Starting Feb. 17, CalSEED is opening a window to accept applications for Cohort 6 awards. The window closes March 5. Joy Larson went over the new features of this program with two of her colleagues (Lindsey Roark of CalSEED and Sneha Ayyagari of the Greenlining Institute) at our Perspectives event on January 31. It was a very informative session and it is all queued-up for you on our LinkedIn channel or as a condensed video on our website. This has been the single most-effective program for getting small grants to innovators to develop their ideas. We have seen 8 companies in our region get funding this way. The money is available to prove-up a concept ($150,000) and then for developing the most promising ones in a second phase ($450,000).
Here are the basic things you need to know:
1. They have limits on eligibility: You need to be working on a concept at an early stage (Technology Readiness Level 2, 3, or 4), you have raised less than $1 million in private money, and your innovation is based in California and will benefit California ratepayers.
2. You must have an innovation that fits in one of the 19 categories of specified technology areas.
3. Applications are done in two stages. The first is to fill out the short screening application with the basics of your idea. It should take you about an hour. CalSEED then invites those that pass its first review to make a submit a full application for the second stage. That application may take 3-10 hours to fill out. It is a serious deal. Those applications need to be submitted between March 10 and 28.
4. About 28 applications will be awarded the $150K grants. Typically, 200-300 applications are initially submitted, and less than half are invited to the second round.
5. Getting an award opens the door to a whole lot of other resources—participation in the CleanTech Open, access to expert mentors, training classes, and showcase events. The benefits are greater than just the dollar-value of the award.
6. A key question on the application is how your innovation could advance energy equity and social impact. This is a tough question for most applicants to answer, but it is worth significant points in the scoring of the applications. CalSEED is offering help from the Greenlining Institute to define what could be included in an application to address these concerns. See page 30 in the full Application Manual for a description on what needs to be submitted.
If you want to give CalSEED a try, we urge you to reach out to us and schedule a session during our office hours to let us give you some advice to improve your chances. We have been doing this for the last 3 Cohorts and it is working well.
Written by Gary Simon, CleanStart Chairman