IncubateMass

MassCEC’s IncubateMass program provides funding to incubators on a competitive basis with the goal of furthering the important role incubators play in catalyzing and supporting clean energy and water innovation startup companies in Massachusetts.
Who's Eligible?

All IncubateMass applicants must be Massachusetts-based incubators capable of providing business incubator services to cleantech or water innovation startups. Applicants should have experienced management teams, a documented track record of providing effective services to cleantech startups and a sustainable incubator model backed up by a credible business plan.  

How Do I Apply?

One-year IncubateMass grants are awarded on a rolling basis. Please see the request for proposal for more information on the program and how to submit a proposal. If you have any questions or concerns please email Katie Dobbins at kdobbins@masscec.com.

Applications for the multi-year grants are currently closed. To be notified when the multi-year application process is re-opened, please sign up for MassCEC’s Clean Energy Business Opportunities email list or check back to this website.

FAQ

While it is required to report paid employees, both full time and part time, what about employees or founders who have been compensated with equity?

If the employee is working for the company in any capacity, even for equity, they must be reported in the employee figures. While overall employee payroll must be reported, the amount of equity being paid to employees does not.

Should applicant responses be formatted as tables like those provided, presented in narrative form, or both?

For Section A, the proposed award distribution, please use the Excel spreadsheet template provided.. There should be two distinct sections: one for Operations and Management (“Incubator Deliverables”), and one for Client Company Milestones. All other areas of the application may be addressed as the applicant chooses.

Questions regarding “Payment of Award”:

  • If awarded an IncubateMass grant, is it reimbursement after execution meaning that the incubator has to find a way to fund necessary resources beforehand?
    • Yes.
  • If the incubator needs to hire someone to add to staff, this is still true?
    • Yes. The goal of this grant is not to supply a regular employee’s compensation, but to supplement other incubator income for particular programs or initiatives. For instance, this grant would not cover a new mentoring coordinator’s salary, but it could cover the expenses of a networking event he or she puts on.
  • Will items for which a quote has been provided be pre-funded based on the quote?
    • No expenses are pre-funded by this grant. The structure of these contracts is such that MassCEC only issues payment upon receipt and confirmation of all deliverables for a given milestone. For instance, payment for infrastructure upgrades must be covered up front by the incubator, and MassCEC will pay the contracted amount for that milestone upon completion of the upgrade.The quotes provided in the proposal inform MassCEC’s understanding of the costs associated with running the facilities and, while they may inform milestone payments set up during contracting, MassCEC will not reimburse the exact price of the equipment, but will pay the contracted milestone payment amount determined at contracting between MassCEC and the incubator.

Please explain the budget breakdown and what this means for the funding level for which we are eligible.

Funds requested may be no more than 20 % of an incubator’s total budget in any given year.

If an incubator has a budget of $100K and receives an additional $20K in funding from IncubateMass, a maximum of only $16K of that $20K from IncubateMass funding could be used for “Incubator Deliverables” such as facility upgrades, support for funding diversification, etc. At least $4K must be tied to Client Company Milestones.

In regard to relationships with entities and partners (ex: universities, institutes, municipalities, etc.) are legal documents (ex: memoranda of understanding, partnership agreements, etc.) required? May partners be other public or even private entities?

Although MOUs and formal agreements are preferred, letters of support would be fine at the point of application. If awarded, an incubator milestone may be to execute a formal partnership to provide XYZ benefits to the incubator and its residents. Partners may be non-university public or private entities as well.

How should an Incubator report data when there is more than one year to show?

Please use the template provided (Excel) to submit all required data on client companies.

Use one tab on the provided template to show what each company’s metrics were in Q3 2014, and a second tab to show the metrics for September 2015.

Data reported should be cumulative from client companies’ entrance to the incubator through the present (please note exit dates, where applicable). For example, when first reporting on a company that has raised $50,000 in grants, under the Grants/Awards column enter “50,000.” When submitting data the following quarter, if the company has since received an additional $5,000 award, under the Grants/Awards section the number you should enter would be “55,000.”

If the incubator is already working with and reporting data to MassCEC, can the incubator use that data in the application for their Q3 2015 reporting?

Yes.

Program Background

MassCEC’s IncubateMass program was established in 2013 in response to the growing number of incubators in Massachusetts and the need for increased development and support of incubation space for cleantech and water innovation startup companies. MassCEC created the IncubateMass program to provide support to incubators that work with clean energy and water innovation startups on a competitive basis, tying funding to performance metrics. 

Startups and small business represent a critical component of the state economy with demonstrable impacts on job creation and accelerating the commercialization of new clean energy technologies across the Commonwealth. The program includes:

  • Grants for operations and management support and acquisition of new equipment and infrastructure
  • Small grants to support the development of incubator managers and staff through memberships in relevant professional organizations and participation in key conferences
  • Sponsorship of events aimed at connecting entrepreneurs to customers, investors and new employees

IncubateMass funding is tied to performance metrics and regular reporting, allowing the program to be transparent in the impacts of funds deployed and encourages the incubators involved to be increasingly strategic and to continually improve how they engage with current and graduate startup companies. 

Since the program’s inception, MassCEC has provided $1.135 million in funding for operations and management support for eligible incubators. To date, seven incubators across the state have participated and benefited from the program:

For more information on clean energy incubators in Massachusetts, please visit our Massachusetts Clean Energy Incubators page. 

Program Contact

Katie Dobbins

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

63 Franklin Street, 3rd Floor

Boston MA, 02110

kdobbins@masscec.com

617-315-9317