Grid Catalyst has launched the application for its first startup cohort, which will work with Minnesota partners to demonstrate emerging technology in 2022. The application deadline is 10:00 PM CST on November 5, 2021.
Seeking Late-Stage Startups for the Cohort
We are looking for late-stage startup businesses that have a working prototype or have already initiated demonstration or commercialization projects that will benefit from a higher visibility installation and from participation in our accelerator program. Selected startups will be matched with a major utility, business, higher education campus, community, or nonprofit from our Innovators Network, who will serve as their host partner for the project development.
Resources are available to assist with the application process. Review the application instructions or application FAQ. Both will be updated, as needed, throughout the application process. Or register for information sessions.
Cohort Program Benefits
Cohort members will also be provided with the following support and services as part of the cohort program:
- Visibility for your business throughout the program, including multi-channel storytelling and media campaigns for key program and project milestones, and connection to the Grid Catalyst and Clean Energy Economy Minnesota networks.
- Facilitation support for project implementation, including navigating the initial exploratory phase with host partners, advisory support during the planning phase, assistance with developing a project monitoring and data collection approach, and developing post-implementation growth and marketing strategies.
- Connection to a pool of mentors with experience in entrepreneurship, starting and managing a business, leading and operating energy businesses, investing, financial management, manufacturing and assembly, trade, workforce development, and marketing and communications.
- Opportunities to connect with and pitch to investors.
- Connection and collaboration with other innovators and entrepreneurs in clean energy and climate tech.
- Cohort members will not receive stipends for participation, but funds will be offered to advance project implementation. Funding will be determined by the type of technology and scale and scope of the project.
For this cohort, we are only accepting late-stage startups that meet these qualifications:
- Have a solution that can be implemented in a demonstration project in 2022.
- Can legally demonstrate and manage a project in Minnesota.
- Is an incorporated entity that carries business insurance.
- Has the appropriate licensure and status to conduct business in Minnesota.
- Will be able to manage the travel and onsite project management requirements to oversee project implementation in MInnesota. Grid Catalyst will help startups identify accommodations for those traveling from out-of-state.
- We are not considering projects in other states or countries for this round of programming.
- Has secured any necessary patents for their solution or is in the process of securing patents, if applicable.
- If the solution is a product or technology (rather than a service), there must be a working prototype. Future cohorts will consider earlier stage ventures.
Application Process and Cohort Timeline
- Applications open October 4
- Launch event October 12
- Applications close November 5
- First and second round screening of candidates
- Technical and financial review and interviews with screening committees
- Grid Catalyst program managers will begin the matchmaking discussions between finalists and the Innovators Network to determine fit for demonstration projects.
*Final cohort selection is dependent on finding a project host for 2022 implementation. This may require additional due diligence that could affect the program schedule provided here.
- Cohort members will be notified of their status
- Public announcement of cohort selection
Q1 2022 – Initial planning and development conversations with project host and program partners
Q2 2022 – Project implementation initiated, including necessary activities for permitting, regulatory requirements, and detailed engineering
Q3 2022 – Project installation and construction, as needed
Q4 2022 – Finalize project installation and proceed with commissioning and data collection activities
End of 2022 – Startups advance from the cohort program and are asked to consider serving as program mentors for future programs
Key Selection Criteria
- How unique is your value proposition, and how does it compare to other market offerings?
- When implemented, what potential impact will your solution have in addressing carbon and climate change, creating a more equitable and just energy system, and bolstering local communities, regional economics, and workforce development?
- Equity and Access
- We are seeking startups with diverse founders and representation on their leadership team, recognizing that these startups have unique needs and opportunities, and have historically been underrepresented and under-resourced in the startup and energy communities. To address climate change and create a more equitable energy system, it’s essential that we create pathways for diverse founders to bring their ideas and solutions to the market.
- We are establishing a new methodology for accelerating clean energy solutions, so it is important that our team has a rigorous process to establish technical and financial viability for our startups. However, we know that the scientific process, product and business development, and demonstration will have failures on their way to success. This work will be done with great intention to balance these dynamics and put projects on their best path to reliable implementation.
- Matchmaking with Innovators Network
- The Innovators Network was built in advance of the cohort application process so we could purposefully recruit for technologies and solutions that fit the priorities of our partners. If a technology or solution shows promise but is not an automatic fit with a current program host, we will still work with that startup to explore other ways to advance their development.
Selection Preference for Diverse Founders
Grid Catalyst seeks to be a transformative program that uses its resources and capabilities to elevate startups with both unique needs and unique ideas. As part of this commitment, we are prioritizing diverse founders in our application process and encouraging late-stage startups led by people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ to apply. We will also be developing additional programming and resources for diverse founders beyond this demonstration cohort, so invite these leaders to reach out to our program staff to discuss how we might work together to develop your clean energy or climate tech idea or solution.
If you aren’t sure whether you qualify, or just want to learn more about our program, please consider attending one of our program information sessions. We encourage innovators at any stage to attend the session and learn more about the accelerator platform and experience, as well as future plans to work more with earlier stage ventures.
Session #1 (October 8): 1:00 PM – Register
Session #2 (October 13): 8:30 AM – Register
Session #3 (October 19): 2:00 PM – Register
Additionally, prospective applicants and founders can reach out to Nina Axelson to schedule a 30-minute informational interview about the program and future plans for developing our clean energy innovation hub. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule and learn more.
Program Terms and Conditions
- Grid Catalyst is a program of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation.
- Companies selected for the program will be asked to sign a memorandum of understanding with CEEM defining the terms of engagement and expectations for the program, including confidentiality, participation, due diligence, transparency, and communication.
- Cohort members are not required to headquarter in Minnesota, but projects are required to be demonstrated in Minnesota for this cohort. Cohort members will be responsible for accurately representing their capability to do business in Minnesota, including obtaining necessary permits.
- Cohort members will not receive direct compensation for participating in the program.
- Neither CEEM, nor Grid Catalyst, nor their staff will have rights to or receive any stake in the cohort members participating in the program. This is not an equity or investment-based program. Cohort member will be eligible to solicit investments from other program partners.
- Cohort members will receive training in communicating their role in the program, and how to reference the partnership with Grid Catalyst, CEEM, project hosts, and program funders. It is expected that cohort members adhere strictly to these guidelines.
- Cohort members will not receive compensation for applying to, or participating in, the program, regardless of selection status.
- There is no fee for applying to the program, however, applicants may need to consider the resources and capacity to participate in the development of their demonstration project.