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Accelerating Your Innovation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Starting new energy-related technology companies can be challenging, and that’s one reason the number of energy startups has declined significantly over the past decade. Innovation Crossroads, a Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program, is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, Office of Electricity, Office of Science Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, and the Tennessee Valley Authority that leverages Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s unique scientific resources and capabilities and connects the nation’s top innovators with experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take world-changing ideas from research and development to the marketplace.

Innovation Crossroads is a two-year program for fellows focusing on energy and advanced manufacturing technologies. Through an annual national call and competitive stage-gate process, top entrepreneurial-minded fellows are selected to join the program. Selected innovators receive a fellowship that includes a personal living stipend, along with health insurance and travel allowance, a substantial grant to use on collaborative R&D at ORNL, and comprehensive mentoring assistance to build a sustainable business model.

By embedding the next generation of top technical talent within ORNL, Innovation Crossroads positions entrepreneurial researcher fellows to address fundamental energy and manufacturing challenges identified by industry.

How We Support Our Fellows

Empowering Leaders

  • A two-year fellowship, including personal living stipend, plus a health insurance stipend and travel allowance
  • $150,000 of R&D funding to scale and de-risk your technology
  • R&D assistance from ORNL staff scientists and engineers
  • Dedicated laboratory and office space

Igniting Innovation

  • $2.7 billion annual budget
  • 6,000+ employees
  • 3,200 researcher guests annually
  • #1 world's fastest supercomputer 
  • 957 patents issued (2010-2022)
  • 8 national scientific user facilities
  • 2,600+ scientific publications in 2022
  • 239 R&D 100 awards

Launching Businesses

  • Startup curriculum: business model development, financial literacy, investor readiness, and preparing your pitch
  • Accounting and legal advice
  • Advisory network of business mentors
  • Connections to industry experts, commercial partners, and investors
  • A community of peer support

Multi-Faceted Support To Rapidly Advance Your Startup

Innovation Crossroads offers unique multi-faceted support tailored to the individual needs of each startup company. This unique structure, combined with ORNL’s diverse capabilities, provides fellows the opportunity to take their groundbreaking research to market more quickly and with more impact.

National lab expertise—ORNL is DOE’s largest science and energy laboratory and home to some of the nation’s most significant user facilities. Because Innovation Crossroads entrepreneurs work within ORNL, they have immediate access to essential tools and resources. This access reduces cost, risk, and R&D time, allowing fellows to focus on creating the next generation of game-changing technologies.

Multidisciplinary collaboration—Innovation Crossroads participants work with ORNL’s renowned scientists and engineers across many disciplines, including biological and environmental sciences, advanced materials, neutron sciences, nuclear science and engineering, and high-performance computing, providing a platform for accelerating innovation.

Business mentoring assistance—Innovation Crossroads has a growing network of partners who offer a unique entrepreneurial and business mentoring experience. The program facilitates connections with industry executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and other experts from academia, government, and finance who can serve as advisors and mentors to help develop priorities, mature skills, provide guidance, and make connections to their broader networks.

Program Sponsors

U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office

Mission: We inspire people and drive innovation to transform materials and manufacturing for America's energy future.

U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office

Mission: The Building Technologies Office (BTO) develops, demonstrates, and accelerates the adoption of cost-effective technologies, techniques, tools and services that enable high-performing, energy-efficient and demand-flexible residential and commercial buildings in both the new and existing buildings markets, in support of an equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system by 2050, starting with a decarbonized power sector by 2035.

U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity 

Mission: A secure and resilient power grid is vital to national security, economic security, and the services Americans rely upon. Working closely with its private and public partners, the Office of Electricity leads the Department’s efforts to ensure that the Nation’s most critical energy infrastructure is secure and resilient. These efforts will strengthen, transform, and improve energy infrastructure so consumers have access to resilient, secure, and clean sources of electricity.

U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science 

Mission: To deliver scientific discoveries and major scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.

Tennessee Valley Authority

Mission: Harness the potential of the rich resources in the Tennessee Valley region to make life better for the people who call it home. We are inspired daily to pursue new ideas and innovative solutions to improve our service to you.

Get Involved

Contact us if you would like to be a potential partner, application reviewer, or sponsor. We also welcome program referrals for qualified applicants.