California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneurial Development (CalSEED) Initiative

Bridging the gap for clean energy entrepreneurs with non-dilutive funding up to $600k.

California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures

Recipient

Oakland, CA

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

18th

Assembly District

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$31,707,765

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2023, CalSEED awarded over $7 million to 33 startups throughout the state for a range of projects that advance new technologies across renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, energy storage, and grid reliability.

Funding amounts have also increased to account for rising costs and inflation. Concept Awards are now $200,000 and Prototype Awards are $500,000 - up from $150,000 for Concept Awards and $450,000 Prototype Awards prior to 2023.

Since CalSEED’s inception in 2016, 143 startups have received a total of $21.45 million in concept awards, and 30 startups have received a total of $13.8 million in Prototype Awards (24 companies at $450,000 and 6 companies awarded in November 2023 at $500,000). CalSEED seeks to support innovators and entrepreneurs from diverse socio-economic and geographic backgrounds in California and is proud to have awarded $18.9 million to companies with underrepresented groups in leadership, including women.

The Issue

Clean energy entrepreneurs have trouble securing very early stage funding for potential breakthrough technologies even if those technologies would merit significant follow-on funding after the proof-of-concept is completed. Additionally, entrepreneurs with technology concepts often do not have adequate access to the mentoring, technical consulting, and business services that they need to successfully bring their technology to market.

Project Innovation

The CalSEED Initiative helps develop California's next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs, providing seed funding as well as mentoring, technical consulting, and business development services to support energy entrepreneurs and research teams in their quest to develop breakthrough solutions that will benefit electric ratepayers in Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric service territories. Entrepreneurs receive funding in two stages. Concept Awards provide funding of up to $200,000 and are conducted through open solicitations; Prototype Awards provide funding of up to $500,000, but are only available to companies who have received a Concept Award.

Project Goals

Award about 25 startups / year to advance promising technologies that will result in benefits to ratepayers in California
Track metrics for technology advancement and business development across all grant recipients.
Work with startups to start building Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into their business plans as they scale.

Project Benefits

CalSEED addresses a critical gap in the early technology development phase where small amounts of funding can have a significant impact in bringing new ratepayer-beneficial innovations to market by providing seed funding as well as mentoring, technical consulting, and business development services to support energy entrepreneurs and research teams in their quest to develop breakthrough clean energy solutions.

Economic Development

Economic Development

The CalSEED Initiative fills an important niche in the energy innovation space by providing initial small grant funding to energy entrepreneurs to prove out their technology concept. The results can be used to attract private sector funding.

Key Project Members

Joy Larson

Joy Larson

Program Director
Project Member

Sarah Chester

Compliance Manager
New Energy Nexus

Subrecipients

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Davis Campus

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The Regents of the University of California, on behalf of the San Diego campus

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Center for Sustainable Energy

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Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator

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Elemental Excelerator

Rocket

Umberg Zipser LLP

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Greenlining Institute

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Build Momentum (d.b.a. Momentum)

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Match Partners

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Regents of the University of California, Davis

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California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures

Rocket

Umberg Zipser LLP

Rocket

Greenlining Institute

Rocket

Build Momentum (d.b.a. Momentum)

Rocket

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Past Events

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