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New Energy Commission Program Provides $24 Million in Grants for Early Stage Clean Energy Projects

  |   Startup

One of California’s most significant funding opportunities supporting early stage clean energy entrepreneurs will launch Jan. 16 thanks to funding from the California Energy Commission.


The California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) initiative will provide $24 million in grants over five years to support innovators working on very early stage clean energy concepts. Awardees can receive up to $150,000 for proof of concept activities. The awardees will also have an opportunity to pitch at a business plan competition for an additional $450,000 in follow-on funding to continue demonstrating the potential merits of their technology.


“This initiative will help entrepreneurs move their projects from an idea to the marketplace,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller, “thereby helping to advance California’s transition to a clean energy future.”


The CalSEED program is managed by the California Clean Energy Fund, a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in early stage and startup companies.


“This level of funding is not typically available for pre-prototype or pre-revenue ideas,” said Deepa Lounsbury, CalSEED program manager. “By filling this critical gap and providing access to unprecedented professional development resources, we believe the program will help catalyze a new era of clean energy technologies.”


The program brings together entrepreneurial training organizations, nonprofits, companies, universities, and an ecosystem of clean energy incubators who will provide technical expertise, mentoring, networking, and business development support to applicants receiving funding. Cleantech San Diego and the San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Cluster are partners in the program.


New energy technologies require millions of dollars to reach commercialization. CalSEED is a first step that will position entrepreneurs to demonstrate the potential merits of their technology. Furthermore, CalSEED’s network of professional development resources will prepare the entrepreneurs to identify the message and selling points of their technology in order to attract future private investment.


The Energy Commission is committed to increasing diversity in the energy sector and encourages applications from woman-owned, minority-owned and small businesses; from underserved, low-income, veteran, rural, and LGBTQ communities; and from entrepreneurs developing energy solutions that benefit under-represented communities.


CalSEED funding comes from the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program, which invests about $120 million annually for innovative clean energy technologies and approaches and that benefit the ratepayers of California’s three largest electric investor-owned utilities.


For more information or to apply, visit calseed.fund. The application period opens Jan. 16.


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