The Knoxville region competes nationally and internationally for the industries, jobs and work force that will allow it to thrive for the long-term.  

Companies and entrepreneurs locate in communities where they can find skilled professionals in a variety of fields, community leadership that supports risk-taking and growth, and a quality of life that is attractive across generations.


The Techstars team researched the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem through extensive gathering of business metrics and dozens of one-on-one interviews. Techstars used primary and secondary data collection, quantitative analysis, relationship mapping, and qualitative surveys to identify relationships that form around key institutions and individuals, and the values and other attributes that have been shown to drive performance. They also identified a range of other sentiments and other characteristics associated with entrepreneurial success.

Techstars produced a written report summarizing its insights and identifying key takeaways for area leaders to act upon. The assessment results and recommendations will help the community assess area existing strengths to build upon, as well as gaps to fill for the long-term sustainability of an innovation effort. 


The written report includes a summary of the current state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, a detailed “scorecard” of relevant parameters in the region, and a roadmap and recommendations for enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. 

The report was presented at a virtual town hall on January 6, 2021.

The assessment focused on the greater Knoxville region, with a primary focus on Knox, Anderson, Blount, and Roane counties.  However, its secondary focus included the other counties that, along with the four primary counties, constitute the Knoxville Metropolitan Area.

This wider, secondary focus concerns the use of any secondary data sources that are tabulated at the level of metropolitan areas.


To grow responsibly as a region, to become known as an attractive location for the industries of the future as well as a great place to live, we need lots of people thinking about it every day. Techstars’ analysis will help us to see the best way to align all of the resources and talents we already have, so we’re helping one another in a way that moves the region forward.

The ultimate goal was to get a full and accurate account of the current state of the Knoxville entrepreneurial ecosystem - an objective set of facts and a shared understanding that will help the community come together to shape a well-informed strategy. The report will provide the evidence base needed to shape the right strategies that will lead to greater new company formation and job creation over the medium and long term.


Techstars provides an informed and expert perspective on the current state of a community’s climate for entrepreneurship, providing a clear and shared understanding of the opportunities and strengths To learn more about Techstars, visit their website at



The Knoxville region must differentiate itself to compete effectively for entrepreneurship and economic growth. As three of the areas’ largest employers, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee want to help position our region for the future. 

Significant potential remains for identifying our area’s assets and closing gaps that weaken the region’s appeal to innovation and entrepreneurial companies. ORNL, TVA and UT have partnered to commissioned Techstars, a global platform for investment and innovation, to provide third-party analysis of the Knoxville region’s potential for economic development, including areas of strength and areas to improve.

This summer, the Techstars team researched the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem through extensive gathering of business metrics and one-on-one interviews.  A complete report can be found here.



Leaders from ORNL, TVA and UT joined Techstars and other community members to discuss the assessment report in a virtual town hall on January 6, 2021.



Individuals from across the community participated in a virtual town hall on Jan. 6, and planning is underway for an accelerator program. Learn more about Techstars accelerators.

For more information on Techstars, email us at