California Test Bed Initiative

California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures

Recipient

Oakland, CA

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

18th

Assembly District

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$7,588,004

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2023, the third cohort of 17 CalTestBed voucher recipients initiated third-party testing of their innovative clean energy prototypes. The diverse cohort was composed of companies covering nine technology categories including battery storage, wildfire detection, and smart circuit management. In 2023, 41% of the voucher recipients were designated as minority and/or women-owned businesses. They were approved for $4.6M in testing vouchers.

Since the start of the program, over 50 entrepreneurs have been awarded vouchers worth over $13.5M (including UC match) for third party testing. The latest reports show that awardees from all three cohorts have made significant strides, securing over $416M in follow-on funding and generating over 300 new jobs. The employment opportunities included roles within the research facilities and growth within the awarded start-ups. The CEC funding has enabled continuous program improvement, such as streamlining contracting and program administration across all participating campuses.

The remarkable achievements of the program have been recognized with the prestigious 2021 Federal Lab Consortium Award for Outstanding Partnership. This award was bestowed upon the program for its exceptional public-private partnership initiative, which was specifically designed to accelerate the development of clean energy innovations, enhance their commercialization prospects, and facilitate streamlined access to the clean energy testbed ecosystem in California.

In 2024, the onboarding of the fourth and final cohort of this current CalTestBed renewal will be finalized, and an announcement of the new round of voucher recipients will be made.

The Issue

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.

Project Innovation

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 to provide the data they need to refine their innovation to meet customer specifications. In its fourth year of operation, this project has more than doubled the initial network of 29 testing facilities to more than 70 located at nine University of California campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The implementation team intends to continue to grow this network should there be another renewal of the program. This robust network connects testing facilities throughout California in order to serve clean energy start-ups more efficiently and effectively, and the structure for cross-campus collaboration and public-private partnerships has been identified as a best practice that could be replicated across other sectors, such as healthcare. The CalTestBed team continues to build a national network of Next Level Partners including investors, pilot/demonstration partners, government agencies and other accelerator programs that can provide further support to voucher recipients as they complete their testing and progress closer to commercialization. These next level partners are convened during the national CalTestBed symposium intended to provide voucher recipients with exposure and connection to opportunities.

Project Goals

Design agreement structure for public-private partnership enabling voucher recipients access to world-class testing.
Implement a selection process that ensures high-quality, geographically diverse, EPIC-aligned recommended applicants.
Cultivate a network of partners to connect with voucher recipients to help accelerate them towards commercialization.
Host symposium featuring voucher recipients, lab partners, and industry leaders to foster connection and partnerships.
Publish a Facilities Directory and an Entrepreneur Directory to highlight voucher recipients and laboratory capabilities.

Project Benefits

CalTestBed will accelerate new, clean, energy-efficient technologies to market and, as a result, help voucher recipients 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 California through increased reliability, lower costs, and greater safety. CalTestBed is implemented with the intention of 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 70 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.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

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.

Economic Development

Economic Development

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.

Increase Safety

Safety

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

Rachel Yu

Rachel Yu

Senior Program Manager
New Energy Nexus
Kayleen Araullo

Kayleen Araullo

Program Associate
New Energy Nexus

Subrecipients

Rocket

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator

Rocket

Build Momentum (d.b.a. Momentum)

Rocket

Match Partners

Rocket

California Clean Energy Fund dba CalCEF Ventures

Rocket

University of California, Office of the President

Rocket

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