Recently, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has opened up two top-rate funding opportunities for young, emerging clean energy companies in Massachusetts. Aimed primarily at university researchers and early-stage companies based in Massachusetts, the Catalyst Program and the InnovateMass Program are meant to fill the funding and opportunity gaps not addressed by private markets and set blossoming clean energy enterprises on a path to successful commercialization.

The Catalyst Program

The Catalyst Program offered by MassCEC provides up to five $40,000 grants each year for companies in the very first stages of their commercial development. Managed by the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, the program seeks to assist young companies in developing proof-of-concepts and/or early prototypes of their technology and to help them reach developmental milestones for follow-on funding in the future. The Catalyst Program, which began in 2010, has given out $1.7 million to more than 40 teams of applicants who have gone on to start seven start-up companies, register patents for 42 inventions, and secure over $35 million in follow-on funding from angel, venture capital, and various other investment sources.

Applications are scored on a variety of categories, including stage of technology, technical viability, commercialization potential, business model, project plan, and budget. Companies applying for Catalyst grants must have no more than 4 employees (or full-time equivalent) and may not possess more than $1 million in capital previously raised. Previous Catalyst Program winners include our client NBD Nanotechnologies, whose grant helped them along the way to a $5.2 million Series A financing. Interested companies and research teams can apply for the Catalyst Program here, and the application deadline is November 3rd.

The InnovateMass Program

Targeted towards up-and-coming clean energy companies with slightly more mature development, the InnovateMass program seeks to accelerate the commercialization of clean energy technology in Massachusetts with multiple grants ranging up to $150,000. InnovateMass is looking for innovative technologies that demonstrate a significant potential for both commercialization and a positive environmental impact. In addition, the review committee seeks to award funding to a diverse set of technologies and looks favorably upon proposals that would provide an economic/employment boost to Massachusetts.

The program requires that two teams of technology providers and demonstration-site hosts co-apply, and they must jointly be able to match 50% of the awarded grant. In addition to the funding provided to winners, InnovateMass also provides winning applicants with in-kind consulting assistance in the form of a third-party project manager and technical consultant. Interested companies can find the request for proposal here, and the deadline for applications is November 26th.