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Thank you for your interest in Innovation Crossroads.  The call for Cohort 5 applications closed on October 31 and applications are currently being reviewed by a team of technical and business experts.  You are encouraged to frequently visit our website and follow us on social media for information pertaining to future program opportunities. 


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.

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.

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.

Application Timeline:

  • 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

Eligibility Criteria:

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
  • Must successfully execute a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • 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, 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:

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 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).


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