UT Research Park Receives $100,000 Grant from Truist Foundation to Support Spark Innovation Center

Knoxville, Tenn, (Dec. 13, 2022) – The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm announced today it received a $100,000 grant from Truist Foundation to support the Spark Innovation Center.

Grant funds will be used to increase the Spark Center’s core principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, helping the Center recruit and serve more women- and minority-led entrepreneurs and startup companies through its programs like the Spark Cleantech Accelerator and the Spark Incubator Program.

“We are extremely grateful to Truist Foundation for supporting the mission of the Spark Innovation Center,” said Tom Rogers, President and CEO of the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm. “The investment from Truist Foundation will enable us to better serve women- and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs. In doing so, it will strengthen East Tennessee communities by building more career pathways to economic mobility.”

With the funds, the Spark Innovation Center hopes to reach its goal of 50 percent participation by minority- and women- led entrepreneurs and startups in all Spark programming within three years, providing encouragement and support for the next generation of tech-led entrepreneurs.

“The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm aligns with Truist Foundation’s mission to work with organizations that strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit and enable minority- and women-owned small businesses,” said Johnny Moore, Tennessee regional president for Truist. “Through our partnership and the Spark Innovation Center, minority entrepreneurs from East Tennessee will be able to build the skill sets and networks necessary to launch and build successful companies. It’s also another way we fulfill Truist’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities”

Applications to participate in Cohort Two of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator open in January 2023. Early-stage cleantech businesses focused on driving commercialization of their technologies in Tennessee and across the nation are encouraged to apply. Check back here in January for an online application.

About University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm                   

The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm is the gateway for collaboration between UT’s flagship university and external partners. The park has a total of 365,000 square feet of developed space supporting 15 tenants employing 675 employees, and focuses on three major research themes: advanced materials and manufacturing, biomedical innovation, and data intensive applications. For more information, visit tnresearchpark.org.

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 technology companies grow, offering access to top quality lab space, expert mentoring, and coordinating support services from nine partner organizations in the region. For more information, visit: tnresearchpark.org/spark.

About Truist Foundation                                        

Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Learn more at Truist.com/Foundation.