~ from Zachary Clark, Deputy Press Secretary Senate Republican Caucus

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) announce the appropriation of $72 million in the FY 22-23 state budget for the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute in Oak Ridge. The institute was established in 2019 and is set to expand into one of the nation’s top research and education centers with this appropriation.

An initiative of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the institute is launching in response to America’s need for a stronger pipeline of STEM talent. UT-ORII will attract and produce top engineers, researchers and innovators to meet the emerging challenges facing the nation and the world.

“I am tremendously grateful to see the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute fully funded and ahead of schedule. This institute will be a beacon for STEM talent, discovery, education and innovation,” said McNally. “The Oak Ridge technology corridor will only expand and increase its reputation and reach once this vision is fully realized. I would like to thank the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Governor Lee for making this a truly transformational institution for the benefit of Tennessee.”

The institute will train more Tennesseans for high-paying jobs in manufacturing, energy and data science, and it will become a national model for collaborative research, interdisciplinary education and workforce development.

“The Oak Ridge Innovation Institute is leading the way in making Tennessee a STEM hub and is elevating UT-Knoxville to one of the nation’s leading research facilities,” said Yager. “The institute will also be a regional economic driver. This is a transformative investment for the Oak Ridge Corridor that will help advance our state and country for generations to come.”

UT-ORII will prioritize three main focus areas: research, education and workforce development. The institute will recruit the best and brightest researchers from across the country; it will form partnerships to advance research throughout university campuses, private industry and government; and it will fund joint research opportunities.

The General Assembly made an initial appropriation of $8 million for the institute last year. The combined $80 million will complete the state’s investment to fully establish the institute eight years ahead of schedule.