How do I know if my technology qualifies as cleantech under this program?
For the purposes of this program, “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...” Definition based on enabling legislation for MassCEC, Chapter 23J, Section 1 of the General Laws of Massachusetts (https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleII/Chapter23J/Sect...).
How will I know if my technology will be considered to fall within one of the four priority areas?
Applicants are encouraged to use best judgement when determining if the proposed technology falls within one of the four priority areas. Applicants are encouraged to use pillar area justification in the application materials. Please contact MassCEC with questions. MassCEC will determine if applications and projects are eligible, based on the terms outlined in the RFP.
What qualifies as a Massachusetts based company?
Please refer to section IV. Eligibility of the RFP for complete eligibility requirements. To qualify as a Massachusetts based company, the company must have a majority of its business operations in Massachusetts; whether that be an office, headquarters, incubator space, lab space, manufacturing, or sales and marketing.
What expenditures may the proposed InnovateMass budget be used for?
It is MassCEC’s policy not to compensate for general administration, overhead, or general-purpose expenses including general purpose materials or facilities. Budget items must be:
Uniquely associated with the proposed project
Justified as to why it is a necessary and reasonable part of the project
Incurred after the execution of a grant agreement with MassCEC
All budget items generally fall into one of three categories: 1) eligible cash expenses; 2) eligible cost share expenses; or 3) other budget items ineligible for grant funding or cost share. It must be clear why each budget item is necessary for the project.
Please refer to the “Eligible Budget Items” section of the RFP to see a list of expenses that may be included in the InnovateMass project budget.
Is salary factored into cost-share?
Yes – direct labor on the project is an eligible cost share expense. Please note that cost share may only be up to 80% in-kind.
Are software proposals eligible?
Software proposals are eligible but should endeavor to highlight the novel innovation at the core of the proposed technology.
May entities submit more than one Application and be part of more than one Applicant Team?
Yes, Applicant’s may submit multiple applications and participate in multiple Applicant Teams.
If I’ve applied in the past, but was not awarded, may I re-use the same letters of intent from my project partners?
Yes, if the letters are still applicable with any changes you’ve made in your application and if the relationship is still active. The letters should demonstrate an active relationship and cooperation with critical partners, which will last at least the duration of the proposed project. To this end current letters are preferred, as it indicates that the cooperating parties are still in the relevant positions and the relationship is ongoing.
How many letters of support does a typical applicant have?
On average, the typical applicant provides 1 to 3 letters of support. These are typically from partners directly related to the proposed InnovateMass project, such as a demonstration site or manufacturing partner.
What role does the 3rd party technical support from MassCEC play?
The InnovateMass Technical Assistant (TA) supports awardees through all phases of the project, from workplan development through the final report. They act as the day-to-day project managers representing MassCEC. MassCEC meets with the TA on a monthly basis to get a project status update on each awardee.
Is there a tenure requirement for a Massachusetts-based company?
No, there is no tenure requirement as far as the length of the company’s existence in Massachusetts. It is necessary for the company to be located in Massachusetts to be eligible for InnovateMass, but it does not matter how long the company has been located in the state.
Is buying materials considered a cash contribution?
Yes, materials purchased by grantees are considered cash contributions.
Would a state university qualify as a Massachusetts publicly owned facility?
Yes, if it is a public university or public college, then it would be considered a Public Benefit Site.
Could you go into more depth about building level energy usage?
Building level energy usage is anything that directly decreases the emissions associated with the primary activities in residential or commercial buildings. It could be anything that would decrease the emissions of the building and the energy usage within that building. Net-zero grid, on the other hand, is anything associated with activity that moves electricity back and forth between generators and end users.
Does a project have to wait for notice of award before beginning the project or is it still eligible for the award if it is in-process while the proposal is being reviewed?
If applying for funding, the proposed project that has been submitted for an InnovateMass grant should not have started.
If a company has won an InnovateMass grant previously, are they eligible to apply again?
It is unlikely that they will be eligible, but it depends. Please reach out to MassCEC to discuss eligibility if the company now has a new product, or a new application of an existing product, and there is a need to demonstrate again. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the company would be eligible for another InnovateMass grant.
For an applicant interested in demonstrating their technology with a public interest site, how would you recommend they go about finding these sites or reaching out to potential sites or organizations?
The applicant is welcome to use their own methods of cold calling research or outreach, but there is also a MassCEC slack channel for this specific purpose.
Does InnovateMass prioritize any specific type of demonstration site?
The InnovateMass grant does not prioritize demonstration sites.
The InnovateMass application window is rolling and ends December 31st, 2020, will the program open again in 2021?
MassCEC hopes to be able to keep the program open beyond December, but it is not yet determined. We will communicate on our webpage if there is a chance that funding will run out before December 31st, otherwise the program will continue until at least the end of this year.
In terms of planning for applicant teams, is there a timing estimate of the quarterly pitch dates or will they evolve as the application period progresses?
There is an expected schedule on the InnovateMass webpage. The schedule depends on when the applications are submitted, but we will try to adhere to the expected schedule.
Do projects designed for indirect support of some of the pillars mentioned, like EV charging from renewable sources, count as contributing to one of the four pillars discussed?
Yes, that example would be considered to fall under the clean transportation priority area, and the applicant should make that connection clear in the application materials. As a general guideline for applicants, if you are not sure if the project falls in a priority area, the best way to figure that out is to ask MassCEC with a valid and detailed justification prepared. If the applicant can connect their project with the priorities, MassCEC reviewers should be able to make those connections, as well.
Does net-zero grid include renewable energy generation and integration into the grid?
It does, especially if the renewable energy generation is helping the grid, that would absolutely count in that category. Potentially, off-grid applications might not be considered net zero grid.
If an applicant applied and did not make it to the finalist stage, would they receive feedback and have the option of reapplying with a revised application package?
Yes, there is always feedback given and applicants are welcome to reapply up to three times. This is spelled out more in the RFP.
Does a startup need to be formally incorporated somewhere rather than an incubator within another business?
MassCEC does not have requirements over where a company is incorporated.
If a technology is being developed by a university team that has yet to spin out to a startup, can that team submit an application before they are a commercial entity so long as the establishment is made before the award is achieved?
As our RFP states, the lead applicant must be a clean energy company. However, the applicant team can be made up of multiple entities. A university can partner with a clean energy company, but the clean energy company must be the Lead Applicant.
Are there any other parameters around corporate structures for lead applicants?
No, MassCEC does not have any corporate structure requirements. All eligibility criteria for Lead Applicants are outlined in the RFP.
If a manufacturer is outside of the United States but a partnered installer or distributor is based in Massachusetts, who would be the lead applicant?
The lead applicant is the entity that meets the small business definition and is a clean energy company by definition. As long as you are those two things, you would be defined as the lead applicant. To provide additional color, the lead applicant is the one that is primarily responsible for contracting with MassCEC, that is going to receive payments from MassCEC, that is going to drive the project.
Does winning an AmplifyMass or Catalyst award affect eligibility for InnovateMass?
No, it does not affect eligibility. However, we do not typically award two projects to the same entity at the same time.