New transformational technologies for low-carbon energy and infrastructure are vital to helping California attain its climate goals while protecting the well-being of its citizens. Yet the journey from concept to prototype to scale-up to market introduction and commercialization can be long and costly. Key funding opportunities and programs by CEC and others target common hurdles faced by energy technology developers by addressing funding gaps and facilitating access to resources and services that can speed the pace of innovation.
Energy Research Funding and Support Initiatives
The California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development Initiative provides small grant funding for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and produce early prototypes. This level of funding fills a crucial niche in the financing landscape for clean energy technologies. Innovations developed at this early stage can allow entrepreneurs to compete for follow-on funding from public or private sources to continue their technology development efforts.
The California Test Bed Initiative provides clean energy companies with access to testing and certification services needed to refine their prototypes, as well as verification that new technologies meet customer performance and safety specifications before field trials. The initial network includes 29 University of California facilities from all ten campuses and two National Laboratory facilities. Connecting research facilities that would otherwise be disconnected allows clean energy companies to be served more efficiently and effectively throughout the state.
The Bridging Rapid Innovation Development to Green Energy initiative competitively awards subsequent funding for the most promising technologies that had previously received funding for early-stage development from an eligible federal agency or one of CEC’s research programs. BRIDGE helps start-up companies avoid the funding gap between the time a successful project ends and funding for new projects is awarded, a process that can span two to three years.
CEC has provided funding for four Regional Innovation Clusters, local hubs offering energy researchers a suite of support services such as increased access to laboratory facilities and guidance on business model development, commercialization and scale-up strategies, and intellectual property considerations. The technical and nontechnical resources available at the Clusters create an ecosystem that fosters energy innovations from the earliest stages of technology development through to market readiness.
- Bay Area Regional Energy Innovation Cluster
- BlueTechValley Innovation Cluster
- Los Angeles Regional Energy Innovation Cluster
- San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Cluster
The Realizing Accelerated Manufacturing and Production initiative provides technical and financial assistance to help clean energy entrepreneurs successfully advance their emerging best-of-class innovative technologies to the low-rate initial production stage. Low-rate initial production is the first step in transitioning from highly customized hand-built prototypes, which are used for pilot testing and vetting with customers, to the final mass-produced product.