MassCEC's Catalyst Program provides grants of up to $65,000 to researchers and early-stage companies looking to demonstrate initial prototypes of their clean energy technologies. 

This program is CLOSED.

ATTENTION APPLICANTS - We do not anticipate COVID-19 impacting the dates of the Catalyst Program Schedule, but we will be in touch if so. We currently anticipate the following:

Applications Due No Change
Applicants Notified of Status No Change
Pitch Coaching Virtual
Pitch Day Presentations Potentially Virtual

 

Eligible applicants must be either a principal Investigator (“PI”) at a Massachusetts-based nonprofit research institution or a Massachusetts-based early stage clean energy company with no more than $1 million in combined financing, grant funding and revenues within the past 5 years and have four or fewer full-time equivalent employees. Student teams with a faculty member or researcher who will act as the PI and will be responsible for the management of the grant and institution’s reporting requirement are also eligible to apply. 

This program is currently CLOSED.

Key Dates and Proposal Support for the Spring 2020 Round (Proposals submitted 3.16.20):

January 27, 2020 Application Period Opens
February 11, 2020 Quarterly Funding Opportunities Webinar - Recording Here
February 17, 2020 Deadline to submit questions
February 20, 2020 MassCEC to post responses to questions
March 16, 2020 Proposals due
April 13, 2020 Applicants notified of finalist status
Week of May 10, 2020 Finalists' Presentations
June 2020 Finalists Notified of Awardee Status

 

The Catalyst Program is jointly administered by MassCEC and the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) with the primary intent of stimulating the commercialization of clean energy technologies developed in the Commonwealth. Awarded funds are used to demonstrate the feasibility of technologies in specific industry applications in order to obtain increased industry and investor interest. Recipients must use funding for projects that move their technologies towards commercialization.  This includes gathering initial data to demonstrate proof of concept, how the technology compares to existing technologies and competitive advantages of the technology or to develop a prototype for the technology.

Key Goals:

Advance innovation: Provide early-stage, clean energy researchers and startup companies with grant awards and business mentoring to transform new discoveries from the research stage into commercially viable technologies.

Recent Awardees:

 

Round 20 Awardees (Fall 2019)

Project

Project Location

 

Gencores LLC

Light-Weight Core Materials for Light-Duty Vehicles

Cambridge

Gridtwin Energy

Software for Renewables Interconnection

Cambridge

Multiscale Systems Inc.

Light-Weight Material for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Worcester

Northeastern University

Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Structures

Boston

Verdox Inc.

Carbon Capture Battery

Winchester

Flux Marine Ltd.

Electric Marine Propulsion

Boston

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Energy Efficient Membranes for Industrial Applications

Cambridge

Round 19 Awardees (Spring 2019)

 

 

Heat Pump Control Co.

Smart Control for Heat Pump Applications

Northborough

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ultra-clear and Insulating Aerogel for Energy Efficient Windows

Cambridge

Techstyle Materials, Inc.

Development of a Multifunctional Material Coating Prototype

Somerville

Transport Phenomena

Compliant Vapor Chamber to Enable High-Temperature Coolant in Data Centers

Boston

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Enzymatic Self-Healing Concrete

Worcester

MA Maritime Academy

Numerical and Experimental Research on Mooring Systems for Offshore Wind

Buzzards Bay

Pioneer Valley Coral & Natural Science Institute

Feasibility Study of Advanced Wastewater Treatment via Wireless Electrodes

Amherst

 

Since the program began, Catalyst has awarded over $5.8 million to 114 projects that have gone on to raise more than $205 million in follow-on funding and resulted in 112 new pieces of intellectual property applications (IP). One out of every 4 university awardees has created a new company.

Q&A from Catalyst Virtual Office Hours and Quarterly Funding Opportunities Webinar

  • Q: When is the next solicitation?
    • A: The next Catalyst solicitation is scheduled for Fall 2020 and will be announced in August/September.
  • Q: What qualifies as a Massachusetts based company?
    • A: Please refer to Section V. Eligibility of the RFP for complete eligibility requirements. The lead applicant that will be contracting with MassCEC must be based in Massachusetts, with a majority of its business operations in Massachusetts; whether that be an office, headquarters, incubator space, lab space, manufacturing, or sales and marketing. The applicant may have partners outside of Massachusetts, but the lead applicant and its associated operations must be within Massachusetts.
  • Q: Does the target market or technology application have to be local to Massachusetts? For instance, can the target market be mining in another country?
    • A: We do not have a requirement on where the clean technology is applied. The mining industry is not considered an ineligible market, to the extent that the project effectively reduces carbon emissions (which is one of the main focuses of the Catalyst program). See Section I. Summary for a full description.
  • Q: Can the award be used for IP/filing costs and patents or International travel?
    • A: Please refer to Section IX. Budget for specific eligibility on the use of funds. The award is strongly encouraged to be used for project development. Travel is an eligible budget item, so long as it is reasonable and justified compared to the project development costs.
  • Q: What are the dates for the summer session of the Internship program?
    • A: The summer session’s first date for enrollment is 2/24 and operates on a first-come-first-serve basis. If interested, it is encouraged that applications are submitted as soon as possible to ensure availability. Once hired, interns can work from 5/15 - 8/31. Please visit the website for details.
  • Q: Regarding the letters of support, what is more valuable/critical to have support from: customers, partners, or investors?
    • A: All of those can be helpful depending on the stage the product development and what makes the most sense in that industry. Ultimately, letters that speak strongly to the value proposition of the product are most compelling.
  • Q: Are expenditures on capital equipment acceptable under the grant? If so, is capital equipment purchased under the grant owned by the MassCEC at the end of the project or is it owned by the company? Or does MassCEC prefer to not have grant funding spent on equipment?
    • A: Please refer to Section IX. Budget for specific eligibility on the use of funds. Capital equipment expenditures are acceptable, as long as they (like all proposed budget items) are justified in the overall project development and reasonable in comparison to the rest of the proposed budget. Additionally, please refer to Attachment 2: Sample Agreement in the RFP for the terms and conditions of the grant.
  • Q: Is biofuel production considered relevant for the ‘clean transportation’ focus area?”
    • A: All non-fossil fuel transportation fuels are considered relevant if the development of the technology has a targeted end-use of the transportation sector.
  • Q: Is there a typical scope in Catalyst that is preferable for software companies to submit? Such as building software infrastructure, building out an algorithm or a user interface, etc.?
    • A: There isn’t a typical or preferable scope for software or hardware projects. MassCEC has received and awarded software proposals in the past. It is important for all projects to describe the problem the product is solving, and to explain how it is disruptive and innovative. MassCEC does not expect to see specific code for software proposals, but it would be helpful to describe why the software is important, explain current market analysis, compare the software against competitors, and outline important commercialization steps. Additionally, it is important to draw the line to clean energy impact of the proposed software application.
  • Q: How quickly after the announcement of Catalyst winners can projects start?
    • If awarded, projects can start as soon as contracting is complete. Contracting typically takes 4-6 weeks from the time of award.
  • Q: How quickly after the announcement could invoices associated with Milestone 1 be submitted?
    • If awarded, the funding will be released in three installments. Grantees are typically eligible to invoice for the first installment after contract execution.
  • Q: Can a company apply more than once to the Catalyst Program?
    • See Section V. Eligibility of the RFP for applicant eligibility details.  “Applicants may not submit Program applications for the same idea or concept more than three (3) times, unless there has been a substantial change in the technology or market which advances the case for an award.”

FAQs:

  1. Can organizations outside of Massachusetts apply with their technologies?
    • The applicant may have partners outside of Massachusetts, however the entity that will be contracting with MassCEC must be based in Massachusetts, whether at a research institution or small business or company.
  2. Would you be able to help provide connections with potential customers to receive product feedback before writing the grant application?
    • Our ultimate goal is to facilitate clean energy and clean energy partnerships within the state, while we cannot ensure the level of feedback you may receive, you may send inquiries to companycatalyst@masscec.com and we will do our best to make those connections.
  3. What is the typical duration of the Catalyst program?
  4. If I am studying at an out-of-state institution, but I’m an MA resident, am I eligible to apply? Or, if I’m studying at an out-of-state institution, but my start-up has founders that are MA residents, can we apply?
    • All companies and research institutions must be MA-based for the Catalyst Program. If you were going to start a company in MA and license the technology from an institution outside of MA, that would be acceptable. The award contract needs to be with a MA entity – either MA company or MA research institution. The address of the company matters, but your address of residency does not.
  5. Do solar applications count as clean energy?
    • Yes, but we want to see projects that are going to reduce emissions compared to business as usual. For example, if your proposal is along the lines of putting solar panels in a place where in the people were not previously able to access electricity, then that is not necessarily a compelling emissions reduction case--- because these types of projects do not avoid GHG emissions that otherwise would be released. A strong applicant demonstrates emission reductions compared to business as usual.
  6. What level of confidential information should I share with MassCEC?
    • MassCEC and MTTC are public agencies subject to public records laws. If we receive a public record request, we are obligated to share anything we have received via email or have on file. In general, we do not enter into non-disclosure agreements. Applicants should do their best to explain their technology as clearly as possible so that we understand the full scale of technical merit each proposal entails but should refrain from sending us confidential or proprietary information. 
  7. Does the title page count towards the page limit for the application?
    • No, the first page does not count. The proposal text should not extend 11 pages and the attachments should not exceed 5 pages.
  8. Is it possible for someone at MassCEC to review my application prior to the due date?
    • No. In order to maintain a fair program process, we cannot allow any applications prior to the due date. If you have a specific question we are more than happy to talk to you about it via email or at our Catalyst Program office hours (see “How Do I Apply” section on our website).
  9. Can two groups submit an application together? Do all partners need to be based in MA?
    • We encourage partnerships and collaborations and not all partners/team members need to be based in MA. However, the primary applicant does need to be MA-based. You also still need to follow all of the other program guidelines. For example, companies need to have less than 4 members on the team and would still have to have less than an acquired $1 million in financing and revenues.
  10. Does all the grant money have to be spent within the state of MA?
    • No, although that is our preference. All checks have to be sent out to a MA-based entity.  But it is acceptable to have a special testing or manufacturing center that is outside of MA or outside of the country.
  11. Can I submit an application for the same project under multiple MassCEC programs (i.e. Catalyst and Amplify)?
    • Yes, you are welcome to submit the same project to multiple MassCEC programs as long as that project is eligible for each of those programs. However, it’s very rare for MassCEC to give multiple grants to the same entity concurrently. Indicate which one is your preference otherwise it is up to us to decide what we think is the best fit.
  12. Do applicants need to submit "Attachment 1: Authorized Applicant's Signature and Acceptance Form" with the proposal and, if so, does it count against the 16 page limit?
    1. Yes, applicants do need to submit the Authorized Applicant's Signature Form.  And no, it does not count against the 16 page limit.