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 VII-B (Summer 2019) was: Data Science and Machine Learning.

This program is NOW CLOSED.

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.

Information on how to apply for the next round of InnovateMass will be announced in Fall 2019.

What does it mean to apply under the InnovateMass Spotlight?

InnovateMass Spotlights are designed to surface innovative ideas that speak to specific energyrelated 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.  Applications with a clean-energy focus not under the Spotlight are still welcome.

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...).

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-ofstate 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.

Q&A from our May 7, 2019 Quarterly Funding Opportunities Webinar

  1. Our project is clean tech with strong public interest impact, but with a difficult to measure greenhouse gas impact. Is it necessary to show the greenhouse gas impact?
    1. Do the best that you can to show the greenhouse gas impact. Where would greenhouse gases be coming from and how does your technology impact that source?
    2. Please also note that we are legally barred from considering co-benefits such as a technology that only reduces particulate matter but not greenhouse gases.
  2. How do you determine whether a company is a “Massachusetts-based company”?
    1. To be eligible for InnovateMass, the lead applicant must currently have and maintain a majority of the following functions in Massachusetts:
      1. Company Headquarters (primary executives located in Massachusetts)
      2. Primary research and development operations
      3. Primary manufacturing operations
      4. Primary sales & marketing office
    2. If an applicant company only has 3 of these business operations, at least 2 must be based in Massachusetts).
  3. Is there a letter of intent and what is the deadline?
    1. There is no letter of intent. InnvovateMass applications are due June 10th.
  4. If project partners are out of state does that disadvantage the applicant?
    1. No, out of state project partners are acceptable, just be sure to explain how that out of state demonstration or your technology is beneficial to the Commonwealth.
    2. We understand that not every technology we support have a market in MA, what we want to see is a demonstration of the company’s benefits and connection to the state.
  5.  Do applicants need to have the cost-share funds before the submission of the application?
    1. The funds to not need to be in a bank account, but we highly encourage you to have the funds committed.
  6. Are Enel and National Grid interested in partnering on projects not involved with data science and machine learning?
    1. Enel and National Grid have agreed to review proposal related to the topical spotlight, however applicants may reach out to them regarding a technology not related to data science and machine learning. If the spotlight partners are uninterested, applicants are still able to apply as a regular InnovateMass project.
  7. Where can I find the Enel and National Grid contact info?
    1. Please see relevant information for the data science and machine learning spotlight here.
  8. How would benefits be included in the hourly rate?
    1. We list out what can be included in terms of tax contributions, benefits, and so forth in the RFP.
  9. Do you need names and addresses of angel investors listed in the cost share?
    1. No, you may list them collectively as "angel investors."
  10. How do you define technology readiness level?
    1. We use the standard NASA definition with an understanding that “space” is replaced with a general definition of what it means to be in the field.
  11. How do you like to see the advancement TRL through InnovateMass and how to you balance software and hardware solutions.?
    1. We evaluate software and hardware solutions equally and we understand the difference between a “field demonstration” of software vs. hardware. The InnvoateMass program aims to advance the TRL level of a technology past the demonstration phase.
  12. Does the amount being asked for in an InnovateMass application impact the competitiveness?
    1. We do have a fixed budget per round, so while we have awarded projects with the maximum amount and the minimum cost share, proposals with a lower ask and a higher cost share do generally allow MassCEC to do more with the program budget.
  13. Is there a single winner or multiple?
    1. Typically, there are 3-5 awardees per round
  14. Are proposals evaluated competitively against each other or against the criteria of the rounds?
    1. Primarily against the criteria of the program, we do a two stage down selection so out paper review stage we are really looking for proposals the score well against the program criteria. At the finalist level it gets more competitive for proposals against each other.
  15. Please go more into depth on the role of the third-party technical consultant.
    1.  The role of the third-party technical consultant is twofold:
      1. Project management: the technical consultant will be checking in on the project progress at least once a month and answer any questions that you have and then relay that information to MassCEC.
      2. Confidentiality screening: MassCEC is a public agency and subject to public records requests. If any deliverable key to measuring project success is confidential, the grantee would sent that to the technical consultant via a secure file transfer protocol and the consultant will review the deliverables and let MassCEC know that this successfully demonstrates the milestone.

 

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.