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Cohort 5 Update
The Innovation Crossroads Cohort 5 selection process is currently underway. For this Cohort, Innovation Crossroads leadership focused on recruiting entrepreneurs engaged in advancing technologies well aligned with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) strategic initiatives. Thanks to this effort, the program has received a record number of applications, with 83 received in total representing 29 states.

Following an in-depth technical review by a team of researchers and business subject matter experts, 25 startups were chosen to advance to the semi-finals.  The semi-finalists presented their startup technology in a series of 25-minute webinars before a review panel comprised of leaders from the local entrepreneurial ecosystem over three days in mid-January.  From this group, 19 finalists have been selected to pitch to the Innovation Crossroads Leadership Council February 16-17.  Continue to follow Innovation Crossroads on Twitter or LinkedIn to find out who will work with ORNL to advance their technologies beginning in summer 2021.


Expanding Innovator Support
Innovation Crossroads is one of two of the Department of Energy’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs to partner with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps program to provide additional support for early-stage clean energy startups.

Under the agreement, researchers participating in ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads and Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations, will receive funding to prepare for NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I grants.

The funding is part of new opportunities within the “SBIR Phase 0” award program that which provides reimbursement for early business startup expenses not covered by other funding sources.  Program participants will also gain access to online education provided by the Polsky Center and Midwest I-Corps Node.

 

Purist expands team
Leila Safavi, co-founder and CEO of Purist took advantage of the Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) network by participating in the 2020 Internship Program.  The program gives students a unique opportunity to work with a growing startup or ecosystem builder in Tennessee. 
As result of this participation, Purist onboarded John Foster, a business development intern who has now become an employee and a valuable member of the company’s team.

Foster’s focus is on customer discovery and strategic partnerships and Safavi said his warm personality and ability to learn things quickly has already helped Purist engage with many companies and strategic partners. Purist has also gained significant insight into the radiopharmaceutical market’s pain points and required industry regulations through these customer discovery efforts.  Leila stated, “I am grateful to LaunchTN for this valuable program that has given me access to an incredibly talented team member.”
Neptune Fluid Flow Systems excels during pandemic
When Trevor McQueen joined the Innovation Crossroads Program in summer 2019, Neptune was a small startup with a big ambition to address the issues of sample integrity and stability during the preparation, handling, delivery, and storage processes.

Fast forward to 2021 and the company has made significant strides toward its goal of bringing reliability, reproducibility, and repeatability back to research experiments through the fundamental work of enabling science.
Though this past year has presented many challenges, Neptune has persevered.  Some of the company’s many achievements in 2020 include the filing and awarding of two U.S. patents; generating a revenue of more than $25,000 through direct sales of microfluidic products; securing a collaborative grant of $100,000 with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville through the RevV! TN Manufacturing Innovation Program; establishing an off-site R&D facility in the region; and making significant progress on the technical front with an innovative method for depositing and vitrifying biological specimens for cryo-TEM studies. 

Looking ahead, the company expects to generate additional revenue through new product lines in the cryo-TEM market and the continued fostering of collaborations with the local research community and beyond.
Quantum Lock Technologies issued patent
After two years of hard work, Erica Grant’s Quantum Lock technology is officially patented through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

The patented technology is called a quantum random number generator lock that offers the convenience of current smart locks, including the ability to be remotely locked and unlocked, while also being more secure against electronic hacking and physical lock picking by harnessing the power of quantum information.
This is a key milestone for Quantum Lock because it offers validation of the technology's novelty and some protection against potential competitors.  Over the next year, Quantum will use this intellectual property to create an alpha with a door lock system installed in several doors at ORNL in collaboration with ORNL's Cybersecurity Institute. 
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Sponsored by the US Department of Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory






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