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UT, ORNL and TVA partner with Colorado accelerator to help startups develop new technologies

The new program will focus on helping startups develop technologies in artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science, 5G and more.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — East Tennessee's research and technology powerhouses are joining forces to create a new program supporting startups focused on working with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum information science, biotechnology and clean energy technology.

The University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority partnered with Techstars to bring a new accelerator program to East Tennessee.

Techstar connects entrepreneurs, investors and organizations with start-up companies that show potential for creating innovative technology through their accelerator programs. This will be the first accelerator program the company starts in Tennessee. Ten startups will be chosen to participate.

They will receive funding and hands-on mentorship from experts in the partnership. They will also be able to participate in curated workshops, have access to unique resources and will be able to participate in Techstars' network of business leaders and experts.

“Working with ORNL, TVA and UT to foster an environment where startups building advancements in the industries of the future can come together and thrive is a unique and galvanizing opportunity,” said Nancy Wolff, Techstars' general manager.

The program will support start-up companies as they work on advanced technologies. Organizers hope they will be able to benefit from being so close to ORNL, inspiring entrepreneurs to innovate as scientific research continues at the laboratory.

They also hope the new companies will grow East Tennessee's business ecosystem. 

“In the next three years, the Techstars accelerator will attract high-potential companies in fields that will define the economy in the generations to come," said Thomas Zacharia, ORNL's director. "This is a unique opportunity to share our region’s great strengths with rising entrepreneurs.”

The first class of businesses in the accelerator will operate from January 2022 through April 2022. Applications to be part of the inaugural class will open July 19, 2021, through October 6, 2021.