California Test Bed Initiative
California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures
In 2021, the first cohort of 25 CalTestBed Voucher recipients began third-party testing of their clean energy prototypes. The diverse cohort included 7 companies that were designated as minority and/or women owned, covered 9 different technology categories, and was approved for $5.5 M in testing vouchers with an additional $523,720 in cost share provided by University of California campus partners. According to a survey conducted in November 2021, 23 of 25 companies responded stating that since being named as CalTestBed awardees, they collectively created 137 jobs and secured $107.6 Million in follow-on funding. Jobs at the research facilities were supported directly by the funding, and a streamlined contracting mechanism and cross campus collaboration mechanism was designed and employed for the effort. The program also doubled the number of available testing facilities in the Directory from 29 to more than 60. Cohort 2 was recruited in 2021, and 15 companies were recommended for vouchers that commence testing in 2022. All 40 companies were added to the Entrepreneur Directory. Finally, the program was honored with the 2021 Federal Lab Consortium Award for Outstanding Partnership for the unique and effective public-private partnership designed to accelerate clean energy innovations toward commercialization, while strengthening and streamlining access to the clean energy testbed ecosystem in California.
In California, clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators experience significant difficulty making the leap from prototype to pilot scale demonstration of their technologies because they lack access to facilities and services to test and de-risk their products' design, safety and performance; and they lack technical feedback to shift product specifications to meet the requirements of potential customers. Entrepreneurs are also concerned about protecting their intellectual property and proprietary information as they approach commercialization of their innovations. This program provides access to world-class testing facilities with mechanisms in place to allow the innovator to maintain control of their IP.
This project has developed and implemented a voucher program to provide clean energy companies access to world-class facilities to test and de-risk prototypes of pre-commercial distributed energy resource technologies across 10 technology categories, and provide the data they need to refine their innovation to meet customer specifications. In only it's second year of operation, this project has more than doubled the initial network of 29 testing facilities to more than 60 located at nine University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The implementation team intends to continue to grow this network throughout the duration of the project. This robust network connects testing facilities throughout California in order to serve clean energy companies more efficiently and effectively, and the structure for cross-campus collaboration and public-private partnerships has been identified as best practice and is being replicated in other areas. The CalTestBed team is also building a national network of Next Level Partners including investors, pilot/demonstration partners, government agencies and other accelerator programs that can provide further support to the companies as they complete their testing and progress closer to commercialization. These next level partners are convened during the national CalTestBed symposium intended to provide the companies with exposure and connection to opportunities.
CalTestBed will accelerate new, clean, energy-efficient technologies to market and, as a result, help companies grow, secure additional investment and follow-on funding, create new jobs, develop pilot and demonstration partnerships, and deploy their technologies to benefit the ratepayers of the state through increased reliability, lower costs, and greater safety. CalTestBed is implemented with intention utilizing an equity in, equity out model to maximize the social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities throughout the state.
CalTestBed also provides benefits to California by strengthening the state's clean energy innovation ecosystem through organizing the collaborative network of more than 60 world-class testing facilities, documenting the testing capabilities in the CalTestBed Facilities Directory, supporting the work of scientists and graduate students, and creating efficient utilization of state-owned assets. Additionally, the unique unified contracting mechanism, implementation and oversight structure, and nationwide network of next level partners are examples of best practice and important qualitative benefits.
CalTestBed will provide third-party testing to entrepreneurs so they can test their prototype's performance under various conditions, refine their product, and have accurate data to share with potential partners and customers.
CalTestBed will provide objective feedback to help entrepreneurs improve their products to meet customer needs, and grow into self-sustaining businesses, creating economic and employment opportunities throughout the state.
CalTestBed provides third-party testing data to innovators that is critical in determining the safety of their products. That data can then serve as compelling evidence to potential pilot partners, investors, and customers.
Key Project Members
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
Build Momentum (d.b.a. Momentum)
California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures
University of California, Office of the President