Kauffman Foundation selects Launch Tennessee to form first-ever Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network

The Kauffman Foundation recently announced it has selected six entrepreneur support organizations, including Launch Tennessee, as grant recipients to form the first-ever Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network.

The Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network will be an alliance of organizations that will bring the voices of entrepreneurs to policy debates at the state level.

Launch Tennessee has partnered with the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council to manage the Energy Mentor Network. The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startup by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise.

Entrepreneurs are the beating heart of the American economy, but they typically are too busy building their businesses to make their voices heard in public policy, resulting in more barriers to new business creation and waning business startup rates.

The Kauffman Foundation has committed $1.9 million in grant funding for this initiative which will be awarded to Launch Tennessee, Bunker Labs, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Enterprise Center of Johnson County, Metropolitan Economic Development Association, and Venture Hall.

As members of the Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network, the organizations will:

  • Identify state policies that inhibit entrepreneurship
  • Educate policymakers about the impact of those policies in erecting barriers to entrepreneurship
  • Build support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship generally
  • Facilitate informational interactions between policymakers and entrepreneurs

Read the official announcement here.

TennSMART Consortium to accelerate intelligent mobility in Tennessee

A group of 20 public and private partners have launched the TennSMART Consortium to accelerate the development and deployment of intelligent mobility innovations in Tennessee. The specific intelligent mobility focus areas identified by the TennSMART Consortium are 1) connected and automated vehicles, 2) heavy duty trucking and freight efficiency, 3) cybersecurity, 4) electric vehicles, and 5) multimodal commuting.

Founding members include Bridgestone Americas, Cummins Filtration, Inc., DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, FedEx Corporation, GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc., Local Motors, Lyft, Miovision, Nissan North America, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee Valley Authority, Top Five Inc., University of Memphis, The University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

“Connected and automated vehicles bring new opportunities to help increase safety on roadways across Tennessee,” said TDOT’s Ryan Simpson. “TennSMART brings together industry leaders, research institutions, and government to integrate intelligent mobility advances into long-range plans for the Tennessee transportation system.”

Consortium members will assist with the creation of a technology roadmap and strategic plan for intelligent mobility initiatives in Tennessee. The consortium will address mobility opportunities that individual organizations could not tackle alone.

“Working closely with government and industry is critically important to ensure we are leveraging scientific resources such as high-performance computing and the Department of Energy’s national transportation research facility to solve relevant, complex problems in intelligent mobility,” said ORNL’s Claus Daniel, sustainable transportation program manager. “Our aim is to use cutting-edge research and development to help Tennessee and the nation advance safety and energy savings from increased connectivity.”

TennSMART hosted its inaugural meeting at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy on September 21, 2017. The 2018 TennSMART membership meetings are currently being planned and will be announced soon. Additional members are welcome to join.

Learn more about TennSMART at www.tennsmart.org or send an email to info@tennsmart.org.

TennSMART is a public-private consortium encompassing a growing number of Tennessee and regional organizations working together to develop scientific knowledge and new technologies that could change how America transports people and goods.

Oak Ridge National Lab exec appointed to TVA board

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Jeff Smith, Executive Vice President for Operations for UT-Battelle and Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to the TVA board of directors.

He was nominated September 21, 2017 by President Donald Trump. The confirmation will become official with the president’s signature and when he is sworn in by a federal judge.

Pictured: Jeff Smith

Smith along with James “Skip” Thompson, III; Kenneth Allen; and A.D. Frazier were among the four members confirmed to join the TVA board. They’ll be serving alongside current board members Richard Howorth, Virginia Lodge, Eric Satz and Ron Walter.

Smith delivered the following opening remarks before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works prior to his confirmation:

Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Jeffrey W. Smith and I am the Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I am honored to have been nominated by President Trump to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

In 1999, I moved my family to East Tennessee to take on the role of Deputy for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The laboratory consumes significant amounts of power, and as the Chief Operating Officer, I know large amounts of reliable, low cost electricity is important to executing the important missions assigned by the Department of Energy to Oak Ridge. The laboratory often works with TVA to help recruit new business to the TVA region, and in my role as a senior executive I have participated in these recruitments and seen first-hand the strength of TVA as a driver of economic development. More personally, I own a home on Norris Lake, one of TVA’s reservoirs. As a result, I understand the complex dynamic between hydropower production, flood management, and recreational use of the water resources under TVA control. Based on my professional and personal experiences with TVA over the last 18 years, it is my belief that to successfully fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all who live and work in the Valley, TVA must provide clean, reliable, resilient, low-cost power to our homes and businesses, while protecting the waterways we enjoy, and the air we breathe.

ORNL has a longstanding relationship with the Tennessee Valley Authority, going all the way back to the 1940s and the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project needed a site with ample fresh water and access to tremendous amounts of power. Sixteen miles downstream from TVA’s Norris Damn a site was selected as the home of the secret city that would produce the nuclear materials that accelerated the end of World War II and helped win the Cold War. Simply put, without TVA there would be no Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

During my 18 years at ORNL, I have had the privilege to lead a $400 million modernization effort that has been instrumental in transforming ORNL into the Department of Energy’s largest open science laboratory. I oversee the day to day and operations of an organization with a $1.4 billion annual operating budget, we host approximately 5,000 researchers and associated workers on site, and maintain the infrastructure similar to a small city covering over 4,000 acres.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory operates one of two Department of Energy research reactors. Granted, the High Flux Isotope Reactor is roughly 1/10th the scale of today’s commercial power reactors such as those in the TVA fleet, but the responsibility for this reactor has taught me something about the importance of a strong nuclear safety culture.

I have also had the opportunity to be involved with TVA in several economic development recruitments in which the laboratory has partnered with the State of Tennessee, local municipalities, and TVA to attract new companies to the region. I can tell you that low cost, clean and reliable power is always a consideration in site selection. My personal experience tells me TVA is dedicated to working with local and state governments to encourage economic development and create jobs in the region and this is something that I will continue to support.

I have had a long standing relationship with Battelle Memorial Institute, a not-for-profit company that specializes in managing several R&D laboratories. I have served on the governing Boards for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. As a result, I’ve been involved in the recruitment and selection of several laboratory directors and in the event there is a change in leadership at TVA during my appointment, I believe I can add something to this process.

I have interacted with TVA as an industrial user, as a partner in infrastructure expansion, and to promote economic development. These engagements have given me useful insight into the breadth and depth of TVA’s operations, and to its importance for our region. I believe my background and experience has prepared me for the challenge and responsibility of joining the TVA board.

If confirmed, I am committed to working with my fellow board members and TVA staff to ensure that TVA continues to fulfill its mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. I appreciate your consideration of my nomination and thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

Reflecting on TAEBC’s 2017 accomplishments & what’s to come

As we welcome 2018 and anticipate what it will bring, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) is marking its 2017 achievements.

By championing advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy, TAEBC is positioning the state and its members to increase our leadership role in the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market.

As we enter into a New Year that will likely bring new opportunities and challenges, TAEBC wants to reinforce our commitment to our members and stakeholders:

  • Inform the national energy agenda.
  • Help Tennessee become the #1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.
  • Foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups.
  • Support TVA’s efforts to become the utility of the future.

As we look forward to our annual membership meeting in Nashville, TAEBC shares our top accomplishments from 2017.

  1. TAEBC recognized the Energy Mentor Network‘s one year anniversary at “Opportunities in Energy” on December 7 in Knoxville. The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise. Since last year, the network doubled the number of mentors in the program to 25, and six companies are currently enrolled. Earlier this year, the network also recognized its first graduate, Solar Site Design.
  2. Opportunities in Energy 2017 was a huge success. The featured fireside chat included Chancellor Beverly Davenport, University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The fireside chat was moderated by Tom Ballard, TAEBC Board Member and Chief Alliance Officer at PYA.
  3. Welcome new members: Tim Bewley, Christopher Intellectual Property Law, Clean Energy Advisors, John Noel, Anthony Boon, Coleman Adams, Ryan Stanton, Tennessee Solar Solutions, Revive Energy, John Whaling, Vanderbilt Center for Tech Transfer and Commercialization, and Appalachian Renewable Resources.
  4. “Entrepreneurs in Advanced Energy” video is the fourth in TAEBC’s “This is Advanced Energy” series. The video showcases Tennessee’s advanced energy entrepreneurial success and the organizations driving that success.
  5. TAEBC had a full calendar year filled with events that engaged both members and non-members alike including:
    1. Wacker Polysilicon Plant Tour. Mary Beth Hudson, Vice President of Wacker Polysilicon NA, Charleston Site Manager and TAEBC Board Member provided a keynote address about Wacker’s history, immediately followed with a bus tour of the Wacker facility.
    2. TVA Listening Session with Jay Stowe, Senior VP of DER. During this listening session, Jay Stowe talked about TVA’s future concerning DER and where the energy company is heading in the future.
    3. Lunch & Learn with Jetta Wong, Senior Advisor, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. Jetta has over 14 years of experience developing programs and policies that support energy and environment technologies. She spoke about the status of cleantech, several cleantech accomplishments within the Department of Energy, and the organization she works for the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.
    4. Introduction to the Innovation Crossroads Innovators. Members were invited to meet Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads innovators, as the innovators were introduced to the Energy Mentor Network and our mentors.
  6. TAEBC and Launch Tennessee’s Energy Mentor Network was officially designated as one of the Innovation Crossroad’s Business Mentor Organizations. Innovation Crossroads is a new program based at ORNL that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with the experts, mentors, and networks in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace.
  7. Preparations are already underway for TAEBC to release an updated Economic Impact Report in 2018. The report will further define the scope of Tennessee’s advanced energy sector and quantifies its economic impact. In 2015, TAEBC published the first ever Tennessee Advanced Energy Economic Impact Report.
  8. TAEBC participates as a formal member in TVA’s newly formed stakeholder group: the “Distributed Generation – Information Exchange” or DG-IX for short. TAEBC was recently selected as its micro grid champion, and TAEBC Board Member Jim DeMouy serves on the Solar Stakeholders Group. TVA’s DG-IX was created to provide a forum for a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss the broad issues around the implementation of the distributed energy side of TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan. The group’s purpose is to build greater understanding of issues, technologies, and challenges/opportunities in distributed energy resources; facilitate dialogue among diverse interests; hear ideas, and present options and considerations to each other and TVA as they work to implement the 2015 IRP.
  9. A new board member joined TAEBC in 2017. Mary Beth Hudson serves as the Vice President of Wacker Polysilicon NA and Charleston Site Manager for Wacker Polysilicon. She is responsible for all aspects of manufacturing, supply chain, sales, and profitability of the Polysilicon division throughout the Region.

Remember to save the date for the next TAEBC event, Wednesday, February 28 in Nashville and help plan for a successful 2018.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Jonathan Mills Patrick

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

This week TAEBC welcomes Jonathan Mills Patrick as its newest domain expert enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network. Patrick is a former C-level finance executive turned strategic consultant with more than 20 years of experience and proven results. His skill set is largely around funding where he has been involved in over $500M in debt/equity deals. Additionally, he works with companies on strategic (where he advises companies from pre-revenue to $7B) planning and decisions and marketing. Jonathan also holds a Marketing degree and has led marketing for a $230M organization.

TAEBC is continuing to accept mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.