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Request for Proposals - InnovateMass
The InnovateMass Program is currently CLOSED.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is issuing this Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek out applications to the InnovateMass program. InnovateMass provides up to $250,000 in grant funding for projects that deploy new clean energy and water innovation technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies that demonstrate a strong potential for commercialization while providing significant measurable clean energy, clean water and/or climate benefits to Massachusetts. Grant recipients are required to provide project cost share equivalent to 50% of the award. The InnovateMass program also provides no-cost third-party project management and technical support to all awardees to ensure successful projects.
This RFP provides two funding opportunities: (1) grants for clean energy and/or water innovation technology demonstration projects and (2) grants for projects that demonstrate innovations in clean transportation technologies under the Clean Transportation and Mobility Spotlight.
Clean transportation technologies are those which eliminate or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in any mode of transit (including personal, mass, and freight transportation sectors).
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.
A successful application will propose projects that address significant energy or water-energy nexus challenges, help to grow Massachusetts’ clean energy economy, and contribute to the state’s clean energy and water innovation leadership.
MassCEC discussed the InnovateMass Program in its first Quarterly Funding Opportunities Update Webinar on May 16. View the presentation slides here.
Please note: the Cost Share Requirement section (under Section VI. Budget - Page 6) of the RFP document below has been updated as of April 25, 2018 in order to clarify the requirement.
RFP-related questions have been answered below.
Below is the timeline for the RFP process.
April 17, 2018
|May 17, 2018|
June 1, 2018 by 4:00 PM Eastern
July 16, 2018
Mandatory Pitch Coaching for Finalists*
|July 16 – August 3, 2018|
August 14, 2018
*Dates after RFP Response Due Date are anticipated dates. All dates are subject to change.
Proposals must be received by MassCEC at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday, June 1st by 4:00 PM Eastern. “InnovateMass Summer 2018 Application – [Company Name]” should appear in the e-mail subject line.
Responses to Questions
(All project-specific references in questions submitted have been removed.)
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.
How can I partner with the MBTA for InnovateMass?
Please read the document linked above, which includes directions for how to contact the MBTA.
Do all proposals with the MBTA need to relate to clean transportation technologies and fall under the Clean Transportation Spotlight?
No. The MBTA has energy challenges related to transport as well as common challenges facing commercial and industrial energy users. MassCEC and the MBTA welcome proposals that speak to any of the MBTA’s energy challenges.
Do all proposals for the Clean Transportation Spotlight need to involve the MBTA?
No. MassCEC seeks proposals that concern all aspects of clean transportation and mobility, including those outside the scope of the MBTA’s activities.
Could you clarify difference between the Budget Form (Attachment C) excel sheet where we define and explain our project budget, and the Budget tab in Attachment B - Project Workplan Template --- It seems like they will have similar inputs (describing who undertakes what work, and whether it is covered by grant or cost share), but the Project Workplan looks more comprehensive since it breaks it out by milestone. Is the level of detail the distinction between these two separate attachments?
The level of detail is the distinction between the two documents. The workplan budget is more descriptive of the breakdown in costs for different steps of the project, whereas the proposal budget speaks to the big picture of how the grant will be spent and what the cost share will go towards.
We have likely candidates for contractors to conduct the required work under our proposed project, but since the RFP is only out for a bit over a month, it seems like it'll be hard to get signed LOIs in that short of a time period; especially when we're still discussing with the potential contractors the scope of work. We've drafted LOIs and presented them to our candidates; is it an issue if we do not receive these back by the time the RFP closes?
It is more crucial to have the signed LOIs from project partners and demonstration sites, who are a more vital component of the project. Subcontractors may be finalized after the application is submitted.
Do responses to the application questions have to fit exactly in the space/boxes provided in the InnovateMass Application Form? Same question for Summary and Milestone Description columns in Attachment B: Project Workplan Template. Are there font size or line spacing limitations?
Please conform to the spaces provided in the Application Form and do not change the default font and line spacing.
On the statement of Other Funding Sources - does the company have to name private investors?
If you are not comfortable, you do not need to name investors in the application. You may list “private capital” as a funding source.
Will each awardee have its own program technical consultant or is there one for the entire program?
One technical consultant team supports the program. Each awardee will typically be assigned one individual representative from the consultant team as their primary point of contact, but each representative will support multiple grantees.
Is there a template for the Signed Letter of Intent?
No, you may draft your own letter.
Is there any guidance on the # of milestones for the Project Workplan?
This is flexible depending on your project, but typically we see 10-15 milestones in each project. Note that the workplan submitted with your application is only an initial draft workplan; each awardee will develop a final workplan with the technical consultant after being awarded.
If equipment is purchased for the project, the cost of which is included in the budget, are there any limitations on the its use after the project demo is complete?
Is there an expectation for the duration of demonstration of the project? Days, weeks, other?
Awardees have 24 months to complete their projects.
What does the letter of intent do? Does it require the partner purchase the product from my company? Do you have an example?
The letter of intent is a host site or company agreeing to partner with you for your demonstration project. It does not require them to purchase your product. For example, if you will perform a demonstration at a nursing home, the nursing home is your demonstration site, and you will need a signed letter from them agreeing to partner with you in this project and be your demonstration site.
When is the deadline to get a letter of intent, the same as the application?
Yes, the letter is part of your application package.
Our technology is a consumer product, not a project. We don't have a letter of intent. Are we still qualified?
The purpose of the InnovateMass program is to perform a demonstration project. If you are solely looking for funding for a consumer product, unfortunately that would not be appropriate for this program. Such proposals may be appropriate for our Catalyst and AmplifyMass programs.
Can you clarify demonstration project more? What constitutes a demonstration project?
The purpose of the demonstration project is to show your technology at a host site. For example, if you are applying with an energy efficiency technology, your technology should address an existing energy efficiency problem. The application of the technology must demonstrate energy efficiency benefits. You need to find a host site partner and form an application team with them in order to apply to the program, and you will need to provide signed letters of intent from the host site agreeing to participate in the project. Some examples of past InnovateMass projects can be found on page 2 of the RFP.
While Massachusetts receives all the economic benefit since the company and project site are both located in Massachusetts, the environmental benefit is global. Is this an issue?
This is not an issue.
We have partners and/or customers in each of the three project locations, plus we have preliminary sites identified, but the sites may change. Are there consequences should the sites change after applications are due?
This is dealt with on a case by case basis. We cannot guarantee that we will approve a site change after your application submission; however, we understand that things change along the way. We may be able to be flexible if the spirit of the project stays the same and the site changes are appropriate.
With the Pitch targeted for August 2018, when is the soonest you expect the projects to begin and grant dollars to become available?
We expect to announce awards in September 2018 and begin contracting in October. You will have 6 months to complete a workplan (which you will do with the help of our technical consultant) after the award is announced. At that point, it is up to you how quickly this process is finished, and once your workplan is approved and the contract is signed, you may begin working on the project and submitting invoices.
Part of the installation process will require a 3rd party to install our signs on structures owned by our customers. Our customers will pay for this installation. Can this be included in the customer cost share commitment? I have a quote from one installer. If it's ok to include this can I bundle this with the cost for each installation?
Yes, this would count towards your cost share requirement. You may include it with the cost for each installation.
The application is not supposed to contain confidential information at all? Is the Concept Paper portion of the application public release? Can it contain information desired to be confidential?
Please do not include any confidential information in your application. Applications are presumed to be public documents.
Please verify that the prime tech developer (proposer) can receive payment for time worked on the demonstration project?
Yes, direct labor associated with the demonstration project is an eligible budget item.
Do all applicants have to demonstrate their status as "Massachusetts based companies” prior to application? Or, can the status of "Massachusetts based company” be established after application but before release of the grant funds to the company? Thus, can a non-Massachusetts based company become eligible to apply, providing they work to meet the criteria if they get selected for the award?
In order to meet this eligibility requirement, you would have to already have plans in place to relocate to Massachusetts, and make that clear in your application. The program is restricted to companies based in Massachusetts, so if you are not already in the process of relocating, you are not eligible. Please note that the InnovateMass Program will now be offered twice per year, so companies planning to move to Massachusetts in the near future may apply to a future round.
What is a “Total Addressable Carbon” analysis?
The Total Addressable Carbon (TAC) is an estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions that can be reduced, avoided, or remediated assuming wide adoption of a technology or practice. The TAC analysis is designed to give both the applicant and MassCEC a strong sense of what sources of greenhouse gas emissions the proposed project would impact, and how large those potential impacts could be.
Applicants are encouraged to leverage 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), and others. Analyses may be based on a state-wide, national, or international framing. Applicants should seek primarily to identify the total carbon emissions currently associated with the sector targeted by their technology or practice (for example, transportation or residential heating). For example, a technology to reduce the cost of solar panels would impact the approximately 1,250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted every year from electricity generation in the United States.
To the greatest extent possible, applicants should also seek to estimate an “optimistically plausible” amount of those emissions that could be reduced, avoided, or remediated given widespread adoption of the proposed solution. Order-of-magnitude estimates are acceptable, as the goal of the analysis is primarily conceptual rather than precise. Applicants are encouraged to consider both direct and indirect effects as appropriate and to explicitly describe assumptions, especially assumptions related to cost reductions or barriers to adoption.
Acceptable alternatives to a TAC analysis include an avoided-energy analysis for energy efficiency technologies and LCOE reduction analyses for energy generation technologies.
Are software technologies eligible for InnovateMass?
Yes, software technologies are eligible, but as the program aims to fund demonstration projects, there must be a clearly defined demonstration of the software that will help advance commercialization of the technology. For example, you could take a data set and demonstrate that you have a machine learning algorithm that can produce good results based on that data set.
What is the confidentiality policy for the InnovateMass Program?
We consider all application materials that we receive to be public or publicly releasable. We do not post them online, but they are all subject to public records requests. Please do not add any business-sensitive or confidential information into your proposal. If you are awarded, our technical consultant serves as a firewall between MassCEC and any confidential information provided by the awardees. Companies may produce confidential information during the project that is reviewed by our technical consultant, but that information is not directly shared with MassCEC
What is the contact information for the technical consultant that is contracted for InnovateMass? Can applicants reach out to them before submitting a proposal?
We do not give out their contact information to applicants. Since they join us on the review panel during the application review stage and attend the pitch day as a judge, it would be an unfair advantage to an applicant to get coached on their application. However, they collaborate very closely with the awardees once projects have been awarded.
If a company has a few different projects in the pipeline, can they apply with multiple applications for different projects?
We do not recommend submitting multiple applications in the same round. We recommend that a company only submit a single application with a well formulated project plan that makes sense for their technology and company and focus on why that particular project makes sense.
On the InnovateMass Project Workplan spreadsheet, there are two tabs, one is the project workplan tab one is the project summary tab. What is the difference between these two tabs?
The Project Workplan spreadsheet has four tabs in it:
- The revision history, which fresh applications won’t have filled out
- A detailed budget tab, which break downs what the grant request is by task, the cost share that is being provided by the applicant by task and how those costs are distributed among personnel, subcontractors, materials and other sorts of direct costs
- The project workplan
- The project summary
The project workplan will list all the different milestones that are part of the project, the grant funding request associated with each of those milestones, the cost share associated with each of those milestones, the timeline of each milestone, a description of the work the applicant envisions taking place under the milestone, and then a column that goes through what the deliverables will be. The project summary auto populates from the project workplan tab and does not include the deliverables descriptions.
What was the average grant size for InnovateMass over the last few rounds?
Over the last few rounds our average award has been in the range of $100,000 – $125,000. However, our award cap increased from $150,000 to $250,000 starting in the Winter 2017 round. We expect applications ranging in grant requests all the way from small requests up to the max request of $250,000.