Money for nothing (except ground-breaking clean-energy ideas)


There’s now $24 million available to enterprising entrepreneurs working on early-stage clean-energy concepts – and all they have to do is ask.

Businesspeople with exciting concepts tied to a clean-energy future could start submitting applications for the grants yesterday. The money is coming from the California Energy Commission, with funding provided by California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) initiative.

CalSEED will provide the money over five years to support trailblazers who are looking to jumpstart their clean-energy innovations clean energy concepts. The grant recipients can get up to to $150,000 for proof of concept activities and can pitch their ideas for up to $450,000 in follow-on funding.

But the money is just the beginning. Grant recipients will also receive technical expertise, mentoring and business-development support from a network of entrepreneurial training organizations, nonprofits, businesses, universities and clean energy incubators.

“This initiative will help entrepreneurs move their projects from an idea to the marketplace thereby helping to advance California’s transition to a clean energy future, said Robert Weisenmiller, the Energy Commission chair.

The CalSEED is just the latest program funded by the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program. In a concerted effort to move to a clean-energy future more quickly, the EPIC program  invests about $120 million annually for innovative clean energy technologies and approaches, with the goal of benefiting California ratepayers as well as California’s three biggest utilities.

The California Clean Energy Fund, a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in early stage and startup companies, manages it.

“This level of funding is not typically available for pre-prototype or pre-revenue ideas,” said Deepa Lounsbury, CalSEED Program Manager. “We believe the program will catalyze a new era of clean energy technologies.”


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