Part of the UT New Technology Innovation Hub | So Good News


Nine institutions are forming an inclusive innovation corridor connecting the mid-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 high-tech institutions.

The Hub trains and supports talented entrepreneurs, fosters new high-growth companies, and promotes inclusive economic development and prosperity, transforming mid-South metro areas into thriving innovation hubs.

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 partnerships to create new technologies, new businesses and new jobs is exactly what a modern land-grant university should be doing,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “UT is known around the world for our world-class science and engineering research expertise. I’m excited to build on these strengths to empower talented entrepreneurs as they create new products and services to improve the lives and livelihoods of Tennesseans 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 they thrive in, increasing the number of academic innovators who think and act like entrepreneurs, and increasing economic development by contributing to industry success. it’s important to Tennessee’s future.

In fiscal year 2021, UT reported research expenditures totaling $316 million, UT researchers disclosed 137 inventions, and the university supported the creation and growth of more than 30 promising high-tech enterprises. UT’s largest research portfolio is dedicated to advanced energy, where the university consistently ranks sixth in the nation in funding from the US Department of Energy.

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

“We are excited to join our partners in developing Tennessee’s innovation economy,” said Deborah Crawford, UT vice chancellor for research. “UT is committed to supporting and developing hundreds of high-tech businesses over the next five years, and the Mid-South Hub will be critical to our success.”

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

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

“This project will help all partners move up the path from innovation to product and help us fulfill our mission to improve the well-being of our state through education, innovation and the translation of these innovations into society,” said Matthew Mench, dean. Faculty from Tickle College of Engineering and UT lead the hub.

“The corridor supports UT’s efforts to further develop and grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Mark Gibson, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Through this partnership and accelerating foundational translational research into new ventures, we will together enhance the state’s reputation as a center for innovation and commercialization.”

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


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


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