Convergent Research Initiatives

The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) was created to strategically align ORNL and UT expertise and infrastructure in research and graduate education. 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.

UT and ORNL researchers are working together to advance research and discovery in four important areas:

A CRI within UT-ORII will typically receive $20 million in direct funding from UT and ORNL over a five-year period. On the UT side, the majority of these funds come from the state of Tennessee. On the ORNL side, funding comes for the Lab Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. These funds cover the new researchers’ initial salaries and upfront costs, with the expectation that each researcher will secure external funding through research grants and other funding opportunities to cover future costs.

Each CRI will use these funds to recruit and establish a total of 20 joint researchers: 10 at UT and 10 at ORNL,  and involve more than 25 UT Ph.D. students. With the addition of these two new CRIs and others to be launched in the future, UT-ORII expects to have 100 new researchers (50 at UT and 50 at ORNL) actively supporting the majority of their work with external funding by 2030.