CalSEED gives grants to exciting clean energy innovations across California

Applications for the 2021 CalSEED program are closed.

Entrepreneur Journey

IMPORTANT APPLICATION DATES 2021

August 18th & 25th

Register for Virtual Information Sessions

August 23rd

September 5th

Applications Close

Eligibility Screening Begins

September 13th

Eligible Applicants Invited to Submit Additional Information

October 3rd

Deadline for Submission of Additional Information from Eligible Applicants

HOW TO APPLY?

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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 (PSPS), particularly for vulnerable populations that face barriers accessing and affording technologies to cope with the PSPS events. 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: Can you tell me if my technology is eligible?

A: At the bottom of the APPLY page under “Eligibility” there is a list of technologies that are eligible for funding this year. This information can also be found in the 2021 Application Manual. A review panel will be screening all applications for fit within these categories; CalSEED staff is not making any determinations about a specific technology at this point in time. If you think your technology fits in one of those categories, or even comes close to fitting, you should apply! The initial application should not take more than 1 hour to complete.

Q: Is there someone at CalSEED who may be available to discuss the CalSEED application process with me?

A: CalSEED staff are not available for one-on-one application assistance, but you should consider attending one of the information sessions that will be held Aug 18 and 25 (the same material will be covered in both sessions). Links to those events are also on the APPLY page.

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: When can I expect grant payments to start happening?

A: There are a number of variables that influence when you start receiving grant payments. Should your application pass the eligibility screening and score high enough to be recommended for a CalSEED Concept Award, all awards need to be approved by the California Energy Commission in one of their monthly Business Meetings. We hope that this will happen in Winter 2021/22. Then there are more steps to go through with orientation and finalizing contracts. Because there are a number of things that could happen with the CEC and in your startup to cause delays, the CalSEED team does not commit to a date for when you can expect to see grant payments.

Q: What does it mean to be in good standing with the California State Secretary?

A: The California Certificate of Good Standing is an official certificate of status issued by the California Secretary of State that confirms authorization of corporations, LLC or LLP to undertake business within the state and further confirm that the corporation has fulfilled all annual reporting and tax payment duties.

Q: I don’t see my technology on the list of eligible technologies, what do I do?

A: The kinds of technologies that are eligible for CalSEED funding in 2021 can be found on pages 6 and 7 of the 2021 Application Manual and at the bottom of the CalSEED APPLY page under the “Eligibility” tab. This table is an exhaustive list of which technology areas are eligible for CalSEED funding in 2021; technologies not in this table are not eligible. This list changes each 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, and consider joining the CalSEED mailing list to be informed of eligible technologies in the future.

Q: When I submitted my application, I received an error message that says the deadline has passed.

A: The CalSEED team is aware of this error message and is working with the platform administrators to fix this glitch. If you have received this error message, it is very likely that your application has been successfully submitted. In order to check, please log back in and view your application again, you will see confirmation in green bold type.

Q: Does revenue count towards the private funding cap?

A: Yes. CalSEED Concept Awards are intended for early-stage startups where $150,000 in grant funding will have a meaningful impact. This includes companies that have received very little to no funding to date, have limited access to outside capital, are not candidates for traditional forms of investor financing, and are pre-revenue.

Q: In reviewing the terms and conditions posted on CalSEED’s website, the provisions are fairly onerous especially for a small company and the IP provisions (Section 24) seem very skewed in favor of the Energy Commission. Are these terms set in stone or something that can be negotiated if selected for an award?

A: Unfortunately, these terms and conditions flow down from the EPIC legislation, so it is not possible to negotiate if selected for an award. If you are selected for an award, the CalSEED team will walk through the IP provisions and answer questions. While the CalSEED team cannot give legal advice, it is suggested that you pay close attention to the kinds of technologies these provisions apply to.

Q: We are incorporated in another state, are we still eligible for a CalSEED award?

A: As the source of these funds is electricity rate payers in California, we do require that all project funds are used in California. To that end, when the panel screens the initial applications, they will make sure that the project address is in California. Your company can be incorporated or headquartered somewhere else, but we do need a project address in California on the initial application.