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 and water technologies. 

This program is CLOSED.

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.

Fall 2019 Catalyst Solicitation

Fall 2019 Catalyst Proposal Template

Catalyst Program One-Pager

Key Dates and Proposal Support:

August 19, 2019 Application Period Opens
September 9, 2019 Deadline to submit questions
September 12, 2019 MassCEC to post responses to questions
October 8, 2019 Proposals due
November 11, 2019 Applicants notified of finalist status
December 10, 2019 Finalists' Presentations for Clean Tech Applicants
December 12, 2019 Finalists' Presentations for Water Applicants
January 2020 Finalists Notified of Awardee Status

The application period opens on August 19, 2019, and proposals are due on October 8, 2019 before 4:00pm EST. Finalists will be invited to pitch their idea in December 2019, and winners will be notified in January 2020.

MassCEC held a webinar on August 29 about the Catalyst Program and the AmplifyMass program. Click here for a YouTube recording of the webinar and here for a pdf version of the slides presented.

Applicants may submit questions to Catalyst Program Staff at companycatalyst@masscec.com. Staff will post questions and their respective answers on this website on September 12, 2019.

MassCEC will also host office hours to answer any questions applicants may have at the following dates and locations:

Location

 

Date

Time

Address

Worcester Clean Tech Incubator (WCTI)

Wednesday

September 4

11:00 am - 12:30 pm

44 Portland St, Worcester, MA 01608

Greentown Labs

Thursday

September 12

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

444 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Wednesday

September 18

11:00 am - 1:00 pm

151 Martine St, Fall River, MA 02723

CIC Venture Cafe

Thursday

September 19

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

One Broadway, 5th floor, Cambridge, MA 02142

 

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 and water innovation 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.

Since the program began, Catalyst has awarded over $5 million to 107 projects that have gone on to raise more than $155 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.

MassCEC held a webinar on August 29 to give a general overview of the Catalyst Program and answer questions. Click here for a YouTube recording of the webinar and here for a pdf version of the slides presented.

  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.  

Questions submitted during 2019 Quarterly Funding Opportunities Update

Are projects that are already in progress eligible to apply?

  • Yes, BUT for applications that will also be receiving project funding from another prime award entity, MassCEC can only consider applications that have been submitted before beginning the contracting process with their prime award entity.

Do applicants need to be based in Massachusetts before applying to MassCEC programs?

  • Not necessarily, but we can only award projects based in Massachusetts. Satellite offices located in MA do not fulfill this requirement.

How do I know if my project qualifies as a clean energy technology?

  • MassCEC is bound by the state’s legislature’s definition of clean energy as stated below:
    1. “Clean Energy Companies” are considered to be companies that have “...advanced and applied technologies that significantly reduce or eliminate the use of energy from non-renewable sources, including, but not limited to: energy efficiency; demand response; energy conservation and those technologies powered in whole or in part by the sun, wind, water, biomass, alcohol, wood, fuel cells, any renewable, non-depletable or recyclable fuel...” MassCEC, Chapter 23J, Section 1 of the General Laws of Massachusetts.

Is a commercial or industrial partner required as a part of a Catalyst proposal?

  • No, but if you do have partners, it will certainly strengthen your application.

Do grant awards have to be spent in the state of Massachusetts?

  • No, we understand that companies will likely need to purchase goods or services outside of Massachusetts.

Can MassCEC staff review an application before submission?

  • We can review your application for completion, but we cannot give you an indication of how likely you are to be accepted.

Is it possible to submit a proposal for the same project over multiple grant opportunities? (for example, applying to both AmplifyMass and the Catalyst program?

  • Yes, it’s possible, but we generally will not award a company two grants at the same time. If one application is submitted under two grant opportunities, MassCEC will likely give direction as to which program better fits the project.

What level of confidential information should I share with MassCEC?

  • Since MassCEC is subject to public records requests, we recommend not sharing any confidential information with us. While we do need to audit and understand your technology enough to review it, please refrain from sharing confidential information.

Is it possible for multiple entities to submit one application together? If so, do they all need to be based in Massachusetts?

  • We often have teams applying as one application, and only the lead applicant must be based in Massachusetts.

Why must applications have a commercialization plan, as opposed to being open-source?

  • While MassCEC is providing a grant and does not have a direct financial interest, the goal of this grant is to promote technologies that will scale to widespread adoption.

Does the cap of $1 million in company financing to date include convertible notes?

  • Yes, it includes convertible notes.

Do you allow applications from PhD or Post-Doctoral students at universities?

  • Applications must be under the auspices of the university and the lead applicant must be the PI of the lab or office in which the proposed project will happen.

How do you maintain confidentiality of past proposals?

  • Please refer to the Notice of Public Disclosure under Section XI of the RFP. Generally, MassCEC does not maintain confidentiality of past proposals.

 

Round 18 Awardees (Fall 2018)

Project

Energy - Water Nexus

Project Location

Camberline Technologies

Real-time electricity metering

 

Cambridge

Cambridge Crops, Inc.

Edible silk food preservation coating

 

Somerville

Exact Lux, Inc.

Efficient lighting technology for indoor horticulture

 

Somerville

INRoof Solar

Integrated solar heating for air conditioning efficiency

 

Amesbury

Northeastern University

Efficient platinum-group metal free catalysts

 

Boston

Onvector LLC

Oxidation process for treating industrial wastewater

Somerville

Transaera, Inc

Moisture management system for indoor farms

Somerville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 17 Awardees (Spring 2018)

Project

Energy - Water Nexus

Project Location

Metal Mark, Inc

Low cost, high durability catalyst materials for industrial processes

 

Allston

Medley Thermal

Dynamic electrification system for industrial steam users

 

Cambridge

Onboard Data, Inc

Software for building energy management to improve energy performance

 

Cambridge

Titan Advanced Energy Solutions, Inc

Low cost device to efficiently measure the health of electric vehicle batteries

 

Cambridge

UMass Dartmouth

Desulfurization of biogas for clean fuel and power generation

 

Fall River

WatchTower Robotics

In-pipe, traveling sensor to detect municipal water leaks

Cambridge

ZwitterCo

Membrane technology to reduce energy consumption of water purification.

Cambridge