Projects Bolster Innovation Valley Claim as World-Class Research and Entrepreneurial Hub

March 17, 2009

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Two far-reaching projects announced in recent days further bolster the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley’s claim as a world-class center of research, entrepreneurial activities and high tech jobs.

Work begins this week on the 188-acre Cherokee Farms high tech park on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus. The first building planned for the park, the Joint Institute for Materials Science, is one of several cooperative ventures between the university and Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), the Department of Energy’s largest science and energy lab and home to extensive bioenergy-, nanotech- and homeland security-related research, and the most powerful computer in the world for open science.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) has unveiled plans for the “Tennessee Valley Enterprise,” a regional network anchored in Oak Ridge that will utilize existing assets, including surplus federal properties, to improve national energy security.

Economic development officials throughout the Innovation Valley are counting on extensive DOE investments in the project, including federal stimulus money dedicated for cleanup and energy development. With 4,300 employees, ORNL is one of the region’s largest employers. Its economic impact, however, extends well beyond its payroll. Over the past decade, the lab has subcontracted more than $1.5 billion to small businesses and has contributed key innovations for 80 high tech business startups.

DOE deputy assistant secretary Mark Gilbertson said the Innovation Valley “is a perfect example” of how vital research and a strong economic future fit together.

Oak Ridge also houses the Oak Ridge Science and Technology Park, the only private enterprise park at a national lab campus, and the East Tennessee Industrial Park, an extensive reindustrialized site on former federal land.

“Public and private partnerships, research, and regional cooperation in economic development definitely put us at an advantage,” said Kim Denton, president of the Oak Ridge Economic Partnership. “The Innovation Valley has become a true crossroads – a place where research leads to economic development.”

She cited as a case in point Thom Mason, who in addition to his duties as ORNL director also chairs the Innovation Valley five-year initiative and is president and CEO of UT-Battelle, the joint venture between the University of Tennessee and Battelle that manages the national lab.

For more information about the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, contact Garrett Wagley at 865/865-246-2661 or at gwagley@knoxvillechamber.com or visit www.innovationvalleyinc.org.

SOURCE Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley

Source: newswire

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