Frequently Asked Questions
1 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: https://www.energy.ca.gov/research.
2 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: https://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html.
3 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.
4 How often do you accept applications?
There is one call for Concept Award applications annually.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Where can I find a map of the four regions?
Click here for a list of counties in each region.
8 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.
9 If we have received an SBIR grant for more than 1 million, are we still eligible?
Yes, you are eligible as an SBIR grant is public funding. The 1 million funding cap is only for private funding.
10 Does the $1M funding cap apply to the date at which you apply for the initial screen (Feb 17 - Mar 5) or after you are invited and complete the full application?
The $1M private funding cap applies up until the last day of the application window, so all private funds raise up until March 5, 2023.
11 If you are not a US citizen can you apply?
You do not need to be a citizen to apply, but you must be located in CA. There are no citizenship requirements for CalSEED funding.
12 Can you submit letters of support?
There is a space to attach letters of support or recommendation letters in the application. It is not part of the criteria or required, but it does look good if you have them.
13 How big does our team need to be?
There are no requirements on the size of the team, it is based on the SOW you propose and if you have the expertise on your team to fulfill that SOW.
14 How many applicants on average are there usually?
We had 170 applicants last year, but we have received 400 applicants in the past, so there is quite a range.
15 Can you be eligible for both CalSEED & CalTestBed?
CalSEED and CalTestBed are sister programs, so a lot of entrepreneurs go from one to the next. It all depends on your TRL, as CalSEED is meant to feed into CalTestBed, as the CalTestBed program is for a higher TRL. And we also do require that you cannot be working on a CalTestBed contract while your CalSEED contract is underway. This is built in as a firewall between the two programs.
16 Do we need to have our company incorporated at the time of application?
No, you do not need to be incorporated at the time of application. If you do receive an award though you will need to be incorporated at the time of getting into contract.
17 If we are trying to pitch a very early stage platform technology/idea and are working on a material that can be used for many applications and ideas, how should we promote this in the application?
A lot of companies face this, some companies start the CalSEED project with one idea and then pivot along the way. In terms of the application, it is worth mentioning the potential end uses for the technology. There is an opportunity in the full application to get more into the science and technical challenges you will be facing. So focus on the science, and list out the potential applications for the project once you have flushed it out a little more.
18 If the team is already working on the prototype to demonstrate the technology, are they still eligible?
You are still eligible to apply even if you have a prototype or are working on a prototype that still needs some work. Not everyone fits exactly into the guidelines. There is always a little exception to these rules. It is really a question of where you are at in the stage of development, so In your application make sure to frame your stage of development that is super specific to the technology.
19 If you have team members in multiple states, one in CA and one outside of CA, are you still eligible?
That is fine, as long as the lead applicant is based In California. To be eligible the company needs to be registered in the state of CA and have a location or base in California.
20 In reference to the Statement of work plan, what is the growth in TRL that is expected for companies during the CalSEED program?
This is very dependent on the technology you are working on. The goal of CalSEED is to help companies move from an idea to a marketing stage.
21 In the event that we are able to raise funds during the program, if we exit the program with more than 1 million private in funding, are we still eligible for the prototype award?
Yes! We encourage companies to continue raising while they are participating in the CalSEED program.
22 We have an integrated solution where the hardware and software components are at different stages of development. How will this affect our chances of getting the award?
It can be hard to say with an integrated solution, as one component might be far along and the other piece might not be as far. In these cases it will be very important in the application that when you explain your stage of development to be very clear on which part of the project you will be using the CalSEED funds for.
23 Is the budget information required during the application?
No, this is not required during the application. You will be asked how much private money you have raised so far, but if you receive the award budgeting is not done until the contracting phase, which is after onboarding.
24 If a university awarded us a small portion of funding, will this affect our eligibility?
There is an opportunity to disclose this in the application, and the eligibility committee can take a closer look during the initial eligibility application.