• Who is eligible to apply?

    Projects must have disclosed their invention to one of the 6 partner institutions (Brookhaven National Lab, Cornell NYC Tech, Columbia University, CUNY, NYU, or Stony Brook). You do not need to have been issued or even applied for a patent, but the invention must be disclosed before a pre-proposal application is submitted.

    The funds are not for basic research, so projects should be proposing to build a commercial prototype and/or conduct in-field testing. Technologies should be around TRL 3-4 (bench-scale prototype) in order to apply.

    Technologies must have a cleantech application. Areas of interest include but are not limited to energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture, water efficiency, and pollution remediation.

    Finally, applicants must have someone at one of the partner institutions who is eligible to serve as a PI, as the grant funds will flow to that person at one of the partner institutions. Funds will not be supplied directly to a startup, though up to 1/3 of the project budget is allowed to be subcontracted to a startup.

    If you are unsure if you meet all of the eligibility requirements, we recommend you submit the brief Idea Grant application by September 16th, 2016. The PowerBridgeNY team will review your application and have a 15-minute conversation with your team to determine if you are a good fit for the program. Those that are encouraged to apply and submit a pre-proposal application will receive a $1,000 Visa gift card.

  • What kinds of projects are funded?

    Any technology or innovation that saves energy by increasing energy efficiency or reducing energy demand, or one that produces renewable energy is eligible for funding. You can see a list of all the awarded projects here.

  • How much funding is available for what period of time?

    Awards are up to $150,000, including up to a 35% indirect cost rate. There is no predetermined cap on the number of awards available, but 6-8 per year are expected. Project plans for awardees are expected to be approximately 12 months long but should be predominantly driven by the milestones.

    Funding will be released in tranches based upon the completion of both business and technical milestones. An initial tranche of funding will be released at the time of award, assuming the team has attended the PowerBridgeNY Bootcamp and met any prerequisites outlined in the full proposal. Funds will be withheld until all prerequisites are completed.

    Additional tranches will be released contingent upon the teams completing some of their business and technical milestones in addition to delivering their quarterly report in a timely fashion. The funds will be released in a total of 4 tranches with the first 3 tranches being approximately 30% of the budget each and the last tranche being approximately 10%.

  • What can project funds be used for?

    Funds cannot be used for tuition, marketing, intellectual property, or legal expenses. Subcontracts are allowed, but not in excess of 1/3 the total project budget. Capital expenditures cannot exceed $25,000 for a single piece of equipment. Allowable items include conference fees, travel for customer discovery, materials required for prototype construction, consultants (subcontracts), and graduate salaries.

    Projects funded with a Validation Grant have the option to apply for an additional $50K in Ignition Grant. These funds are meant to be used by the startup created during the Validation Grant phase in order to pay for such expenses as office space, legal expenses, and marketing materials. A team that receives Ignition Funding is allowed to reimburse itself for these kinds of expenses that were incurred during the Validation Grant process but were not allowed to be charged to the grant (e.g. incorporation fees).

  • What do I have to do to apply?

    There are two ways to apply to PowerBridgeNY: Idea Grants and the pre-proposal.

    Idea Grants

    If you have not previously applied to PowerBridgeNY, you have the option of applying for a $1,000 Idea Grant. The 1-page applications are accepted on a rolling basis but are due no later than September 16th. After the form has been submitted, the team will have a 15-minute conversation with the PBNY team about to potential project. The interview will also be a chance for the team to ask questions about the program. At the end of the call, the PBNY team will recommend whether or not the project is s suitable application. Teams encouraged to submit must submit their pre-proposal application by October 7th in order to receive their $1,000 gift card.

    The Idea Grant stage is a great opportunity for researchers who have not previously applied their technology to the cleantech field to explore opportunities within the field. Teams are encouraged to brainstorm different potential applications for their technologies and submit as many idea grant applications as they would like. Teams are allowed to submit as many invited pre-proposal applications as they would like, and they will receive gift cards for each application. However, only one application per PI will be allowed to move forward to the full proposal stage. 


    All eligible applicants are able to submit a pre-proposal, even if they have not gone through the Idea Grant process. In order to submit a pre-proposal application, you MUST have filed a relevant invention disclosure with your home institution’s technology transfer office. If you do not know how to do this or do not know your tracking number, please contact your technology transfer office. Teams must also have identified their Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) at the time of submitting the pre-proposal application. This person can be a graduate/post-doc student in the lab who has no prior entrepreneurial experience. The EL will be responsible for completing the customer interviews and business milestones. Should a startup be formed around the technology, the EL should want to play a large role in the startup to continue driving commercialization efforts outside of the lab.

  • Can I apply with more than 1 project?

    A PI may submit as many Idea grant and invited pre-proposal applications as desired. However, should more than one pre-proposal score high enough to move forward to the full proposal round, the PI will be asked to select one project to move forward with. The PI will be provided with all the comments from the Judges in order to help decide.

  • How will my project be evaluated?

    For the pre-proposal, the Judges will look mainly at the market potential of your technology, though some technical considerations may be taken into account as well. Should your team be invited to submit a full proposal, the Judges will again consider the market potential but will also evaluate the team, the technical milestones, and intellectual property status. IP reviews will be conducted by an external law firm and provided to the Judges for their consideration during the review meetings.

  • Does PowerBridgeNY expect equity in the startup or repayment of the funds?

    Validation Grant funding provided by PowerBridgeNY is not a loan or an equity investment, and the partner institutions expect no participation in the economic success of funded projects in exchange for these grants.  The 3-5 year ROI is measured against two criteria:  1) the number of projects which result in a license to an established company with sufficient resources for effective commercialization, and 2) the number of projects which result in a license to a venture capital-backed start-up company.  

  • If awarded, what kind of support can I expect?

    Funded teams can expect to work very closely with a commercialization team comprised of experts and advisors in intellectual property, business development, technology development, regulatory matters, venture formation and incubation, licensing, and strategic partnering.  Teams should also expect close oversight and monitoring of project performance to help identify issues and obstacles early on. PowerBridgeNY will also host a series of educational and networking events in order to help teams achieve their business milestones.

  • What are your team's responsibilities if your project is funded?

    Funded teams are expected to report quarterly on progress toward technical and business milestones.  Additionally, monthly check-ins and cooperation with technology transfer and marketing-related activities are required.  Funded teams are also expected to actively work with their Mentors approximately 5-10 hours per month. It is the team’s responsibility to ensure they are using their Mentor(s) in the best possible way.

    Entrepreneurial Leads should expect to spend approximately 5-10 hours per week conducting customer interviews and working on the business milestones. In total, the team must complete 100 customer interviews before the end of their project (approximately 10-15 interviews per month). The EL may also be asked to represent the team at demo days, pitch events, interviews, or in other situations.

  • I applied in a previous round but my application was not selected. Can I apply again?

    Yes. You can submit an application for any future rounds.  However, you should make sure to address any and all comments you may have received from the review of your previous submission. PowerBridgeNY will also put you on the mailing list and invite your team to educational and networking events in order to learn skills that will aid you in future Cycles. 

  • Have the universities been successful in commercializing technologies in the past?

    Both of the lead institutions (Columbia and NYU) have had much success in commercializing technologies coming from their researchers.

    Columbia University is considered to have one of the most experienced and successful technology transfer offices in the world. Since it was founded nearly 30 years ago, Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) has managed more than 4,000 inventions and 1,800 patents and executed more than 500 licenses. These activities are supported by CTV’s 45+ staff members, $10M+ in annual investment in patent prosecution, three full-time, in-house patent attorneys and more than a dozen active outside patent counsel. Each year, CTV manages, on average, approximately 300 new inventions from Columbia inventors; files over 250 patent applications; executes 50 to 70 license agreements, and launches 15 new companies.

    NYU ranks first among U.S. research universities in overall license income over the past five years and significantly above the national average in most measures of technology transfer 25 activity per research dollar expended: double the number of patents, 23 percent above the national average in new licenses signed, and 40 percent above the national average in startups created. Each year, the Office of Industrial Liaison (OIL) employs its 11 staff members and $3.9 million budget to generate 8-12 licenses and 2-5 start-ups per year. In total, OIL has helped create 67 companies based on NYU technologies both in the biosciences and the physical sciences and from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

  • I still have questions. Who can I talk to?

    Please reach out to the Operations Manager Julia Byrd (julia.byrd@powerbridgeny.com) at any time.

  • What if your application is not selected?

    For those teams whose projects are not selected, the Judges will provide feedback so that they can address the deficiencies and re-submit an application in the next funding cycle, should they wish to do so.  Also, projects which are not funded by PowerBridge NY may be eligible or appropriate for other funding and technology development resources. All the team members and PIs of former applicants will be invited to attend PowerBridge NY networking and development events, including bootcamps, at no cost.    

  • My project was funded but I may need additional funding to achieve additional technical milestones that the market is demanding. Can I apply for additional funding?

    If you received an award from PowerBridge NY in previous years, you may be eligible to apply for additional funding to support your project.  Such additional funding is contingent on successful achievement of your previous milestones and demonstration of compelling market feedback requiring additional technical development, among other factors.  To explore further, please contact your Campus Representative.   

Application Materials

Application Process

  • Our Wiki contains information on the overall application and judging process for the Validation Grants as well as more information about PowerBridgeNY in general.

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