Below you will find the answers to frequently asked questions about the CalSEED 2019 Concept Award application.
The primary purpose of CalSEED is to address a critical funding gap in the early stages of the energy technology development pipeline. Most entrepreneurs and researchers require multiple rounds of funding over several years to successfully commercialize their new energy invention. To obtain this sustained, long-term funding – either through private capital or large government grants—entrepreneurs and researchers must ﬁrst demonstrate that their concept is feasible.
CalSEED provides small funding awards to help California entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses prove out the feasibility of new scientiﬁc concepts for energy applications. These small funding awards, along with support services, provide a launch pad to help entrepreneurs be successful in their clean energy ventures.
CalSEED is funded by California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC). The purpose of EPIC is to accelerate the development and adoption of new low-carbon technology solutions for California’s electricity sector. To ﬁnd out more about EPIC and other Energy Commission activities and funding opportunities for research and development, please visit: http://www.energy.ca.gov/research.
CalSEED awards address a critical gap in the early technology development phase where small amounts of funding can have a signiﬁcant impact in bringing new energy inventions to market. By contrast, other EPIC funding opportunities focus on later stages of technology development, demonstration and adoption. To ﬁnd out more about other EPIC funding opportunities, visit: http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html.
CalSEED provides Concept Award grants of $150,000 each to 20 – 25 projects each year. Additionally, the CalSEED program holds an annual Business Plan Competition for Concept Award winners. Winners of this competition receive a Prototype Award for an additional $450,000 in funding.
There is one call for Concept Award applications annually.
You are encouraged to take advantage of our regional cluster partners, but you are not required to do so for the CalSEED application and your relationship with clusters will not aﬀect the scoring of your application.
CalSEED oﬃces are in Oakland, CA. In-person delivery of applications or in-person meetings or information sessions are not possible.
Yes. For the 2019 Concept Awards, you must have a California address at time of application to be eligible. You will be asked for your address in the eligibility application; you must list your oﬃcial business address or, if applying as an individual, the personal address of the lead applicant.
If you are selected to win an award, you must be registered with the appropriate county in California and in good standing with the California Secretary of State before accepting the award. This is not required at the time of the application.
Yes. CalSEED is open to awarding individuals, businesses, non-proﬁt organizations, academic institutions, research institutions, independent labs, community projects, and other collectives.
Yes, however your application to CalSEED must be for a new concept separate from what was funded under the previous EPIC award. Modiﬁcations or advancements to the technology funded under a previous or current EPIC award are not eligible for CalSEED.
If the concept you are considering submitting was previously funded by EPIC, even if you were a subcontractor, then it is not eligible for CalSEED. The fact that the concepts are in the same area does not preclude the new idea from funding.
Yes and No. A past awardee can be a member of another project team that is applying for CalSEED. A past awardee may not serve as lead applicant on a subsequent application.
Yes, if your project was not funded, you are free to apply again.
No. We only accept one application per lead applicant. You may be on the team for a different application with a different idea, but not as the lead applicant. Similarly, we are only accepting one application per idea–duplicate applications from multiple team members will be rejected.
No, but there is a $1M external private funding cap for applicants. CalSEED seeks to fund projects where $150K will have a significant impact on the development of the concept.
If you are invited to submit a full application, you will be asked to submit a proposed scope of the work that would be funded by the program. There are some restrictions on allowed costs, but the funds can generally be used for most R&D, business development, and other business-related expenses, including labor, fringe, indirect, materials, miscellaneous costs, etc.
Yes, "private" funding does include self-funding.
No match funding is required and having match funding does not increase your chance of receiving an award.
CalSEED will not sign an NDA.
Applications will not be published but will be in the public record and available upon request. We recommend giving enough detail so that the review team can adequately judge your application without disclosing conﬁdential and proprietary information.
Applications will not be published but will be in the public record and available upon request. We recommend giving enough detail so that the review team can adequately judge your application without disclosing confidential and proprietary information.
For the 2019 Concept Awards, applications are being accepted specifically for three technology areas: energy efficiency, renewable generation, and energy storage. The CEC has delineated the kinds of technologies within these three areas that will be considered for CalSEED awards:
While the 2019 solicitation is limited to the technology areas listed in the application manual, none of those areas is weighted higher than the others. Technologies that do not fall within those technology areas will not be considered. CalSEED is not opposed to investing in multiple companies with similar technologies.
CalSEED applicants working on one of the prescribed technologies mentioned above and have early-stage innovations, from concept to basic prototype, are qualified to apply. Your project can be a technology, product, or process. We are looking for projects that benefit the providers of CalSEED funds: people in California who pay electricity bills.
No. CalSEED funds hardware, software, and integrated innovations.
Your project can be technology or an idea. Submissions will be evaluated on benefits to California Ratepayers for greater reliability, lower costs and increased safety as well as their benefit to Disadvantaged Area Communities.
CalSEED is targeting innovations at the earliest stages of development – _from concept to basic prototype. This encompasses innovations at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2-4. For further guidance, please consult the United States Department of Energy Technology Readiness Assessment Guide.
No, a developed prototype will not be a requirement.
We use the Department of Energy’s definitions of the maturity of a concept, called Technology Readiness Levels, to determine eligibility for CalSEED funding. We are looking to fund early stage innovations, or TRL 2 – 4. TRL has traditionally been designed for hardware technologies, but we have tried to explain the equivalents for software and integrated solutions in the following chart.
It is important that innovations supported through CalSEED consider the broad social benefits to residents of California across economic development, access and inclusion dimensions. This insures that the funding remains aligned with EPIC priorities. The most important aspect of the application is the benefit the technology provides for California ratepayers.
Disadvantaged communities are communities designated by CalEPA, pursuant to Senate Bill 535, using the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool “CalEnviroScreen”. CalEnviroScreen was developed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to identify communities in California most burdened by pollution from multiple sources and most vulnerable to its effects, taking into account socioeconomic characteristics and underlying health status. To find out more information on California’s definition for a disadvantaged community, and to determine where they are located, visit CalEPA’s website here: https://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/report/calenviroscreen-30.
Disadvantaged communities need clean energy investments that create healthier environments and reduce the cost of necessities. CalSEED encourages entrepreneurs to develop equitable energy solutions for our most vulnerable populations.
We encourage projects that:
For more information about California’s equity goals, see “A Study of Barriers and Solutions to Energy Efficiency, Renewables and Contracting Opportunities Among Low-Income Customers and Disadvantaged Communities” here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sb350/barriers_report/.
CalSEED applications do not ask for any information on racial identity, gender, or veteran status and thus this information cannot influence an applicant’s scoring in the review process.
Online applications are due by 11:59 PM Paciﬁc time on March 11th. All mail-in applications must be received by March 11th via registered mail.
We estimate that the eligibility application will take approximately one hour to complete. The full application may take 3-10 hours. You should expect to spend additional time gathering the necessary documents and paperwork you’ll need to fill out the application completely, thoroughly, and thoughtfully.
An informational webinar with the same content as in-person information sessions is available on the showcase section of the CalSEED website. A video on the importance of impact is also available on the website. All Q&A will also be documented and available on the website in the public comments section.
Assistance is available in the form of local events, information sessions and the application manual. CalSEED staff are not available for one-on-one application advice. For technical assistance with the application platform, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, be aware that due to the volume of requests, response time may be slower than usual during the application period.
Yes. Join the CalSEED mailing list. This will make sure you are in the CalSEED system. We will contact you when the application process begins. You can also join the New Energy Nexus Mailing list for other funding opportunities beyond CalSEED.
No, please describe your concept using text only.
You can ‘Save Draft’ to preserve your progress in an application, but you cannot edit a submitted application.
Once you have submitted any part of the application, you cannot go back and edit it. If you have submitted in error, and it is before the deadline, please contact us at info@calSEED.fund to reopen your application. No changes can be made after the deadline.
If you want to change your project name, you must do so by starting a new application. You will not be penalized for doing so since the review team will only review fully completed applications.
Letters of support can be from partners, potential customers, or acquaintances to serve as references for your project or team. Please note that Letters of Support are not required.
The online application provides a ﬁllable form for you to enter the details of your Scope of Work. Please use this form as instructed to describe your milestones, tasks, and deliverables. The Scope of Work should describe how you would use a Concept Award.
Depending on the number of applications, the CalSEED team expects the review process to take 3-4 months, however this is subject to change.
Concept Award Winners will be required to develop a Scope of Work and budget for their project. The CalSEED team will provide guidance in the development of these materials. Prospective awardees may also be asked for additional information for inclusion in their recommendation package for the CEC business meeting.
Is “lead applicant” equivalent to key manager/principal investigator?
Does the $1 mil funding cap apply to money raised just for my potential CalSEED innovation or for my entire company?
The funding cap applies to your entire company, not just the innovation you are proposing.