UT to Build High-Tech Business Incubator

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee has completed the fundraising for a new technology-focused business incubator facility to be built on the Knoxville campus, officials announced Friday.

The UT Research Foundation has received $2.5 million in local, state and federal grants to finance construction of the facility, which will house start-up companies using technology created by UT scientists and researchers.

Architectural rendering of new UT business incubator

The federal money came as a matching grant for funds contributed by UT, Knox County, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Knoxville Utilities Board.

“This is an important initiative for the University of Tennessee,” UT President John Petersen said, “and I want to thank all our partners who came together to make this a reality.

“This project simply could not have happened without the support of literally dozens of individuals in the region, and the university is deeply grateful for this support.”

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said the incubator will have short-range and long-range benefits to the region.

“In the short term, the winners will be the entrepreneurs who grow new businesses from UT technologies,” Ragsdale said. “In the long term, we all will be winners as we reap the benefits of a stronger economy.”

Matt Kisber, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said, “One of Governor Phil Bredesen’s key economic strategies is to encourage the growth of tech companies, and UT’s new facility will boost efforts to create better jobs for Tennesseans.”

Congressmen Jimmy Duncan and Zach Wamp assisted in securing federal funds for the project.

“I am very pleased that UT has received this grant money,” Duncan said. “This incubator will create new high-paying jobs and will bring new private investment to our community.”

Wamp said, “The incubator enhances the university’s work to directly result in high-tech growth in the Tennessee Valley Corridor. I see this potential and believe these technology investments will leave a generational legacy for the people of the East Tennessee Valley.”

The UT Research Foundation will work with the Center for Entrepreneurial Growth (CEG), a division of Technology 2020, to assist the creation and growth of new start-up companies. UT will provide the technology and CEG will provide the new companies with business planning and execution. CEG will manage the new facility.

UT faculty and staff are responsible for an average of 60 new inventions each year, Dr. Fred Tompkins, UT Interim Vice President for Research and President of the UT Research Foundation, said. Over the past 25 years, more than 450 patents have been generated from research at UT.