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Spark Cleantech Accelerator Announces Open Applications

TAEBC showcases East TN as a cleantech hub at annual “Opportunities in Energy”

Category: Research

Spark Innovation Center

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — At today’s Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) eighth annual Opportunities in Energy event, John Bruck, director of UT’s Research Park’s Spark Innovation Center, announced the opening of applications for the Spark Cleantech Accelerator.

The Spark Cleantech Accelerator is recruiting early-stage, high-growth business companies that aid the development of decarbonization and other technology solutions targeting the climate crisis while simultaneously supporting Tennessee’s advanced energy and circular economies. Applications are open for the program through March 11, 2022, and the first cohort of the accelerator will be announced in April.

The accelerator will provide co-working space at the UT Research Park, an equity-free stipend and access to prototyping facilities at UT to help accelerate the participants’ progress during a three-month period.  Additionally, entrepreneurs will have access to investor and mentor networks with cleantech industry expertise and the opportunity to participate in events held by Spark’s regional partners including the Clean Energy Trust. This comprehensive set of services will assist in participants’ commercialization of their technologies in Tennessee and throughout the Midwest.

Participating companies will be encouraged to consider relocating permanently to Knoxville, which was recently ranked as the No. 16 cleantech hub in the country, according to venture firm Saoradh Enterprise Partners.

The launch of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator to East Tennessee makes the Knoxville/Oak Ridge region the only location in America to host three high-profile, energy-focused business accelerators. The Spark Cleantech Accelerator is supported by a combination of strategic partners including the city of Knoxville, University of Tennessee System, the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, Tennessee Valley Authority, The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council and the U.S. Department of Energy.

​​“The city of Knoxville is proud to host and financially support the newest accelerator in East Tennessee’s rapidly growing startup scene. Supporting breakthrough clean energy technologies with accelerator programs is an important component of growing our innovation economy, retaining top talent and asserting Knoxville’s leadership role as a cleantech hub. The city welcomes opportunities to engage with Spark innovators to help meet my administration’s goal of reducing emissions 80 percent across the community by 2050,” said Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.

“Our investment in the Spark Cleantech Accelerator will build on the work Tennessee has been doing to launch advanced energy businesses and create an innovative holistic approach to supporting entrepreneurs,” said Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee. “We are grateful to be part of de-risking technology development and identifying market opportunities that drive both economic growth and environmental impact.”

Recent reports from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council show Tennessee’s advanced energy and cleantech industries are thriving, making it the ideal location for early-stage companies to launch solutions that will accelerate the state’s transition to a new, clean energy economy. Nearly 394,000 Tennesseans are employed in the sector at more than 20,000 businesses that contribute approximately $46 billion to the state gross domestic product.

TAEBC’s end-of-year virtual event also featured panels on a wide range of advanced energy topics, including the Blue Oval City, how to meet corporate environmental, social and governance goals and a presentation of the 2021 Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report.

For more information about the Spark Cleantech Accelerator click here.


Melissa Tindell

Jennifer Sicking

Hannah Whitson

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Category: Research