hydrogen economy.
  • Industrial Decarbonization
    Scientific breakthroughs in direct air capture, low-carbon generation and manufacturing, net-zero chemical processes, and the climate positive production of cement and steel. 
  • Intelligent Systems and Facilities (INTERSECT)
    Scientific breakthroughs with autonomous experiments, “self-driving” laboratories, smart manufacturing, and AI-driven design, discovery, and evaluation.

Application Materials:

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 (two pages)
    Describe the technology you want to develop. Provide an adequate amount of technical detail for a subject matter expert to fully understand your technology, and the methodological next steps required to scale the technology. Use the Heilmeier catechism as a guide for what’s most relevant. Please include links or references to supporting documents that back technology proof-of-concept (i.e., patents, publications, presentations, diagrams, etc.).
  • Tell us about your team (one paragraph)
    Please list current members of your team (i.e., co-founders, chief executive officer, chief operations officer, chief technology officer, business development manger, engineers, etc.).
  • 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 is ORNL the ideal home for you and your project (vs. alternative paths)? Please name the 
    people, facilities, and/or equipment at ORNL that will be most 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” precisely means a single page with no spill over (maximum page limit of 8).

Learn More:

Are you an entrepreneur interested in learning more about Innovation Crossroads qualifications, benefits, and the application process?

Make plans to join us for a program overview and the opportunity to ask questions of the Innovation Crossroads Team:

  • Wednesday, October 19, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
  • Tuesday, November 1, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
  • Friday, November 18, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Register now for an upcoming informational webinar!

Note: Your registration confirmation email from Innovation Crossroads will contain Microsoft Teams connection information and instructions. 

Apply Now:

Thank you for your interest. Innovation Crossroads will accept applications for its seventh cohort from October 15 – November 30, 2022. Check back here on October 15 for access to the online application form. 


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