Spark Innovation Center Announces New Lab Spaces for Hardtech Startups

June 7, 2024

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The UT Spark Innovation Center is now accepting applications from hardtech startups to join the Spark Incubator. The deadline to apply is September 10. Successful applicants will have the chance to move into new lab spaces opening this fall at the University of Tennessee Research Park.

The Spark Incubator lab spaces will be housed in Innovation South, a new building under construction at the UT Research Park. These lab spaces will be shared between two startup companies, allowing the Incubator to accommodate up to six startups. The Incubator supports companies working in advanced technologies such as clean energy, mobility, advanced materials, and manufacturing. Tenants will benefit from top-tier lab spaces, shared equipment, expert mentorship, commercialization training, and strategic connections. New members will join a vibrant innovation community of nearly 30 tech founders.

Photos are of Current Lab Spaces Provided by Spark Innovation Center

“We’re excited for the opportunity to welcome new startups to the Spark Incubator,” said Lilly Tench, director of the Spark Innovation Center. “Together with the current Spark labs in the Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (IAMM), we will be able to provide space for up to 12 companies. This is an important resource for helping advanced tech companies stay and grow in the region.”

The initial motivation for starting the Spark Innovation Center in 2020 was to address the need for lab spaces for startup companies in Knoxville. Since its inception, the Spark Innovation Center has supported 29 companies through its incubator and accelerator programs. These companies have collectively raised over $73 million and created 92 jobs. To date, 76% of the companies served have remained in East Tennessee.

“Having startups work alongside top researchers and industry partners in IAMM, and soon in Innovation South, fosters a unique culture of innovation and collaboration,” said Jon Phipps, executive director of the UT Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing. “Spark companies are a crucial part of the mix, and we’re excited to see that grow.”

Startups interested in applying to the Spark Incubator can learn more and apply at until September 10, 2024.