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 currently CLOSED.

ATTENTION APPLICANTS TO FALL 2020 ROUND - 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:

Deadline to Submit Questions September 30, 2020
MassCEC to Post Responses to Questions October 2, 2020
Proposals Due October 19, 2020
Applicants Notified of Finalist Status November 20, 2020
Finalists' Presentations Week of December 14, 2020
Finalists Notified of Award Status January 2021


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.

For full program details, please refer to:

The Fall 2020 Catalyst RFP

For applicants that have already applied to the Fall 2020 Catalyst round, please refer to the following key dates:

Catalyst Office Hours  September 22, 2020

Catalyst & AmplifyMass Informational Webinar -

View the webinar here.

September 29, 2020
Deadline to Submit Questions September 30, 2020
MassCEC to Post Responses to Questions October 2, 2020
Proposals Due October 19, 2020 by 11:59 PM EST
Applicants Notified of Finalist Status November 20, 2020
Finalists' Presentations Week of December 14, 2020
Finalists Notified of Award Status January 2021

For any questions, please email

The Catalyst Program is jointly administered by MassCEC and MassVentures 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 Location


Gencores LLC

Light-Weight Core Materials for Light-Duty Vehicles


Gridtwin Energy

Software for Renewables Interconnection


Multiscale Systems Inc.

Light-Weight Material for Heavy-Duty Vehicles


Northeastern University

Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Structures


Verdox Inc.

Carbon Capture Battery


Flux Marine Ltd.

Electric Marine Propulsion


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Energy Efficient Membranes for Industrial Applications


Round 19 Awardees (Spring 2019)



Heat Pump Control Co.

Smart Control for Heat Pump Applications


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ultra-clear and Insulating Aerogel for Energy Efficient Windows


Techstyle Materials, Inc.

Development of a Multifunctional Material Coating Prototype


Transport Phenomena

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


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Enzymatic Self-Healing Concrete


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



Since the program began, Catalyst has awarded over $6.3 million to 124 projects that have gone on to raise more than $244 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.

For additional information on the program, program staff hosted an informational webinar on Catalyst on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. View the webinar here.

Responses to Fall 2020 questions submitted by September 30, 2020:

The RFP asks about specific market size information. How specific should this information be in this proposal? Have previous submissions completed a thorough market analysis?

In general, be as specific as you can. Applicants should demonstrate that they have a realistic understanding of the target market. The depth of this market analysis varies by applicant. Oftentimes, people will undergo a more thorough market analysis under the Catalyst program in parallel with their prototype development, and Mass is happy to support those endeavors under the grant, should you be awarded.                                                                                                                 


If an applicant already has a product that is out there in a customer segment, and is now hoping to adapt and redesign the product to go into a different customer segment, would the applicant be eligible?

This is eligible. Please include an explanation of the status of the existing product and the need for the redesign. Prove the value and the need for the redesign as a standalone market and product.


How should applicants quantify carbon reductions in the proposal?

Applicants are encouraged to use tools such as the CRANE tool, or other credible public data sources such as the United States Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Inventory (especially for greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide), the EPA's Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator, and others. Internally at MassCEC, we do not use one specific tool to verify each person’s claims, we look at the proposal as a whole and look at the sources that the applicant used to generate their calculations.


Will MassCEC make awards according to the best ideas or the geography of the applicant pool?

MassCEC will look at the cohort as a whole and award the strongest proposals. The internal and external judges will provide scores and comments to MassCEC to assist in this determination.


How many candidates are selected?

MassCEC typically receives 25-35 proposals per round. Up to 14 of those are invited to pitch as finalists, and then up to 7 will be selected for an award.


How precise does the budget estimation need to be knowing that there are sometimes significant unknowns?

It is advised that applicants do their best to provide an accurate estimation at the time of the proposal. If selected and the budget has changed, that can be discussed during contracting.


Do we need letters of support from customers and investors?

It is not a requirement, if you submit without letters of support you are not considered ineligible. However, it is only going to bolster your proposal to have those letters of support. If you are working with a partner, a letter form that partner in your proposal would validate that the partner is supportive.


Can Catalyst be used as a part of a research project? Or does it have to be a commercial product?

This is a prototyping program, the goal of this program is to result in a prototype, whether that’s an alpha or beta. We do understand that research often accompanies the development of that prototype, however projects resulting in only a white paper will not be as competitive.


When will we know if we are awarded with Catalyst?

Applicants are notified of finalist status by November 20th. If selected as a finalist, pitches will be the week of December 14th. Grantees will be notified in January of 2021.


General 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 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 MassVentures 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.