Building the Technology Talent Pipeline for America

The University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute will create a robust talent pipeline in areas of growing national need and demand. As a result, Tennessee will become the “go-to” destination for top-level talent development and discovery.

The UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute will address emerging, top-tier industry and workforce needs. The institute will develop scientists and engineers, who will be locally relevant and globally competitive. Students will be prepared by teaching innovation and interdisciplinary problem-solving skills.


Seed Funding Opportunities

ORI Seed Funding Opportunities
The University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute has established a Seed Funding program to support new and highly innovative multidisciplinary research projects designed by ORNL-UT research teams.

Learn More about Seed Funding opportunities


A University of Tennessee graduate student writing calculations on dry erase board


To strategically align the expertise and infrastructure of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to usher in world-class interdisciplinary research and graduate education.



To become the coveted home for convergent research and talent development, helping maintain U.S. prominence as a global innovation leader and provide tangible impact to Tennessee.



The overarching goals of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute are to:

  • Establish robust partnership platforms that promote industry engagement, entrepreneurship and technology implementation for economic and community development;
  • Provide flexible mechanisms that promote discovery and innovation especially in, but not limited to, areas related to data science and technology, advanced materials and outcomes-based applications;
  • Build on existing joint programs to strategically integrate collaborative opportunities between UT and ORNL; and
  • Offer an enriched interdisciplinary educational and research experience for students.


The Summit supercomputer at ORNL
Photo by Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To accomplish the mission and vision of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, the institute must operate differently than past organizations.

On June 21, 2019, the UT Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution creating the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute. The establishment of the institute forges a path of increased collaboration and alignment, and will enhance Tennessee’s ability to provide top-tier talent in areas of national need. The UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute will maximize coordination of the many joint programs at UT and ORNL, bring together colleges and departments across UT campuses and ORNL and remove barriers to collaboration that will usher in world-class interdisciplinary graduate research and education.

Steering Committee

  • Moody Altamimi
  • Suresh Babu
  • Michelle Buchanan
  • Heidi Goodrich-Blair
  • Moe Khaleel
  • David Manderscheid
  • Matthew Mench
  • Jeff Nichols
  • Stacey Patterson
  • Soren Sorensen
  • Bobby Sumpter
  • Janis Terpenny
  • Brian Wirth
  • Xin Sun


Oak Ridge Institute Report

Download the Recommendations of the Steering Committee (PDF)
Dec. 31, 2019



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