University of Tennessee Research Park President & CEO Tom Rogers Receives 2022 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award

Contact: Elena Brennan | | 865-329-0553

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) held its 9th annual Opportunities in Energy event today at the Square Room in downtown Knoxville. TAEBC’s end-of-year event, presented by Verizon, assembled over 20 industry, government, and entrepreneurial leaders to showcase the growth of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy over the past year, and preview the future of Tennessee’s energy innovation economy. 

The event included four panels with topics on Energy Justice, Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship, Recycling Electric Vehicle (EV) Batteries, and Advancing Tennessee’s Solar Portfolio, as well as a presentation from Volkswagen on its brand-new ID.4 Electric SUV, now produced at the company’s Chattanooga plant. 

Panelists included advanced energy executives and leaders from Ameresco, the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability, the City of Maryville’s Public Utilities Department, Correlate, DENSO, FC Renew, Florim USA, Middle Tennessee Electric, SEEED, Seven States Power Corporation, Silicon Ranch, SkyNano, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technology Office, and Verizon

During the final panel, leaders from TN-based solar company, Silicon Ranch, and global automotive components manufacturer DENSO, along with representatives from the City of Maryville and TVA, discussed their recent agreement to build four solar power farms that will provide electricity for DENSO’s Maryville manufacturing hub. DENSO officials expect that the solar farms, coupled with additional energy conservation initiatives, will enable the company to provide all of the electrical needs for the Maryville facility from renewable energy.

The event also included the presentation of the 2022 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award, awarded to Tom Rogers, President & CEO of the University of Tennessee Research Park (UTRP), and Executive Director of the Spark Innovation Center. 

“Tom Rogers is a champion for Tennessee’s advanced energy entrepreneurs and startups,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “Throughout his entire career, much of which was spent at ‘the big three’ – TVA, ORNL and UT – he has been instrumental in growing the East Tennessee and Knoxville region into the burgeoning cleantech and innovation hub that it is today. Rogers exemplifies the tireless work of Tom Ballard, an unparalleled leader, educator, mentor, and advocate of Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.” 

Rogers started his career at the Tennessee Valley Authority, eventually moving to the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, as its President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1995, he founded the venture development organization, Technology 2020 (Tech 2020), and served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (now Launch Tennessee). Prior to joining UTRP, he spent over a decade at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, serving as the Director of Industrial Partnerships and Economic Development and founding the Innovation Crossroads program.

At the UT Research Park, Rogers oversees the Spark Innovation Center and its programs, including the new Spark Cleantech Accelerator and Spark Incubator Program. The Center helps promising energy technology companies grow, offering access to top quality lab space, expert mentoring, and coordinating support services from partner organizations in the region. Applications to participate in the cohort two of the Spark Cleantech Accelerator will open in January.

Closing out the 2022 Opportunities in Energy program, representatives from cohort two of Spark Incubator Program showcased their early-stage cleantech companies. Presenting companies included: 

  • Qubit Engineering Inc., a quantum computing company that has developed new optimization methods for micro-siting for wind turbines; 
  • American Nanotechnologies Inc., which leverages low-cost, high-purity semiconducting carbon nanotubes to make state of the art chemical sensors;
  • FC Renew, LLC, which has developed a novel low-cost process to restore degraded hydrogen fuel cells; and
  • Holocene Climate Corporation, which is harnessing organic chemistry to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. 

Photos from the event are available upon request. To learn more about TAEBC’s annual events, click here

About the Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award

The annual award named for Tom Ballard, now Chief Alliance Officer at PYA and Editor-in-Chief of, celebrates leadership, education, mentoring and advocacy in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. Ballard was TAEBC’s first president upon its launch in 2014 and served on the board of directors until 2019. 

In 2019, TAEBC bestowed the first-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award to Ballard himself, during TAEBC’s annual meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub. In 2020, TAEBC awarded Dan Hurst, CEO and Founder of Knoxville-based Strata-G, with the award. And in 2021, then-Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe received the 2021 Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award for the instrumental role he played in bringing advanced energy jobs to the state, particularly in electric vehicle supply chain and manufacturing. 

About Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

TAEBC champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy. Advanced energy is technology neutral and includes electricity and transportation. Anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is in the tent. No other entity in the state concentrates specifically on this robust sector. We educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establish strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities, and inform policy that expands and strengthens the industry. TAEBC hosts the Energizing Tennessee podcast, which explores the latest news and insights about the advanced energy sector. For more information, visit: