The Seed Investments Program is a two-stage investment program that provides up to $250,000 in convertible notes to pre-seed or seed-stage clean energy startups. The program exists to support companies as they advance and commercialize clean energy technologies and business models.

The predecessor to the Seed Investments Program was the AccelerateMass program, through which twelve clean energy startups were supported between 2015-2019.

This program is currently OPEN.

Click here to view a recording of the Seed Investments Launch Informational Webinar. The webinar clarifies program details, eligibility, application and selection process, time frame, post award business objectives, success stories, and answers attendee questions.

A link to the slides presented can be found (starting on slide 19) here.

 

Only Massachusetts-based applicants whose primary business fits the MassCEC definition of “clean energy” (defined in the MassCEC Enabling Legislation here), and that are currently based in, or intend to relocate to Massachusetts, are eligible to apply. Awards to applicants not currently located in Massachusetts will be contingent on proof of relocation to the Commonwealth. Detailed requirements can be found in the “Eligibility” section of the Solicitation for Applications.

 

The Seed Investments Program is a two-phased competitive solicitation that is designed to support startups by filling a funding gap to 1) provide companies with financial runway towards (or as part of) an early stage financing round, and/or 2) achieve key commercial business objectives. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

Step 1: Review the Solicitation for Applications, the Summary of Terms, and the informational webinar and slides, to determine eligibility and award provisions. 

Step 2: Reach out to seed@masscec.com with any questions.

Step 3: Submit a Phase 1 Application and required attachments (along with supporting materials, to seed@masscec.com) with the subject line "Seed Investments Phase 1 Application - [Company Name]".

Step 4: MassCEC will notify applicants if their application has been denied or if they have been selected to advance to an in-person pitch presentation to further assess the company and business plan.

Step 5: If selected for further review, MassCEC will request additional legal due diligence materials (Attachment 3 of Convertible Note Purchase Agreement).

Step 6: MassCEC will notify applicants if they have been selected for investment and will work with applicants to finalize investment terms (as outlined in Summary of Terms).

Step 7: In addition to quarterly check-ins with MassCEC staff, recipients will be required to submit informal written updates every other month and quarterly financials.

 

Phase 2

Note: Only companies that have received a Phase 1 investment are eligible to apply for Phase 2. Applications for a Phase 2 Seed Investment are accepted on a rolling basis.

Step 1: Complete Phase 1 in accordance with the agreed-upon scope of work and reporting requirements outlined in Step 7 of Phase 1 above.

Step 2: Reach out to your primary Investments point of contact to express interest in a Phase 2 application.

Step 3: Submit a Phase 2 application and required attachments to seed@masscec.com with the subject line “Seed Investments Phase 2 Application – [Company Name].”

Step 4: MassCEC staff will evaluate the progress the company has made during Phase 1 as well as the continuing merit of the technology and business plan prior to a company’s entrance into the Phase 2 program. Staff will notify recipients if selected for a Phase 2 convertible note investment. The dollar amount of the Phase 2 investment can be no more than the difference between your Phase 1 investment and $250,000.

Step 5: In addition to quarterly check-ins with MassCEC staff, recipients will be required to submit informal written updates every other month and quarterly financials.

 

Since the program began, the Seed Investments Program has awarded 12 clean energy start-ups over $1.3 million in convertible notes. 7 start-ups have converted into a portfolio company, 3 have received an equity investment from MassCEC, and 1 repaid its note to MassCEC upon a subsequent fundraising round.

The Seed Investment Program, formerly known as AccelerateMass, was designed to support startups by filling a funding gap to 1) provide companies with financial runway towards (or as part of) an early stage financing round, and/or 2) achieve key commercial business objectives.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Provide additional funding opportunities for early stage companies to support commercial development;
  • Help to build on a company’s momentum by providing runway to an early stage financing round;
  • Assist out-of-state companies relocating to Massachusetts; and
  • Attract private capital to earlier stage companies.

What is the difference between the AccelerateMass and Seed Investments Program?

The AccelerateMass Program was the predecessor to the Seed Investments Program. In addition to a name change to better reflect the target audience and stage of investment, the main differentiator is that start-ups are no longer required to have participated in an accelerator program to receive an investment. The investment amount available has also increased, cumulatively, from $150K to $250K.

When is the application deadline?

The Seed Investments Program is open to applicants on a rolling basis.

When should I apply, and how long does it take to receive funding?

Apply at least 3 months before funding is needed as it will take at least 2 months to evaluate the request (if selected for an in-person pitch) and ~3+ months to receive the investment.

Can MassCEC provide Seed Investment funding as part of a pre-established round?

Yes, but the application process remains the same and MassCEC has to agree to the terms.

What is a convertible note?

A convertible note is a financial instrument that is initially provided as a loan with accruing interest and, upon obtaining a Qualified Financing or other funding milestone, the loan converts into an equity stake in the company. If a Qualified Financing or other funding milestone is not reached prior to maturity of the loan, MassCEC will elect to either collect on the principal and interest due, or convert its loan into equity at the then current fair market value.

Is there a conversion cap?

Yes, all Seed Investment convertible notes will have conversion caps that will be set on a case-by-case basis for each company.

If I receive a convertible note investment under the Seed Investments Program, what happens when I raise a Qualified Financing?

Upon raising a Qualified Financing, the convertible note will convert into the same equity security issued in that Qualified Financing. The number of shares that the note converts into will be based on the lower of the price per share related to the conversion cap, or the share price of that round taking into account a tiered, time-based discount, and accrued interest. At that time, MassCEC becomes an equity holder in the company and has rights similar to other investors.

What is a Qualified Financing?

A Qualified Financing is any sale of the company’s capital stock or other equity interests in a single transaction or series of related transactions amounting to $750,000 or more.

What if I raise a Qualified Financing before I apply for or receive my Phase 2 investment?

A Qualified Financing is a significant milestone and may demonstrate investor/commercial traction. Therefore, if you raise a Qualified Financing before receiving a Phase 2 investment, you may submit a Phase 2 Application and MassCEC will consider providing the Phase 2 convertible note investment immediately prior to the closing of the Qualified Financing or investing the Phase 2 amount directly in the Qualified Financing securities. The Phase 1 convertible note investment and any Phase 2 convertible note investment would convert into the securities issued in the Qualified Financing.

What does the “significant Massachusetts presence” requirement mean?

You must have a majority of the following offices based in Massachusetts (as applicable) in order to have a “significant Massachusetts presence”:

  • Company headquarters
  • Primary research and development operations
  • Primary sales and marketing office
  • Primary manufacturing operations

What if my company decides to move outside of Massachusetts after receiving a Seed Investment?

You must notify MassCEC if your company no longer maintains a significant Massachusetts presence, as defined above, after receiving the Seed Investment. In the case of out-of-state relocation, the investment is subject to redemption by MassCEC.

What if my company is not currently located in Massachusetts, but is interested in relocating there?

Out-of-state companies are eligible to apply for a Seed Investment if they are seriously considering a move to Massachusetts. Part of our Phase 1 review process will be to gauge the company’s commitment to relocating. Disbursal of a Phase 1 investment will be contingent on proof that the company then meets the “significant Massachusetts presence” requirement. Following notification of selection, companies will be given a 3-month grace period to provide proof of relocation.

Can MassCEC assist companies in relocating to Massachusetts?

Ultimately, companies are responsible for finding their own space in Massachusetts. However, there are numerous incubators in the Commonwealth that may be a good fit for companies at this stage, including:

For more information on clean energy incubators in Massachusetts, please visit our Massachusetts Clean Energy Incubators page. 

My application contains sensitive materials. What is MassCEC’s policy on confidentiality?

As a public entity, MassCEC is subject to Massachusetts' Public Records Law, codified at Chapter 66 of the Massachusetts General Laws ("Public Records Law"). Any documentary material, data, or other information submitted to MassCEC are presumed to be public records. An exemption to the Public Records Law may apply to certain records, including materials that fall under certain categories under a statutory or common law exemption, including the limited exemption at Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 23J, Section 2(k) regarding certain types of confidential information submitted to MassCEC by an applicant for any form of assistance.

In line with Public Records Law requirements and with regard to companies in which MassCEC makes equity and debt investments, MassCEC generally considers the following types of information as confidential:

  • Board meeting minutes
  • Capitalization table
  • Budgets and financial projections
  • Current and historical financial statements
  • Confidential Information contained in pitch decks
  • Term sheet(s)
  • Investment transaction documents
  • Details of strategic partnership or exclusivity agreements (if not already public)
  • Customer contracts
  • Supplier contracts
  • Technical product drawings or descriptions
  • Employee agreements
  • Details of fundraising history (major investors, pre- and post-money valuations, etc.) (if not already public)
  • Product pricing
  • Sales pipeline
  • R&D roadmap
  • Profitability margins
  • Further, MassCEC shall have the right to disclose the name of any payee, the amount of the investment, and any other information it may deem reasonably necessary on CTHRU, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ online database of state spending.

Can I apply to more than one MassCEC program/funding opportunity at one time?

Yes, you can apply to (and receive) support from more than one MassCEC program at a time, though simultaneous awards/investments, or awards/investments made in short succession, are unlikely as we look for demonstrated progress under previous awards. MassCEC has the right to consider applicants for none, only one, or more funding opportunities and will not make more than one award for a single scope of work. MassCEC reserves the right to disqualify applications which have not been compliant with previous MassCEC awards.

Do I need to receive another MassCEC award (like Catalyst) before applying for a Seed Investment?

No. 

Can I re-apply for a Seed Investment?

You can reapply to the Seed Investments Program if your company makes significant commercial progress between submitting applications, which is up to MassCEC’s discretion. However, companies cannot receive a Seed Investment more than once.

Program Manager: Kathryn Elmes 

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

63 Franklin Street, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA  02110

Email: seed@masscec.com