If I am selected for the cohort, how will I be supported?

The DOE’s EERE will provide an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship to the selected technology innovators for the first year, with the potential for a one-year renewal. ersonal stipends provided by the ORISE fellowship have a base rate of approximately $80,000 per year, plus allowances for health insurance and travel.


What types of technologies qualify?

Areas such as clean energy manufacturing, renewable energies, nuclear energy, electric grid technologies, carbon management, and advanced transportation systems/fuels would all qualify for Innovation Crossroads. The program has an interest in casting a wide net and finding the best innovators and ideas, but it is important that your idea will specifically benefit from the unique capabilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. If you have questions about your technology qualifying, please feel free to reach out.


What criteria will be used to select innovators?

The program is designed for highly qualified, outcome-oriented, technical individuals who have the drive and ability to build a foundational vision and lead a team in technology development. While ideas may evolve, the initial project concept needs to be technically sound, reasonably differentiated, and address a well-framed problem with significant potential for long-term impact.


I have already started a clean tech company. Am I still eligible to apply?

Individual founders of startup companies are allowed to apply; however, if the company has raised $1M or more, the company is ineligible for Innovation Crossroads. We are seeking early-stage technology ideas or startup companies to assist.


How will an innovator work on research at ORNL?

Each innovator will work with a Principal Investigator (PI) at ORNL through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The innovator and PI will work together to draft a scope of work to be performed by researchers at the laboratory, using the framework set forth by Innovation Crossroads. All CRADAs will be subject to the DOE approval process. During the course of the CRADA, innovators will have access to office and laboratory space to cooperatively engage in research.


Are innovators required to live in Oak Ridge?

Yes, participation in the program requires innovators to be in close proximity to ORNL and relocate to the Knoxville/Oak Ridge area.


Can innovators have business mentors outside of Innovation Crossroads?

Innovators can have mentors outside of the program, but already having a business mentor is not a requirement to apply Innovators should identify all pre-selected business mentors on their application, and all business mentors must complete the business mentor solicitation process, as well as receive approval from ORNL and DOE.


Can entrepreneurs already affiliated with ORNL apply to Innovations Crossroads?

Innovators affiliated with ORNL, its operator UT-Battelle LLC, or the University of Tennessee are eligible to apply. However, applicants must indicate that they have any affiliation with any of the foregoing, or represent that they do not under the application section “Any Affiliation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.” This includes identifying any equity, options, warrants or some other investment interest held by the foregoing entities, as well as control held by the foregoing entities or representatives therefrom (including board of directors, board of governors, members, partners, executives, principals). Any selected innovator with such an affiliation will be subject to an organizational conflict of interest (OCI) management plan. Compliance with the above is not a guarantee that a selected affiliated innovator will be able to participate in Innovation Crossroads. If the OCI issues cannot be effectively mitigated to the satisfaction of the DOE, an affiliated innovator will not be able to participate in the Innovation Crossroads program. In that circumstance, the selected innovator may be disqualified. Additionally, selected innovators will be required to engage a qualified business mentor to participate in the Innovation Crossroads program. To the extent that the innovators select a mentor organization affiliated with ORNL, its operator UT-Battelle LLC, or the University of Tennessee, that arrangement will also be subject to a conflict of interest management plan developed—and approved by the DOE—for their participation.


How is Innovation Crossroads different from the DOE Small Business Vouchers program?

Innovation Crossroads is a mentored program aimed at encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs as they explore new ventures in clean energy technologies while embedded at ORNL. The Small Business Vouchers program is aimed at helping existing small businesses do collaborative work with researchers across the national lab system to solve targeted technology problems. Some teams may be eligible for both programs.


How should innovators identify proprietary information in the application?

Applications will be reviewed by scientific and industry experts both inside and outside of ORNL and DOE. To request that an application be treated as confidential, please mark appropriately. Based on application information, reviewers will be asked to recuse themselves from handling any application that may pose a potential conflict of interest. 

To protect proprietary data, any document uploaded as part of the application must be marked in the following manner utilizing the three (3) step process outlined below:

  1. The Cover Page of the Project Narrative document must contain the notice below (please cut and paste): “Pages [_____] of this document may contain trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential and is exempt from public disclosure. Such information shall be used or disclosed only for evaluation purposes or in accordance with the Innovation Crossroads program or any CRADA between the selected innovator and ORNL. The Government may use or disclose any information that is not appropriately marked or otherwise restricted, regardless of source.”
  2. Each page containing trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential must be specifically identified and marked with the following (please cut and paste): “May contain trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential and exempt from public disclosure.” Do not include this statement on pages that do not contain proprietary information.
  3. Each line or paragraph containing trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged, must be marked with brackets or other clear identification, such as highlighting.

Proprietary information contained in applications will remain the property of the applicant. DOE and/or ORNL may retain for three years one electronic copy of each unsuccessful application. Public release of information in any submitted application will be subject to existing statutory and regulatory requirements, such as the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.


How can additional questions be answered?

For answers to additional questions, please email innvcrossrds@ornl.gov.