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UT, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will host more than 200 university leaders and heads of industry this week at the 21st General Meeting of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership. UIDP21 will be held October 13–16 at the Hilton Downtown Knoxville and the ORNL campus.

UIDP21, an organization of 140 universities and companies, brings people from academia and industry together to have tactical conversations about innovation and research and development.

Given the collaborative research and development relationship UT and ORNL enjoy, the focus of the Knoxville meeting is university–industry–national laboratory partnerships. Attendees will hear from speakers from seven of the US Department of Energy’s national laboratories, professors and administrators from several prominent universities, and industry leaders.

“Our partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory not only puts UT in elite company nationally, it has a profound impact on the state, the nation, and the world,” said President Joe DiPietro. “I’m proud of that partnership and honored that we’re able to share our insights with this distinguished group.”

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said hosting this gathering of university and industry leaders is significant for UT and the national higher education community.

“This is an exciting opportunity to encourage more discussions on college campuses and among industry leaders around the world about how partnerships such as these can produce solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems,” he said.

“UIDP21 is an opportunity to showcase how national laboratories work closely with industry and universities to advance the national research and development agenda,” said Taylor Eighmy, UT vice chancellor for research and engagement. “Cohosting this event with ORNL gives us the opportunity to lay out all our collaborative intersections for others to understand and learn from.”

UT and ORNL’s collaboration dates back to 1946. The university-national lab research enterprise has grown to include five joint institutes and 214 joint faculty as well as various centers and institutes built around advancing the next generation of scientists and tapping the innovative potential of the classroom.

ORNL scientists and UT faculty are collaborating on large initiatives in advanced manufacturing, materials science, bioenergy science, neutron science, and high performance computing, to name a few.

“The Department of Energy’s national laboratories serve an important role helping academia and industry solve particularly difficult scientific and technical problems,” said Thomas Zacharia, ORNL’s deputy for science and technology. “ORNL’s user facilities and expertise serve critical fields such as energy production, manufacturing, and transportation, and UIDP21 gets more people working together to identify breakthroughs and bring them to the marketplace.”

Recent UT-ORNL collaborations have included partnerships with Eastman, Volkswagen, Boeing, Ford, Dow, DowAksa, FedEx, the Kavli Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Following the meeting, UIDP will host a workshop on contracting issues between universities, industry, and Department of Energy national laboratories. Participants will look at mutually beneficial best practices and learn more about the negotiation and implementation of collaborative research agreements.

“Many UIDP members have long been interested in learning more about effective engagement with national labs,” said Tony Boccanfuso, UIDP’s president. “Because of the strong strategic relationship between UT and ORNL, we wanted to bring our members together in Knoxville to experience this relationship in action.”

This is the first UIDP General Meeting hosted by a school in the Southeastern Conference and the first that emphasizes the crucial nature of partnering with national laboratories in the quest for big science.

A list of speakers is available online.


Erin Chapin (865-974-2187,