green investment

CSIT Announces $1.5M Round 2 of Clean Tech Seed Grant Pilot Program

Latest Funding Round Will Make up to $75,000 Available to Companies Furthering Clean Tech R&D in NJ

The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology (CSIT) will launch a $1.5 million Round 2 of its Clean Tech Seed Grant Pilot Program later this month. Funding awarded through the program helps accelerate development and innovation of clean technologies by furthering research and development (R&D) within the state’s clean technology startup community. CSIT developed the program in coordination with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The application will be available at http://www.njeda.com/csit beginning on Jan. 24.

The Clean Tech Seed Grant Pilot Program provides grants for R&D activities to very early-stage, New Jersey-based clean technology companies. These grants will help clean technology-focused businesses continue their work toward the proof of concept and prototyping stages, at which point they can more readily attract outside investors and, in some cases, begin to generate revenue. Specifically, the program will fund projects that are developing or testing clean technologies intended to recapture or avoid emissions of greenhouse gases and/or criteria pollutants, or to enable such avoidance or recapture. The following technology areas are eligible under the program: Chemicals/Advance Materials, Energy Distribution/Storage, Energy Efficiency, Energy Generation, Green Buildings, Transportation, Waste Processing, and Water and Agriculture.

This latest round offers double the amount of funding that was available in the initial round of the Clean Tech Seed Grant Pilot Program. CSIT awarded a total of nearly $750,000 to 10 companies statewide through the program’s first round last year.

“Startups within New Jersey’s clean technology industry are impacting the world in immeasurable ways,” said CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft. “During the last round, we received applications from a broad range of companies throughout this crucial sector and we look forward to supporting even more young companies as they work toward commercialization and enter the global marketplace.”

CSIT will host an informational webinar, including a walk-through of the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program – Round 2 application, on Jan. 26. Registration information can be found here. A recorded version of the webinar and copy of materials presented will be made available on the CSIT webpage following the event.

Applications can be submitted starting on Jan. 24 at 10:00 a.m. and will be accepted through Mar. 21 at 5:00 p.m. Similar to the inaugural round of the program, qualified applicants can receive up to $75,000 in grants through Round 2 Clean Tech Seed Grant Pilot Program. The funding is being provided through NJBPU’s Clean Energy Program.

“NJBPU is proud to work with our partners at CSIT and the NJEDA to place money into the hands of the small businesses statewide helping to pave the way toward a clean energy future,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “By providing this very early-stage funding, we are setting the foundation for these companies to flourish in the Garden State and to help us meet Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.”

All applicants for the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program should be between a minimum technology development level of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 (applied research) and maximum of TRL 7 (full-scale, similar (prototypical) system demonstrated in relevant environment), based on the Department of Energy definitions. Applicants should use the tool included in the Technical Proposal attachment on the application portal to determine TRL score.

Additional eligibility criteria require that applicants:

  • Be authorized and in good standing to conduct business in New Jersey as evidenced by a New Jersey current New Jersey tax clearance certificate;
  • Have a minimum of one full-time equivalent employee (working 35 hrs. per week) including founders, with at least one employee working 50% of their time on the project being proposed;
  • Have 50 percent or more of the work of its employees, including founders and contractors conducted in NJ (calculated on a full-time equivalent basis – 35 hours per week);
  • Have 50 percent or more of employees including founders/contractors live or pay withholding taxes in NJ;
  • Have less than two million dollars ($2,000,000) in prior third-party funding over its lifetime (excluding government grants);
  • Have less than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) in previous calendar year sales revenue.

Applications from businesses located in an Opportunity Zone-eligible census tract, minority- or woman-owned businesses or businesses with technology coming out of New Jersey universities are all eligible for bonus points with respect to the scoring criteria. At least one award will be reserved for an applicant that is a women-owned company as certified by the state of NJ and one award will be reserved for an applicant that is minority-owned as certified by the state of NJ.

Seventy percent of the awardees in the first round of the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program were businesses located in an Opportunity Zone-eligible census tract, minority- or woman-owned businesses, and/or businesses with technology coming out of New Jersey universities.

“Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, the state is taking a whole-of-government approach to creating an equitable green economy as we work toward his goal of making New Jersey 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Our robust suite of programs positions us to cultivate the growing number of clean technology companies within our state.”

In addition to the Clean Tech Seed Grant Program, Sullivan also cited New Jersey’s forthcoming Green Fund, the New Jersey Zero-Emission Incentive Program (NJZIP), and the Clean Tech R&D Voucher Program as initiatives designed to support early-stage companies in the clean technology sector.

In January 2020, Governor Murphy unveiled the state’s Energy Master Plan, which outlines key strategies to reach the Administration’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. In May 2018, Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 28 directed the NJBPU, in partnership with other state agencies, to develop this statewide clean energy plan and shift away from energy production that contributes to climate change. The Energy Master Plan laid out ways to fuel the clean technology economy through workforce training, investments in developing clean energy knowledge, and the growth of world-class R&D.

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