The Spark Innovation Center Wins DOE Office of Technology Transitions EPIC Round 3 Phase 1

April 2, 2023 – KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

We are delighted to announce that the Spark Innovation Center, located within the University of Tennessee Research Park, has been honored with the prestigious DOE’s OTT Energy Program Innovation Cluster Round 3 Phase 1 Award. This achievement signifies our advancement to Phase 2 this summer, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to fostering innovation within the energy sector.

The $150,000 prize will be used to support a Spark Prototyping initiative to help startup companies access prototyping resources and facilities in partnership with the UT Tickle College of Engineering, the UT Center for Materials Processing, ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads program and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.

“We’re honored to receive this support,” said Lilly Tench, Director of the Spark Innovation Center, “and are excited to work with our partners to help facilitate access to prototyping facilities, equipment and student expertise to support the prototyping efforts of cleantech startups. This will be a valuable step in helping startups get their products to market faster.”

As we move forward into Phase 2, the Spark Innovation Center remains dedicated to driving innovation, nurturing startups, and contributing to the advancement of the energy industry towards a sustainable future.

Energy Program for Innovation Cluster

EPIC Round 3 is an innovative $4 million competitive funding program dedicated to supporting the nation’s most forward-thinking incubators nurturing energy startups. By placing a strong emphasis on fostering creativity and driving impact, EPIC provides cash prizes and three-year cooperative agreements to regional incubator teams dedicated to developing comprehensive programming, fostering valuable connections, and offering unwavering support to energy startups and entrepreneurs.

Recognizing the critical role of incubators in providing startups with essential mentorship, technology validation, business development, and networking opportunities, EPIC addresses the capital gap by offering short-term financial incentives through a prize competition, alongside stable, multi-year funding through cooperative agreements.

Prize Structuring

Phase 1: Participants devise a plan to bolster energy startups and entrepreneurs while establishing success metrics. A maximum of 20 entrants will each secure $150,000.

Phase 2: Finalists from Phase 1 will commence executing their innovative initiatives and craft a follow-up strategy deemed suitable for consideration for a cooperative agreement. Chosen Phase 2 awardees will subsequently be offered the opportunity to engage in negotiations for a cooperative agreement with OTT valued at up to $1 million.

Phase 3: Victorious teams will engage in discussions to finalize their three-year cooperative agreement with OTT.