Frequently Asked Questions

What technologies qualify?

We are casting a wide net for technologies that we consider. We are looking for the most innovative approaches to large science questions that impact energy, advanced manufacturing and/or integrated grid.  If your technology can be tied to one or more of those topics, and you believe that the resources at Oak Ridge National Lab will help advance the technology, we encourage you to apply.


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. 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.


Can applicants have already started a company?

Yes. While you apply to the program and are supported as an individual, having already established a company is common.


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.


Will my application materials be kept confidential?

Your application will be reviewed by scientific and industry experts from within and outside of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 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 express 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”.


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

The DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office 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. Personal stipends provided by the ORISE fellowship have a base rate of approximately $80,000 per year, plus allowances for health insurance and travel. Additional benefits include business guidance and mentorship as well as some seed funding for R&D efforts within ORNL.

Lab access and research funding – In addition to unparalleled access to facilities, equipment, and expertise at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, fellows receive $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.


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 approved CRADA, innovators will have access to office and laboratory space to cooperatively engage in research.


Do you take any equity in the projects?

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. 


Can I participate in the program part-time?

No. Participants are expected to be “all in” and working on their project full time.


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.


If a company has already been established, does the entire company have to come to Oak Ridge?

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.


How can additional questions be answered?

For answers to additional questions, please email