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Accelerating Your Innovation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Starting new clean-tech hardware-based companies can be challenging, and that’s one reason the number of energy startups has declined significantly over the past decade. Innovation Crossroads is a program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Manufacturing Office, Building Technologies Office, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that leverages Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL’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 (R&D) 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
  • $200,000 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

  • $2.4 billion annual budget
  • 5,800 employees
  • 1,100 staff scientists and engineers in more than 100 disciplines
  • 3,200 researcher guests annually
  • 872 patents issued (2010-2021)
  • 8 national scientific user facilities
  • 20 research centers and joint institutes

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.


Are you an entrepreneur interested in being a part of our program? Through an annual call each fall, applications are accepted and following a rigorous review and interview process, top entrepreneurial-minded fellows are selected to join the program. Selected innovators will receive a fellowship that includes a personal living stipend, health insurance, and travel allowance, plus substantial funding to use on collaborative research and development at ORNL. 

Contact us to learn more.

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 energy-related advanced manufacturing technologies and practices to drive U.S. economic competitiveness and energy productivity.

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Office

Mission: Support research and development, validation, and integration of affordable, energy-saving technologies, techniques, tools, and services, to enable industry and others to develop and deploy technologies that can improve the efficiency and reduce the energy costs of the nation's homes, offices, schools, hospitals, and other commercial and residential buildings in both the new and existing buildings markets. 

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.

Contact us to learn more about becoming a program sponsor.