CalSEED is seeking applications for exciting clean energy innovations from across California

The next application window will open 28 February 2020!

Entrepreneur Journey

IMPORTANT DATES 2020

02.12

02.21

02.28

Applications Open

03.16

Applications Close

Eligibility Screening Begins

03.26

Eligible Applicants Invited to Submit Additional Information

04.16

Deadline for Submission of Additional Information from Eligible Applicants

HOW TO APPLY?

1

2

5

Link for application website coming 28 February!

6

Complete your online application.

INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

What is the primary purpose of CalSEED?

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 open to applicants working on early stage innovations — from concept to basic prototype:

  • The proposed innovation should benefit California ratepayers
  • You must be located in California, provide your California address, and be in good standing with the California Secretary of State
  • Be under the $1 Million private funding cap
  • The concept should be pre-demonstration scale (Technology Readiness Level 2-4)
  • Be within for one of the specified technology areas

Applications are being accepted specifically for the following technology areas:

Applications are accepted for hardware, software, and integrated solutions:

 

 

As California continues to promote clean energy and sustainable innovations, we must ensure that clean energy solutions address the interests and needs of underrepresented populations (including renters, low-income populations, rural communities and disadvantaged communities), and that these communities can fully participate in the benefits and opportunities of a clean energy economy.

To this end, CalSEED is committed to increasing access to clean energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage technologies, reducing pollution burdens, providing economic opportunities, and reducing the need for Public Safety Power Shutoffs, particularly in vulnerable populations that face barriers accessing and affording technologies to cope with the power shutoffs. Social equity is a key component of this program. This includes job development, training, contracting, supplier diversity and economic development. 

You will be asked to identify how, when scaled, the proposed technology could:

  • Create economic opportunities.
  • Increase access to clean energy solutions.
  • Decrease pollution burden.
  • Be deployed in a disadvantaged community and/or low-income community.
  • Improve the resiliency and reliability of electricity service impacted by extreme weather-related events (ex. wildfires).

Where does the funding for CalSEED come from?
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.

How is CalSEED distinct from other funding opportunities through EPIC?
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.

How much do you invest?
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 Prototype Award competition receive an additional $450,000 in funding.

How often do you accept applications?
There is one call for Concept Award applications annually.

How can I make sure I am notified about important upcoming dates and deadlines?
Make sure to join the CalSEED mailing list found at calseed.fund. This will ensure you receive all emails regarding application openings, information sessions, and deadlines.

Should I reach out to a Regional Energy Innovation Cluster?
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.

Where can I find a map of the four regions?
Click here for a list of counties in each region

Does CalSEED have an office?
CalSEED offices are in Oakland, CA. In-person delivery of applications or in- person meetings or information sessions are not possible.

Q: What does it cost to apply?

A: There is no cost to apply for a CalSEED grant.

Q: Can I apply for both the proof of concept and prototype grants at the same time?

A: There are two stages to CalSEED Awards. 

  1. The first stage is the Concept Award ($150K), and the application window February 28 – March 16 is only for this CalSEED Concept Award.
  2. The second stage is the Prototype Award ($450K), and only existing CalSEED Concept awardees are eligible to compete for the Prototype Award.

Q: Is there a person I can call to discuss my application?

A: Individual information sessions are not possible. Due to the high level of interest and demand in the CalSEED grant opportunity, we do not have bandwidth for individual phone calls. The CalSEED team ensures that all information that is made available to any applicant is available to all applicants. Please:

  • Read the Application Manual
  • Watch the recorded webinars
  • Attend an Information Session that is open to everyone (see IMPORTANT DATES 2020 above).

Q: In the eligibility requirements, there is a table that shows which technology areas applications are being accepted for. Are other technologies excluded?

A: This table is an exhaustive list of which technology areas are eligible for CalSEED funding in 2020; technologies not in this table are not eligible. This is the list for 2020, and it will likely change next year.

If your technology is not on this list, please consider joining the Empower Innovation Network to find out about other public funding opportunities for clean energy technology development

Q: Is my IP protected in the application platform?

A: The application platform (SmartSimple) is secure. However, please show discretion when disclosing intellectual property or sensitive information. This goes for any public grant you apply for. It is the responsibility of applicants to present their ideas in a compelling way, while also protecting their intellectual property and sensitive information.

Q: My company is just getting started, we can’t afford to think about social impact. Why is this part of the scoring criteria?

A: CalSEED is an EPIC grant program. EPIC funds come from electricity rate-payers in California, e.g. electricity customers. As this is a public source of funding, applicants must show how their innovations, when scaled, will bring economic and social benefits to California.

It is not too early to start. The CalSEED team believes that social impact should be built into the foundation of how ideas are conceived, how products are designed, and how companies are run.

Additionally, as you speak with impact investors, potential corporate partners, and other government agencies, being able to authentically speak about the social and economic benefits of your innovation can open doors for you.

Q: In the Full Application, how are the criteria weighted in the final score?

A: All four sections of the Full Application are weighted equally:

25% Innovation

25% Impact

25% Readiness

25% Team