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How Tennessee can leverage its core strengths to become an economic powerhouse in America

By Vanderbilt University Chancellor Daniel Diermeier; University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman; and Council on Competitiveness President and CEO Deborah Wince-Smith:

New knowledge and technology.

New business and industry.

New jobs and opportunities for Tennesseans and the country.

These are the benefits of growing the innovation economy in Tennessee, and across the United States.

Recently, our three organizations — the Council on Competitiveness, Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville — partnered to host the first in the council’s nationwide series called “Competitive Conversations Across America” on Vanderbilt’s campus.

We brought together leaders in business, education, workforce, science and government to uncover the best practices and policies for expanding innovation in Tennessee. These insights will also inform an integrated national strategy designed to enhance economic and productivity growth and inclusive prosperity in Tennessee and across the nation.

Capitalize on Tennessee as America's next innovation hub

In Tennessee, we have a strong foundation for innovation — particularly in the mobility, energy and manufacturing sectors — thanks to robust partnerships among corporations, universities and colleges, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and state and local governments. Venture investments are accelerating growth in the state too.

According to Pitchbook, Tennessee businesses received $1.57 billion in venture capital investment in 2023, a 42% increase from the previous year and the state’s largest year on record. The investments flowing into the state attract more ideas, more companies and more people.

Now is the time to capitalize on Tennessee’s momentum and build America’s next great innovation hub. Tennessee doesn’t need to be the next Silicon Valley or Research Triangle. Instead, Tennessee can drive innovation and support the state in a way that leverages its own unique strengths — and that meets the needs of Tennesseans.