Under a new, competitive program – InnovateMass - the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will provide awards up to $150,000 to applicant teams that offer the most innovative, cost effective, and impactful clean energy solutions to tough energy and environmental challenges here in the Commonwealth. We’re not simply looking for one-off solutions to these problems. We’re looking for teams that can prove out new technologies, or combine existing technologies in clean energy demonstration projects that are scalable, have strong commercialization potential, and create jobs here in Massachusetts while reducing energy use and environmental impacts.
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Why are we interested in supporting the development of clean energy demonstration projects? Because years of experience and dialogue with the rich clean energy industry here in Massachusetts has shown that among the many barriers emerging companies face is access to capital to fund demonstration projects. If companies, entrepreneurs, and the innovation eco-system can’t fund and prove promising technologies, their growth is hindered. But if we can help innovators demonstrate their technology, they have the potential to create new products, new services, and even entirely new markets for growth.
We’ve identified a number of energy challenges in consultation with a wide array of business, government, and energy industry leaders including: the need for more efficient trucks and shuttle buses to serve our regional transit authorities, school districts, small businesses, and large institutions; energy storage technologies that optimize the use of renewable energy sources, while improving electric grid power quality and reliability; advanced wastewater treatment technologies that produce energy while reducing harmful environmental impacts.
Some parties pursuing the InnovateMass funding opportunity interested in identifying technology, demonstration site, or other strategic partners have approached MassCEC seeking our advice. While we cannot directly facilitate applicant team formation, we have created an online demonstration project matchmaking tool to help applicants identify additional team members. Learn more, submit your information, or browse for potential matches on the Demonstration Project Matchmaking Tool page.
Cleantech Innovations New England (CINE) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with MassCEC, have developed an additional service award of up to $130,000 to complement MassCEC’s $1M InnovateMass demonstration program. The EPA has identified a pressing, regional water challenge that may be addressed with innovative and commercially viable solutions. This challenge seeks technologies that offer long-term, resilient and market-based solutions to the problem of nutrient pollution caused by insufficient residential scale wastewater treatment in coastal areas. Water innovation companies and related entities that intend to apply for the Water Challenge Service Award must first apply for the InnovateMass RFP Concept Paper Solicitation.
The RFP for Concept Paper Applications is now open and available for download at the following link.
Demonstration Project Pilot Program RFP: Questions & Answers
Can an applicant team count in-kind match from a state university towards its match obligation? Can an applicant team count salaries paid to state university staff carrying out work directly related to the project, including lab work and analysis, towards its match obligation?
Yes. Applicant teams may count cash cost share from a state university or other state entity toward its match obligation provided the state entity maintains a substantial role in the demonstration project. In addition, staff from that state entity must be part of the application team.
Should staff time be categorized as ‘in-kind’ or ‘cash’?
It should be categorized as ‘in-kind.’
Can universities include the indirect reimbursement – the standard costs charged to outside partners that represent a percentage of keeping the university running – in the budget?
Administrative expenses are not allowable budget items. However, if this is a fee that would normally be charged by the university to carry out work, it can be included as part of the cost share as unrecovered indirect.
How does MassCEC want the cost of in-kind expenses documented?
During the concept paper stage, it is enough to state the amount in the budget, although applicants can attach further documentation if they wish. Awardees will receive full details about documents required for invoice submittal at time of award.
Can existing equipment, inventory, facilities or land count toward the cost share?
If a fee would normally be charged for equipment use, then that would count as cost share. Additionally, applicants may count an appropriately pro-rated portion of the cost of an existing piece of equipment if it is integral to the demonstration project. The key distinction here is deployed vs. used. If the equipment/inventory in question is the product/equipment that is being demonstrated, it can be counted – 100 percent - toward cost share. If the equipment is being used to develop or design the demonstration product, it can be counted on a pro-rated basis, toward the cost share. Furthermore, if a company is leasing or renting land or equipment that belongs to someone else for the purpose of the project, then that is clearly project-specific and cost share-eligible.
With regard to indirect costs, the table indicates that no overhead or administrative costs are allowed as grant funds or cost share. Please confirm that labor rates can include fringe.
Labor rates can include fringe. Overhead includes items like electricity bills, rent or salaries for staff not directly related to the project (accounting staff, etc).
Can you provide examples of non-cash cost share that you believe will qualify? We ask this particularly because of the restrictions on indirect costs and the value of pre-existing facilities and equipment.
Acceptable non-cash cost share may include:
With regard to the match, and the min. 20 percent cash component, can an applicant count a discount that their partner manufacturer/supplier offers on their equipment?
Yes, if the applicant can convincingly demonstrate that the claimed discount on project-relevant equipment/material represents a legitimate reduction beneath the normal retail cost of said equipment.
Can legal fees count toward the cost share?
Yes, if legal services are directly related to the demonstration project.
Can an applicant team spend funds after an award notification has been made, but prior to receiving funds?
At your own risk and not before the award notification has been made.
Can you address project ownership generally, after the demonstration project performance period has ended? Will the MassCEC own a portion of the demonstration project after the performance period?
Demonstration project ownership details are to be negotiated between the technology provider and the demonstration project host. MassCEC will have no ownership rights in funded demonstration projects.
Should applicants provide confidential information to the MassCEC as part of the Concept Paper application process?
We don’t anticipate that applicants would need to disclose IP/confidential technology information during the Concept Paper application phase. However, if an applicant opts to do so, we highly recommend that the applicant utilize the Notice of Confidentiality Cover Letter that contains instructions for how to claim confidential treatment of sensitive information.
If a proposed demonstration project seeking an InnovateMass award is also pursuing funding from another MassCEC funding source (e.g. Commonwealth Solar; Commonwealth Wind; Investment in Job Creation, etc.), will the application be viewed more or less favorably?
Applicants are encouraged to pursue as many MassCEC funding programs for which they are eligible.
Labor costs for the prime are not allowed other than as cost share. However, subcontractor costs are allowable. Does this mean that the subcontractor can include labor costs as billable expenses?
Does a demonstration project that involves smart meter and data analysis fall within scope of the InnovateMass program?
Yes, a unique approach to data analytics to support better deployment of clean energy/energy efficiency is eligible.
Can a pilot project remain in place beyond one year with site owner/operator agreement?
Yes, demonstration projects may operate beyond one year as long as deliverables are met and project performance metrics can be obtained.
The current work plan schedule requires projects to begin by June 30, 2013. This is not reasonable in the event that a proposed project requires federal permitting; e.g. FERC hydropower. How should this limitation be addressed in the proposed schedule?
A. We understand that some demonstration projects may require greater flexibility with regard to the required launch date. Applicant teams should simply describe the anticipated regulatory, logistical or other relevant challenges and propose an appropriate project launch date.
The concept paper evaluation criteria are fairly detailed for 3-5 pages. Might you consider a reduced list for the concept paper, or suggest ones you want primary focus on?
Rather than prioritizing evaluation criteria, we encourage applicant teams to emphasize those criteria that are most relevant and meaningful to their demonstration project, to be expansive where necessary and economical where possible.
How do we contact companies on the matchmaking list?
If you click on the company name in the matchmaking list, you will be able to email that company’s representative directly.
Does the project have to be located in Massachusetts?
At least one application team organization must be located in Massachusetts. There is no requirement that the demonstration project site be in Massachusetts; however, applications will be judged on the project’s projected benefits, both environmental and economic, to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (see page 7 of the RFP for more information on these judging criteria). A primary goal of the RFP is to create collaborations among diverse entities here in Massachusetts, which includes bringing out-of-state or foreign companies into Massachusetts to demonstrate a technology and develop business here in the Commonwealth. At the same time, we are committed to tackling persistent Massachusetts energy problems. We could imagine there are circumstances where the ideal project location is in a neighboring state, or in another state with a unique site or resource, but the commercial technology would directly solve a Massachusetts energy problem. Thus, the project could be located outside Massachusetts, but it would have to satisfy all of the evaluation criteria both as described above and in the RFP.
The RFP states: “A cash cost share may not be contributed by another federal or state government entity” and “Eligible entities include public and private entities, e.g. clean energy companies, research and development institutions, academic institutions, state and local government and quasi-government agencies and school districts and nonprofits.”
We are looking for applicant teams that are proposing to deploy new technologies entirely, existing technologies in substantially new applications, new combinations of existing technologies, or deployment of new or existing technologies with new financing or service delivery models. We are not interested in supporting customer acquisition or deployment of existing technology to new customers. If what you’re proposing has been done before, and your applicant team is simply proposing to do it again in a new location, we will probably not support such an application.
Will there be a webinar to discuss the Program?
MassCEC conducted a webinar to discuss the Program. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.
Some applicants have asked that we make the budget section of the RPF available in Excel spreadsheet, rather than a PDF.
The budget template is available as an Excel file here.
We only require one signature from each applicant team member (company, organization, etc.).
We would prefer if applicant teams were completely formed by the Concept Paper RFP stage. However, we would consider applicant team changes, and welcome team member additions, during the Full Proposal evaluation stage.