Ribbon Cutting Launches Spark Innovation Center at UT Research Park

KNOXVILLE — A virtual ribbon cutting will launch the Spark Innovation Center at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm at 3:30 p.m. today.

The center, with six client companies, assists early stage technology companies gain their footings. The companies, under one- or two-year agreements with the center, have space in the Joint Institute of Advanced Materials laboratories and work with staff to meet milestones to graduate to commercially available space in the region.

“Startup technology companies typically need a longer runway to success and profitability than other companies,” UT President Randy Boyd said. “The Spark Innovation Center is a solution to help those companies launch and soar.”

Tom Rogers, UT Research Park president and CEO, said the center will help the fledgling companies identify marketplace needs, finetune technology solutions and build working prototypes.

“Our region is blessed with terrific technology assets,” Rogers said. “Spark‘s goal is to provide tech startups with just the right kinds of support they need to become successful companies and continue to grow here in East Tennessee.”

The center also will:

  • Provide access to shared laboratory space;
  • Provide business model development and introductions to early stage investors;
  • Make connections with top researchers at UT and ORNL;
  • Make introductions to other entrepreneurial service providers in the region;
  • Make connections to established companies in the research park and region.

“As Tennessee’s flagship, land-grant university, creating a space and providing the resources for small businesses to thrive is yet another way we can fulfill our mission of lifting up our communities and our state,” UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “We are excited to see the tremendous innovation that will happen in this center and the impact it will have on our local economy and the jobs and industries of the future.”

Visit virtual.lunchpool.io/e/spark-innovation-ribbon-cutting/register to register to watch the virtual ribbon cutting.

The first six companies in the Spark Innovation Center are:

  • American Nanotechnologies, which develops technology that isolates high-value semiconducting carbon nanotubes from sources that contain a mixture of metallic compounds.
  • Chem Chip, which produces working electrodes based upon carbon nanospike innovation developed at ORNL.
  • Eonix, which has reduced the time and cost to develop new materials for lithium batteries and ultracapacitors.
  • Neptune Fluid Flow Systems, which developed a method for preparing thin films for cryo-TEM analysis.
  • Qubit Engineering, which is a quantum computing company developing optimization methods for wind turbines microsites.
  • Sky Nano, which produces high-purity carbon nanotubes from ambient carbon dioxide.

In addition to the UT Research Foundation and ORNL, other partners are: Three Roots Capital, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, UT College of Law Business Clinic, Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, Innov865 Alliance, UT Libraries and Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.