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.
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 $75,000 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.
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.
Application period opens
August 15, 2022
|Deadline to submit questions||
September 20, 2022
|MassCEC posts responses to questions||
September 26, 2022
October 11, 2022
|Applicants notified of finalist status||
November 10, 2022
Week of December 14, 2022
|Finalists notified of award status||
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.
This Program invites participation in a two-part application process:
- Submit your application on or after August 15, 2022 via our online platform.
- If selected, pitch to a panel of program judges.
For full Program details, please refer to the Catalyst RFP.
For any questions, please email email@example.com.
Request for Proposals
Can I apply to both Catalyst/DICES
No, you must pick a program but there are no disadvantages to applying to one or the other
Are some focus areas more successful than others when applying?
No, we do not have more interest in a specific focus area than another outside of basic eligibility. if it doesn’t fall within one of our focus areas (clean transportation, buildings, net-zero grid, offshore wind) you are still welcome to apply but there is an increased burden and emphasis on GHG impact
Would full-time female faculty be eligible for DICES?
No, academics do not fall under qualify for DICES. DICES is reserved for startup companies.
Do collaborators, investors, or customers need to be located in Massachusetts?
No, none of these parties need to be located in Massachusetts.
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 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 under the program, MassCEC reserves the right to require awardees achieve woman- or minority- owned certification (through the SDO or another certification body).
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, but please note that is is not required. 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.
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 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.
Advancing Reverse Osmosis
Harmony Desal is creating a more efficient and scalable version of traditional reverse osmosis, the state-of-the-art technology used in desalination.
3-D Underground Mapping and Analytics
Preserv is building an innovative platform that combines artificial intelligence (AI), ground penetrating radar (GPR) and cloud technologies to provide automated, accurate 3D underground maps and analytics that accelerate and save costs for a wide range of large-scale infrastructure projects for utility companies.
High-Purity Silicon for the Solar PV Industry
SilarTek is is developing a high-purity silicon from natural pure quartzite (SiO₂) in only one step, utilizing molten salt electrolysis with a state-of-the-art molten salt composition.
Environmentally Friendly Insulation
SpadXTech is developing innovative, biologically sourced, cellulose-based, sustainably produced, highly effective insulation materials that will meet the increasing demand for environmentally friendly building materials in the construction industry and replace toxic spray foam insulation.
Iron-Based Redox Flow Battery
Volta Energy is developing an iron-based redox flow battery based on a novel cell structure that would help reduce the costs of stationary storage solutions.
Western New England University
Fuel Cell Enhancements
Western New England University is developing a novel technology that removes water droplets from the flow channels clogged by proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells in transportation applications.
Software to Help Homeowners Eliminate GHG Emissions
ZERO is developing a software, Zero Emissions Retrofit Optimization (ZERO), that can produce a data-driven plan to improve comfort and put homeowners on a cost-effective path to eliminate their buildings’ emissions.