About the Program

National Lab Support to Create Clean Energy Companies

Innovation Crossroads is a new program based at ORNL that matches aspiring early stage energy researchers with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to commercial applications.

Through an annual call, up to five entrepreneurs will be selected to work at Oak Ridge National Lab and transform their ideas and bring new ideas to the lab with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Innovators will receive a fellowship that covers living costs, benefits and a travel stipend for up to two years, plus substantial financial support for collaborative research and development at ORNL. Each innovator will also be paired with a doctoral student from the University of Tennessee’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education for assistance with market research and customer discovery.

Empowering Leaders

  • • Fellowship including living costs, benefits, and travel
  • • R&D Funding Support
  • • Dedicated office and collaboration space

Igniting Innovation

  • • R&D assistance from ORNL experts
  • • 9 national user facilities
  • • 20 centers and joint institutes
  • • 200 R&D 100 Awards
  • • 45 National Academy members

Launching Businesses

  • • Business model development and mentorship
  • • Market research assistance from UT Bredesen Center
  • • Networking with commercial partners, investors, and advisory networks


  • •Must have completed the requirements for PhD by time of entry into program
  • •Must be focused on energy or manufacturing innovation
  • •Must leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and have an impact on Dept of Energy missions
  • •Must be willing to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area
  • •Must be US citizen or lawful permanent resident at time of application

Key Dates

  • • September 20, 2016: Program Announced
  • • May 8, 2017: Cohort 1 Innovators Onboard
  • • July, 2017: Pre-Applications for Cohort 2 open
  • • September 19, 2017: Applications for Cohort 2 open
  • • October 30, 2017: Applications close
  • • May, 2018: Cohort 2 onboard


Acceptance into Innovation Crossroads includes:

    • • Fellowship stipends for up to two years, including travel and health benefits
    • • R&D funding support to be used in collaboration with ORNL researchers and
    • • Business mentorship, entrepreneurial training, and introductions to potential partners