Today, Safire Technology Group, Inc. (Safire Group), a venture-backed company developing and manufacturing Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery safety technology, announced its expansion to Knoxville, Tennessee, with the opening of a new laboratory at the University of Tennessee Spark Innovation Center. The laboratory will support the continued growth of the company, housing Safire Group’s research and development division and allowing the company to continue innovating its patented SAFe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE™) additive for Li-ion batteries.
The new location is strategically chosen to allow Safire Group to build on its existing partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In 2022, Safire Group and ORNL announced an exclusive licensing agreement for Safire Group to commercialize the ORNL-invented SAFIRE additive. Andrew Hanna, formerly of ExxonMobil Corporation, will oversee Safire Group’s Knoxville facilities as Head of Product and Brand.
“The new laboratory, with its close proximity to ORNL and the University of Tennessee, offers a world-class pipeline of talented scientists and engineers,” said John Lee, co-Founder, and CEO, of Safire Group. “The Knoxville area represents an attractive choice to expand our battery R&D capabilities and hire highly qualified talent from the community.”
The Spark Innovation Center, located in the University of Tennessee Research Park, focuses on entrepreneurship development and commercialization of regional technology-based startup companies. Invitation to lease space in the collaborative state-of-the-art facility is highly competitive, and Safire Group’s selection confirms the company’s progress and capabilities in the battery innovation industry.
“The Spark Innovation Center focuses on helping our region’s most promising technology companies gain traction and grow in Tennessee,” said University of Tennessee Research Park President and CEO Tom Rogers. “We are delighted that another cleantech company has decided to call the Research Park and Knoxville home as Safire Group works to commercialize ORNL technology.”
“I am excited to welcome Safire Group to Knox County,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Not only will the group be an asset in retaining and attracting talent for our workforce, but this announcement is also a tangible example of the importance of our innovation engines-in this case, ORNL and the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm-working with the private sector to bring quality jobs and economic opportunity to the Knox County area.”
“Safire Group’s move to the Spark Innovation Center in Knoxville is another big win for our city and this entire region,” said Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon. “This cleantech company perfectly complements our efforts to make it easy, safe, and affordable for individuals and businesses to switch to electric vehicles, making our air cleaner and our city more resilient.”
“The Knoxville Chamber is committed to supporting innovative entrepreneurs that are creating high-wage, high-growth companies,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development, Knoxville Chamber. “This announcement directly aligns with the Chamber’s efforts to transition Knoxville’s economy. Safire Group is doing a great job of capitalizing on multiple regional assets, including ORNL and Spark Innovation Center. We are excited to see them attracting new talent from out-of-state and retaining local talent through internships.”
Alongside the Knoxville Chamber and Spark Innovation Center, the ribbon cutting and accompanying press conference will be held on Tuesday, January 24 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern at the Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing. Scheduled speakers include Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Knox County; Mayor Indya Kincannon, City of Knoxville; Tom Rogers, president, and CEO, The University of Tennessee Research Park; Susan Hubbard, Deputy for Science and Technology, ORNL; Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development, Knoxville Chamber; and John Lee, co-founder, and CEO, Safire Group.