Funding Big Ideas

The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) is expanding funding opportunities for university faculty members and graduate students engaging in UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory collaborative research. Each year, UT-ORII and the Science Alliance invest about $7 million in UT-ORNL joint research.

A core pillar of UT-ORII’s approach is support for Convergent Research Initiatives (CRIs), within which a concerted investment is made to support UT and ORNL’s collaborative work in emerging areas of strength for the combined institutions . CRIs within UT-ORII will typically receive $20 million in direct funding from UT and ORNL over a five-year period.


The purpose of CRI pilot funding is to initiate and establish collaborations within CRI communities that will enable future successful collaborative funding applications and jumpstart work with newly recruited convergent research initiative investigators.

Graduate Advancement, Training and Education (GATE)

The Graduate Advancement, Training and Education (GATE) program supports meritorious, collaborative research between graduate students and ORNL via assistantships and fellowships awarded by individual departments.

The Science Alliance started the PACT program in 2021 to provide support for collaborative research endeavors aimed at securing large extramural funding, such as NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers or NIH RM1 grants

Support for Affilitated Research Teams (StART)

The Science Alliance started the StART grant program in 2019 to generate new funding for collaborative UT-ORNL teams of scientists and engineers.