Frequently Asked Questions
We are casting a wide net for technologies to be considered. We are looking for the most innovative approaches to large science questions that impact energy, advanced manufacturing and/or shared integrated grid. If your technology can be tied to one or more of those topics and/or you believe that the resources at ORNL will help advance the technology, we encourage you to apply.
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. Strong applications will include a sound, complete explanation of the technical background and necessary advancements as well as some evidence that the business opportunity has been considered.
Yes. While you apply to the program and are supported as an individual, having already established a company is common.
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.
Your application will be reviewed by scientific and industry experts from within and outside of ORNL. Based on summary application information, potential reviewers will be asked to recuse themselves from accessing any application that may pose a potential conflict of interest, and any selected reviewers will commit to not disclosing information outside of the formal selection process. We will not share application materials outside of the review process without your expressed permission. While we encourage you to be as open as possible in your application, we would advise against including any critically sensitive proprietary details. Finally, remember to mark all pages of your application with the footer “Confidential and Proprietary”.
A two-year fellowship – Includes a personal living stipend of up to $90,000/year depending on education and experience, along with health insurance and travel allowance (issued and managed by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education)
Lab access and research funding – In addition to unparalleled access to facilities, equipment, and expertise at ORNL, fellows receive up to $200,000 of R&D funding to support collaboration opportunities with researchers across the lab.
Business mentors, entrepreneurial training, and networking – Participants 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.
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 two-year fellowship, innovators will have access to office and laboratory space to cooperatively engage in research.
No. Innovation Crossroads is a fellowship program that supports people, first and foremost. We have a nonprofit mission to help you find the optimal path for your project to go to market, regardless of the specific business model.
No. Participants are expected to be “all in” and working on their project full time.
Yes. Participation in the program requires innovators to be in close proximity to ORNL and relocate to the Knoxville/Oak Ridge area.
No. Other components and individuals involved in your company can be located anywhere. Just the individual participating in Innovation Crossroads must be willing to be within commuting distance to ORNL.