Tech support

UT is part of the new technology-focused innovation center

Nine institutions form an inclusive innovation corridor linking the central-south region.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a founding member of the National Science Foundation’s new Mid-South Innovation Corps Hub, a regional coalition of nine technology-leading universities.

The hub will prepare and support talented entrepreneurs, stimulate new high-growth businesses, and foster inclusive economic development and prosperity, transforming south-central metropolitan areas into thriving centers of innovation.

The hub will be launched in January 2023 and will help the region maximize its innovation economy potential until at least 2028.

“Using our resources and our partnerships to create new technologies, new businesses and new jobs is exactly what a modern land-grant university should do,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “UT is known around the world for its world-class expertise in scientific and technical research. I am excited to build on these strengths to empower talented entrepreneurs to create new products and services to improve the lives and lives of Tennessees and others around the world.

UT plans to strengthen the state’s innovation economy by creating and supporting vibrant high-tech companies and the community ecosystems in which they thrive, increasing the number of academic innovators who think and act like entrepreneurs and improving economic development by contributing to the success of industries. that are important to the future of Tennessee.

In fiscal year 2021, UT reported research expenditures totaling $316 million, UT researchers generated 137 invention disclosures, and the university supported the creation and growth of more than 30 promising high-tech companies. UT’s largest research portfolio is in advanced energy, where the university consistently ranks sixth in the nation for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In addition to UT, founding members are Vanderbilt University, George Mason University, Jackson State University, Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University, University of Kentucky , the University of Louisville and the University of Virginia.

“We are thrilled to join forces with our partners to grow Tennessee’s innovation economy,” said Deborah Crawford, UT Vice Chancellor for Research. “UT aims to support and grow hundreds of high-tech companies over the next five years, and the Mid-South Hub will be critical to our success.”

The effort received broad bipartisan support from Tennessee federal lawmakers, including Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty and Representatives Tim Burchett, Jim Cooper and Chuck Fleischmann.

In the near future, members plan to meet for a summit to develop the hub’s five-year vision for the inclusive innovation corridor.

“The Corridor supports UT’s efforts to further nurture and grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Marc Gibson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. “With this partnership and the acceleration of groundbreaking translational research into new ventures, we will collectively enhance the state’s position as a hub of innovation and commercialization.”

Established in 2011, the NSF I-Corps program is designed to support the commercialization of new technologies emerging from discoveries in basic science and engineering. Since its inception, more than 1,900 NSF I-Corps teams have participated in the program.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, [email protected])