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Read the Application Manual for the 2020 Concept Award Applications!
Watch this video about the importance of impact and social equity for the CalSEED program.
Review the CalSEED Award Application Questions.
Watch the Concept Award Application Webinar.
Complete your online 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 open to applicants working on early stage innovations — from concept to basic prototype:
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:
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.
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:
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:
Q: Are my own personal/family funds counted as raised funding for this technology in the past?
A: Yes, “private” funding does include self-funding.
Q: Are loans (i.e money that is structured as debt) also counted as funds that have been raised?
A: Yes, loans are counted as private funding.
Q: Is there a place to include letters of support in the application?
A: This application window (February 28 – March 16) is for an eligibility screening. Applications will be screened by a panel of experts, and those applications that meet all the eligibility criteria will be invited to fill out a full application. There will be an opportunity to upload letters of support in the full application.
Q: Can a team submit two separate applications?
A: 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.
Q: I have submitted my application, but when I log back in, it still appears in the ‘In Progress’ tab as Open and not shown in the ‘Submitted’ tab. Since the application is submitted and thereby closed to any updates, should I expect to see it list in the Submitted tab?
A: If the status under the “In Progress” tab is “Minimum Criteria Submitted”, then your application has been submitted successfully. When the application window closes at 11:59pm on March 16th, you will find your application under the “Submitted” tab.
Q: Due to the coronavirus outbreak and difficulties, I wasn’t able to meet the deadline on March 16. Is there any possibility that the deadline would be extended for a few days?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot move any of the dates on our timeline. We understand that this is a trying time, however, the application window opened on February 28th before things escalated to where they are now. This timeline was posted to our Apply page at the end of January, as this is a competitive process, we cannot make exceptions for any applicant.
Q: I received confirmation that my application was submitted, and attached to it was a .pdf of my applications. I noticed that the questions from page 7-13 were not completed. I did not see the opportunity to answer these questions when I applied. I would like to ask if there might be any opportunity for us to still address these questions?
A: The attachment to this confirmation email includes all questions that are included in both the first eligibility screening and the Full Application. If you received a confirmation email with your application attached, you successfully submitted your application for eligibility and did not miss any of the questions for this eligibility screening.
Q: If I attach something to an email and send it to email@example.com, will it be included with my application?
A: Only the information that is in the application form online is considered by the expert panel conducting the eligibility screening and the Technical Advisory Committee scoring full applications. Attachments to emails will not be evaluated in the application process.
Q: What are the “four geographic regions” in California?
A: Here is a link to the map of four geographic regions with a list of counties in each region.
Q: After submitting the full application, what is the timeline moving forward?
A: All full applications are scored by a Technical Advisory Committee. The highest scores per region will then go to the CEC for final approval in one of their monthly Business Meetings. We hope this will happen late summer, after which time the winners will be announced.
Q: In the full application, as we work on the Scope of Work for our full application, should we include dates?
A: There is no need to include dates in the scope of work, but a tentative timeline is good.
Q: We didn’t see any materials on the period of performance for the award. How long do CalSEED projects last?
A: There is not a set standard length of time for CalSEED awards, but a lot of CalSEED projects last for 12 months, some last only 6 months while others can be 18 months in duration.