Catalyst and DICES

The Challenge: Advance Research-Stage Technologies to Commercial Viability

A key step in advancing a new technology beyond the research stage is to develop and demonstrate a prototype.  Funding for prototyping is often difficult to obtain. 

About Catalyst

The Catalyst Program provides grants of up to $75,000 to researchers and early-stage companies looking to demonstrate initial prototypes of their clean energy technologies. Catalyst is jointly administered by MassCEC and MassVentures with a goal of stimulating the commercialization of clean energy technologies developed in the Commonwealth. Specifically, the program is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of transforming new ideas from the research stage to commercially viable technologies to increase industry and investor interest. All awardees gain access to a vast network of partners, expert local market and policy insights, and mentoring from MassCEC and MassVentures, while all finalists receive complimentary pitch coaching and business mentoring.

About "Diversity in Cleantech - Early Stage" (DICES)

In parallel with Catalyst, MassCEC and MassVentures will award up to two additional grants of up to $65,000 each for projects led by eligible (certified or certifiable) women-owned or minority-owned early-stage companies, to demonstrate initial prototypes of their clean energy technologies. 

Status
Closed
Status Details
Next round opens Aug 15, 2022
Award Potential
$75,000
Application Deadline
October 11, 2022
Questions? Contact

Funding Schedule

Proposals are due October 11, 2022 for the current round of Catalyst and DICES. The full timeline presented is subject to change, at MassCEC's discretion.

Process Step Timing

Application period opens

August 15, 2022

Deadline to submit questions

September 20, 2022

MassCEC posts responses to questions

September 26, 2022

Applications due

October 11, 2022

Applicants notified of finalist status

November 10, 2022

Finalists' presentations

Week of December 14, 2022

Finalists notified of award status

January, 2023

Who's Eligible

Catalyst and DICES are for technologies that are at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-4, according to the TRL Calculator developed by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority.

Eligible applicants include principal investigators at Massachusetts-based nonprofit research institutions or Massachusetts-based early-stage clean energy companies.  

For DICES, applicants must also verify that they are eligible as a woman- or minority-owned startup.  More information about this process can be found in Section V of the Catalyst Request For Proposals (RFP).

For full Program details, please refer to the Catalyst RFP.

Apply

Application Process

This Program invites participation in a two-part application process:

  1. Submit your application on or after August 15, 2022 via our online platform.
  2. If selected, pitch to a panel of program judges.

For full Program details, please refer to the Catalyst RFP.

For any questions, please email companycatalyst@masscec.com.

Request for Proposals

Note: The following document from the prior funding round is provided for reference only; the new RFP will be posted August 15, 2022.

Learn About DICES and Catalyst

Join MassCEC and MassVentures on August 23rd from 2:30-3:30 PM to learn more about the DICES and Catalyst program. You'll hear directly from Maddy Zeliff, Program Administrator at MassCEC, and Priya Yadav, Vice President of Investments at MassVentures. 
Use Passcode 775338 to join the live webinar:

Can't wait for August 23? Watch this recording of the February 2022 webinar for a brief overview of MassCEC's and MassVentures' technology development and investment programs, followed by more detail about DICES and Catalyst.  Presented by Leslie Nash, Senior Program Manager at MassCEC and Priya Yadav, Vice President of Investments at MassVentures.

FAQs

What other resources are available to Massachusetts start-ups?

Several resources available to startups in Massachusetts, in addition to MassCEC grants. If your company is interested in learning more about the region's accelerators and incubators, read more here.

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 MassCEC is happy to support those endeavors under the grant, should you be awarded.   

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.

Should I include revenues in the funding requirements?

Yes, revenues should be included.  Please see page 5 of the RFP.

Can a project have external collaborators who will provide materials or other technical support to build or test the prototype?

Yes, but MassCEC Catalyst funding will be used to support the work conducted by the applicant and not the external partners. External partners can contribute whatever they wish to the project.

Do collaborators, investors, or customers need to be located in Massachusetts?

No, none of these parties need to be located in Massachusetts.

Do I have to obtain the full SDO certification prior to application?

Section V. of the RFP states that interested applicants only need to submit the 30-second self-assessment at the time of application to the Catalyst and DICES programs.

If your application is selected for an award, then you will need to become fully certified. This process can take up to 30 days, but there is time between award notification and contracting for you to attain that certification. More information can be found in Section V. of the RFP.

Would you like applicants to submit their certification from SDO Mass into their application?

Yes, you can include the SDO certification as an attachment in the application portal. There is a place within the application portal that prompts you to upload the SDO documentation (whether that is the self-assessment or the full certification).

Where can I find the results page for the SDO self-assessment? What does it look like?

On slide 20 of the webinar slide deck, you can see an example of a screenshot of the “results page” from the SDO self-assessment. It’s basically the last page that pops up after you complete the self-assessment. The “results page” includes the recommendation for you to pursue full certification for woman- or minority- owned business enterprise.

Recent Awardees

Since program inception, Catalyst has awarded nearly $8.5 million to 157 awardees, who have gone on to raise more than $449 million in follow-on funding and submit 159 patent applications. One out of every four university awardees has created a new company.

Vespr Solar, Inc.
Wind-Resilient, Rapid Install PV Module Attachment Methods

VesprSolar, Inc. is conducting testing for its Category 5 hurricane-resilient PV panel attachment solutions.

Yard Stick PBC
Rapid, in situ Spectral Measurement of Soil Carbon Stocks

Yard Stick PBC is developing a comprehensive software package to accomodate its existing handheld measurment device that assesses organic carbon content of soils.

Highland Park Technologies LLC (formerly PT Technologies)
PT Panel: A Prefabricated High-Performance Envelope Retrofit

Highland Park Technologies is completing testing certifications for its insulating prefabricated exterior wall panel made from wood fiber sheets with an integrated finish coat.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst
An Integrated Wave Energy Stabilizer for Floating Wind Turbines

The University of Massachusetts Amherst/PI Sharman is proposing a wave energy stabilizer for floating offshore wind turbine substructures.

Kwiksulate, Inc.
Kwiksulate DIY Foam Insulation

Kwikisulate, Inc. is proposing a compact foam-in-bag insulation package which expands to fill available wall space without creating waste.

Carbon Bioenergy, Inc.
Carbon Dioxide Reduction into Chemicals and Fuels Using Organic Waste as a Catalyst in a New Reactor System

Carbon Bioenergy, Inc. is proposing a pilot system to test its reactor for convering carbon dioxide and biomass into biofuels and industrial chemcials.

Thermal Solutions, Inc.
Development of Firebrick Resistance-Heated Energy Storage for Industrial Heat Applications and Round-Trip Electricity Storage

Electrified Thermal Solutions, Inc. is proposing a nre energy storage technology ("FIRES") that converts surplus electricity from grid-connected renewables into heat.

Additional Funding Opportunities