Tennessee is poised to become the next great center of American innovation.
Home to one of the nation’s leading research labs, several top research universities, a growing workforce and a stunning landscape, the Volunteer State is poised to drive world-changing innovation.
At the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, we are ready to help guide economic change that will bring high-paying jobs and create opportunities for both individuals and communities.
We are proud to be a founding member of the Tennessee Business Forum, which brings together leaders from many industries and government agencies and policymakers, bringing collaboration and focus to our goals.
UT is committed to this support and investment in the forces that drive our new economy: people, relationships and places.
Talent drives the economy
Innovation is made possible by the creativity and ingenuity of people at all levels. From high school graduates with on-the-job training to college graduates with advanced degrees, companies need skilled workers that meet their needs.
At UT, our growing enrollment helps build that workforce. We are simplifying our curriculum and creating new degree programs that allow students to learn the skills necessary to thrive in the new economy.
UT has helped establish a network of 40 Tennessee colleges and universities committed to improving our economy and preparing graduates for the jobs of the future. Together, we will deliver on our state’s workforce needs and create opportunities for all Tennesseans.
Universities and companies make good partnerships
Public and private sector actors can address some of the most pressing challenges facing industry and society.
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To maximize our impact, UT is focused on innovative platforms that transform our power as an industry that creates economic opportunity for our state.
We have partnerships with global leaders such as Eastman Chemical, Lockheed Martin, AT&T and Volkswagen, which built the first North American Innovation Hub at UT’s research campus at Cherokee Farm. Through our partnership with Techstars and UT’s Spark Innovation Center program, we are growing high-tech innovation and supporting talented Tennessee entrepreneurs.
Proximity encourages support
The place can be a powerful convention – and Tennessee has a lot to offer.
Companies that look to the voluntary state find world-class staff, high-quality facilities and trusted partners. Meanwhile, the federal government sees value in investing in new areas for research and development in the heart of the country.
Tennessee has many opportunities for innovation in the transportation sector, building on our longstanding strengths in automotive manufacturing and requiring us to continue to invest in increasing computing power and intellectual capacity.
We are working on making cars easier and stronger and innovation and computing will improve our transport network. Partners such as UT Chattanooga, Vanderbilt University and the University of Memphis are also working on mobility innovations.
Together, we are creating a new ecosystem that stretches from the Mississippi River to the Appalachian Mountains.
Others look to Tennessee
I recently joined Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and outgoing Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia on a panel in Washington, DC.
Leaders from across the country join us to hear how Tennessee is positioning itself for the economy of the future — and how a research center that includes national labs and universities can be a force of gravity for these changing industries. change.
What I took away from that panel discussion – and from many of my conversations with leaders in our state and beyond – is that working together will be key to building the future we want.
We have all the pieces to become America’s next innovation giant – now let’s build it.
Donde Plowman has served since 2019 as president of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a state-grant research university. During that time, the university has seen record enrollment, student retention rates, alumni giving, state support and research spending.
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce offers Tennessee-based business leaders the opportunity to engage with other leaders from a variety of industries to discuss a wide range of local policy and regulatory issues. Learn more at Tennesseebusinessforum.com.