Applications Now Open for the Spark Cleantech Accelerator at the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Spark Cleantech Accelerator at the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm is now accepting applications to its 12-week business acceleration program, kicking-off on August 14th, 2023. Applications will be accepted until midnight on May 12th. The accelerator is based at the University of Tennessee Research Park in Knoxville, Tennessee and is designed to assist early stage cleantech innovators with commercializing their innovations and advancing technologies that will benefit the environment and provide economic value to East Tennessee, the Midwest, and the cleantech industry.

The program is free to cleantech entrepreneurs, with no monetary or equity exchange required to participate. Participants of the 12-week accelerator will receive:

  • $15,000 stipends to help defray travel/living costs and to support business and technical milestones
  • Access to prototyping services through the University of Tennessee’s Center for Materials Processing
  • Mentoring and one-on-one support from experts in business, market analysis and positioning, and IP/ patent strategy, product design, engineering, prototyping, testing, material selection, tooling design, and manufacturing
  • Connections with customers, investors, strategic partners, suppliers, universities and national laboratories
  • Training Workshops and one-on-one support, including individual meetings with DOE SBIR/STTR staff
  • Partnerships with organizations such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the University of Tennessee, the City of Knoxville, and members of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.

The program welcomes applications from entrepreneurs developing technologies that demonstrate a positive impact to energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, improve wastewater treatment, generate renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase recycling/upcycling and a circular economy. Early stage cleantech entrepreneurs from anywhere in the U.S. are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants must be willing to relocate to Knoxville, TN for the duration of the 12-week program.  Companies that demonstrate their technology can support the challenges and needs of Spark partners, such as utilities, local governments, universities, manufacturing companies, commercial building operators, etc., are of particular interest.

“The Spark Innovation Center programs have had tremendous results so far,” said Lilly Tench, Director of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator. “In the first two years of operation, companies participating in the Spark Incubator or Accelerator have raised a total of $34 million through grants, equity investment, and recurring revenue, and hired 26 full-time employees, 10 contract employees, and supported 10 internships. We are excited to build upon this success to support the next cohort of cleantech companies that will build a cleaner future and a more robust economy here in East Tennessee.” 

The accelerator will be accepting applications until May 12th. Interested companies can apply and find more information at and reach out to with questions.

Photos available upon request.

About Spark Innovation Center The Spark Innovation Center is an initiative of the University of Tennessee Research Park, and builds on the facilities and expertise at the University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Spark focuses on helping promising energy and other advanced technology companies grow, offering access to top quality lab space, expert mentoring, and coordinating support services from nine partner organizations in the region.