The InnovateMass program provides up to $250,000 in grant funding and technical support to applicant teams deploying new clean energy technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies with a strong potential for commercialization. Successful applicants will propose projects that address important energy challenges, help to grow the state’s clean energy economy, and contribute to Massachusetts’ continued clean energy leadership. 

Each round of InnovateMass welcomes applications from across the clean energy technology landscape (including clean energy generation, energy efficiency, energy storage, data for clean energy applications, and other types of technologies as defined in the FAQ section below). In addition, each round of InnovateMass includes a topic-specific Spotlight, which aims to surface innovative ideas that speak to a specific energy challenge. The InnovateMass Spotlight for Round VI-b (Summer 2018) is: Clean Transportation. Details on how to apply to the Spotlight can be found on the InnovateMass under “How Do I Apply?” below.

 

Only technologies that have achieved Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 will be considered eligible for an InnovateMass grant.

Application Teams may comprise both public and private entities, including clean energy companies, research and development institutions, academic institutions, state, local, and quasi-governmental agencies, school districts and nonprofits.

Teams must at least include a technology developer – typically a clean energy company – and a demonstration site/host, with the technology developer designated as the “Lead Applicant” that will contract directly with MassCEC.

The Lead Applicant must be based in Massachusetts. There is no requirement that the demonstration project site be in Massachusetts; however, Applications will be judged on the project’s projected clean energy and economic benefits to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Apply now for funding through InnovateMass here.

To indicate that a project should be considered under the InnovateMass Clean Transportation Spotlight, applicants should check “YES” in the Clean Transportation box on the application form.

As part of the Clean Transportation Spotlight, the MBTA seeks to serve as a host site and project partner with innovative cleantech companies applying to InnovateMass. The MBTA’s areas of interest and directions on how to contact the MBTA with proposed partnerships can be found here.

To stay up to date on the main application process, please sign up for our email updates and select News for Startups.

MassCEC hosted its first Quarterly Funding Opportunities Update Webinar on May 16. View the presentation slides here.
 

MassCEC discussed the InnovateMass program as part of its Quarterly Funding Opportunities Update webinar on May 16. The webinar also featured the NSF’s America’s Seed Fund.

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 do I know if my technology qualifies as cleantech under this program?

For the purposes of this RFP, “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...).

What does it mean to apply under the InnovateMass Spotlight?

InnovateMass Spotlights are designed to surface innovative ideas that speak to specific energy-related challenges. No funding is reserved specifically for Spotlight-relevant applications. MassCEC may, at its discretion, decide to fund any number of Spotlight-relevant applications and may decline to fund any such applications in a given round. Spotlight applications are evaluated competitively against all applications received in the same round of InnovateMass, using the same review criteria and process.

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.

Can a company that originated or has offices outside of Massachusetts apply to InnovateMass?

This is something that has recently changed for InnovateMass. Previously we allowed out-of-state companies with project partners or sites in MA. Now we are restricting the program only to MA-based companies. If you are out of state, that does not make you eligible. However, we would allow MA companies working with a host outside of the state.

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.

InnovateMass was specifically designed to provide targeted, strategic support to companies facing the so called “commercialization valley of death,” a widely-recognized funding gap that exists between early-stage support offered by angel investors and later-stage support historically provided by venture capital and strategic investors.

Funding is made available twice a year, typically in the summer and winter. While most InnovateMass funding rounds accept applications covering a wide array of clean energy technologies, the program may issue specific energy challenges to foster innovation within particular sectors that are priority areas for the MassCEC, or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  

Additionally, the program provides third-party project management and technical support to ensure that projects are successful. The program technical consultant will meet regularly with awardees to review workplans, discuss and resolve technical and other project-related barriers and review performance monitoring and evaluation plans.