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How Does CalSEED Bridge the Gap for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs? Read Our Interim Report.

Our Approach

CalSEED provides funding and professional development assistance to diverse clean energy entrepreneurs. We work with you to advance your clean energy concept to commercial readiness.

What We Offer

CalSEED supports early-stage entrepreneurs in delivering projects that respond to clean energy, efficiency, or storage needs while considering equity of access and benefit, ensuring these technologies are working to serve California’s most vulnerable populations. As the first step in California’s innovation pipeline, the program incubates energy concepts and readies them for investment and deployment by providing:

  • Targeted professional development services including mentorship with seasoned professionals, legal counsel, expert guidance, and training to support technology refinements, market development, and commercialization.
  • Direct, non-dilutive grant-based funding to advance clean energy innovations to commercialization ($150K for Concept Awards, and a $450K Prototype Award to winners of the annual Business Plan Competition).
  • Access to key accelerator and incubator programs and test facilities.
  • Enhanced access to private capital.

The Entrepreneur Journey

Equity In, Equity Out

Equity-in: We aim to be an inclusive community, so all Californians can participate in the development and implementation of clean energy innovations. This includes small businesses, as well as women, people of color, LGBTIAQ+, rural, veteran, and people from low income or under-resourced communities.

Equity-out: We also encourage entrepreneurs to develop equitable energy solutions that positively impact our most vulnerable populations.

Applicants 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).

Innovation Clusters

Activate Global Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that partners with U.S.-based funders and research institutions to support our fellows. Activate’s entrepreneurial fellowship model originated at Cyclotron Road, a division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and founding Activate partner.

The BlueTechValley Innovation Cluster is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, the perfect proving ground for new water-efficiency and related technologies. Strong partnerships with a number of universities, incubators, grant developers, and acceleration programs enable BlueTechValley to provide a range of technology and business development services.

Cleantech San Diego (also known as Southern California Regional Energy Innovation Network: San Diego, Regional Innovation Cluster) works directly with cleantech entrepreneurs to develop customized plans that include access to advisory support, technology commercialization services, and proof-of-concept and pilot testing. The San Diego Regional Innovation Cluster specializes in a range of energy technologies, including energy storage, smart grids, solar energy, and electric vehicles.

The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) is a private non-profit organization helping to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies by offering flexible office space, CEO coaching, mentoring and access to a robust network of partnerships and capital.

The Energy Innovation Pipeline

CalSEED is the first program in a robust energy innovation pipeline that New Energy Nexus is creating in collaboration with partners and government entities around the globe. We highly encourage all eligible companies to apply for the following programs to continue to advance your innovation:


The California Testbed Initiative (CalTestBed) is a voucher program that provides clean energy companies with access to third-party testing at world-class facilities in order to de-risk their prototypes and accelerate them toward commercialization. The public-private partnership includes more than 60 testing facilities at 9 University of California Campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In addition to the provision of testing, CalTestBed promotes participating companies at an annual national symposium and exposes them to a broad network of next level partners for pilot/demonstration opportunities, investment, and acquisition. Existing CalSEED awardees are not eligible to apply to CalTestBed until they have successfully completed their CalSEED concept awards.


The Bridging Rapid Innovation Development to Green Energy initiative competitively awards subsequent funding for the most promising technologies that had previously received funding for early-stage development from an eligible federal agency or one of CEC’s research programs. BRIDGE helps start-up companies avoid the funding gap between the time a successful project ends and funding for new projects is awarded, a process that can span two to three years.



The Realizing Accelerated Manufacturing and Production initiative provides technical and financial assistance to help clean energy entrepreneurs successfully advance their emerging best-of-class innovative technologies to the low-rate initial production stage. Low-rate initial production is the first step in transitioning from highly customized hand-built prototypes, which are used for pilot testing and vetting with customers, to the final mass-produced product.

Third Derivative and The Clean Fight are business accelerators sponsored in partnership with New Energy Nexus.

New Energy Nexus also has a growing Slack Community with more than 3,700 entrepreneurs sharing resources, career opportunities, networking events and more!

Third Derivative

Founded by Rocky Mountain Institute I and New Energy Nexus, Third Derivative is a global climate technology startup accelerator with the mission of building an inclusive ecosystem that rapidly finds, funds, and scales climate tech innovation.

The Clean Fight

The Clean Fight is a non-profit business accelerator funded by NYSERDA and the DOE that identifies top growth-stage clean energy and EE startups from around the world and helps them scale in NY, assisting with tailored support services, customer partnerships, and non-dilutive investments. The first two cohorts focused on decarbonizing New York’s building stock. Subsequent cohorts will focus on additional areas to help speed the energy transition.

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