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Application for Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator opens

Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator, a partnership among Techstars, ORNL, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee System, is based in downtown Knoxville. Credit: Shutterstock

The application to participate in the third cohort of the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator in Knoxville, Tennessee, is open through Nov. 29, 2023.

The accelerator program is operated in partnership among Techstars, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee System. The program, now in its third year, supports and invests in 10 early stage startups with a hard-tech focus, such as artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science, 5G and advanced wireless technology, biotechnology and clean energy.

“Startups are a key element for accelerating the clean energy transition and for advancing emerging technologies important for the nation’s economic security,” said Susan Hubbard, deputy for science and technology at ORNL. “By aligning the strengths and support of a national lab, a university system and an electric utility corporation with creative innovators at an early stage, we are developing fruitful long-term partnerships that help to move important innovations into the marketplace.”

Selected companies participate in an intensive 13-week program of mentorship, training and workshop sessions, and connection to Techstars’ network of mentors, investors, corporate partners and alumni. Companies are eligible for up to $120,000 in funding. The program begins March 11, 2024, and culminates in a Demo Day on June 6, 2024.

Techstars is the largest early stage investor in the world and operates 54 accelerator programs across the world. The Industries of the Future Accelerator is the only Techstars-operated accelerator in Tennessee, the first affiliated with a national laboratory and the first focused on industries of the future.

Brandon Bruce, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of startups Cirrus Insight, Uncat and Evasive.AI, recently joined the Industries of the Future Accelerator as managing director.

“We’re building on the momentum of the first two cohorts, which include startups that have raised millions of dollars in follow-on investment,” Bruce said. “We’re looking for startups that want to transform the future of their industries.

“Our partners ORNL, TVA and UT bring tremendous value to the startups applying for the Industries of the Future Accelerator, including world-class researchers and innovators and unmatched facilities and equipment. It’s in their DNA to continuously invest in the next generation of world changers,” he said.

Bruce has served as board chair of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, co-founder of the Knoxville Technology Council and Startup Knox, board chair of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee and board member of University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit