Request for Proposals - InnovateMass

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) seeks applications to its InnovateMass Program (the “Program”) for (1) clean energy technology demonstration projects generally; and (2) technology demonstration projects under the InnovateMass Round VII-b Spotlight: Data Science and Machine Learning.

InnovateMass provides grant funding of up to $250,000 per project and technical support for projects that are developing new clean energy technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies that demonstrate a strong potential for commercialization while providing significant measurable clean energy and/or climate benefits. While InnovateMass funding may be used to support demonstration of any technology that meets MassCEC’s definition of “clean energy” (see Section X, below), particular emphasis will be placed on identifying projects in the following four areas:

  1. Energy storage, grid modernization, and resiliency
  2. Building-level energy usage
  3. Clean transportation
  4. Offshore wind

Under the Data Science and Machine Learning Spotlight, InnovateMass will also provide funding for projects that demonstrate innovations between technology readiness level (TRL) 5 and 7 that enable data-driven insights and intelligent automation in support of clean energy. Specifically, MassCEC is particularly interested in innovations that leverage data science and machine learning techniques to:

  1. Reduce building energy use and optimize energy consumption and generation at the building level
  2. Accelerate adoption of clean transportation technologies
  3. Use machine learning or data science tools that reduce the cost or increase the market permeation of clean energy resources in sectors related to the MassCEC focus areas listed above

If you would like to learn more about applying to the InnovateMass and DeployMass Programs at MassCEC, please watch our webinar that was hosted Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 1:30-2:30 PM EST.

RFP-related questions have been answered below.

Request for Proposals (RFP) – InnovateMass Round VII-b (Summer 2019)

Application Form

Project Workplan and Budget Template (Attachment B)

NYSERDA TRL Calculator (Attachment C)

Template Grant Agreement (Attachment D)

Data Science and Machine Learning Spotlight Invitations for Partnership- Enel and National Grid

 

Below is the timeline for the RFP process. 

Milestone

Date

RFP Released

Thursday, April 18

Questions Due

Thursday, May 9

Applications Due

Monday, June 10 by 4:00 PM Eastern

Pitch Notifications*

Wednesday, July 3

Mandatory Pitch coaching for Finalists*

Monday, July 8 – Friday, July 19

Pitch*

Tuesday, July 30

 

*Dates after RFP Response Due Date are anticipated dates. All dates are subject to change.

Proposals must be received by MassCEC at innovate@masscec.com no later than Monday, June 10 by 4:00 PM Eastern. “InnovateMass Summer 2019 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 National Grid or Enel for InnovateMass?

Please read the document linked above, which includes directions for how to contact either of these potential project partners.

Do all proposals with National Grid or Enel need to relate to data science or machine learning technologies and fall under the Data Science or Machine Learning Spotlight?

Please refer to the document linked above, which outlines each potential project partner’s areas of interest with respect to the InnovateMass Program.

Do all proposals for the Data Science or Machine Learning Spotlight need to involve National Grid or Enel?

No. MassCEC seeks proposals that concern all aspects of data science and machine learning.

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 or Commitment? 

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?

No.

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 July 2019, when is the soonest you expect the projects to begin and grant dollars to become available?

We expect to notify awardees in August 2019 and begin contracting in September. 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.

The application is not supposed to contain confidential information at all?

Please do not include any confidential information in your application. Applications are presumed to be public documents.

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.