NextEnergy, MEDC Launch Michigan Accelerating Technologies Grant
On Dec. 1, the Detroit-based nonprofit NextEnergy launched the new Michigan Accelerating Technologies Energy Grant (MATch) program, a three-year initiative funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
It’s the latest tool in the state’s arsenal to help Michigan companies in the advanced energy sector compete for federal research and development dollars. A similar effort directed toward companies in the defense sector will launch in January through the Macomb-Oakland University Incubator. (More on that program in a few weeks.)
Dan Radomski, NextEnergy’s vice president of new market services, says that federal funding for advanced energy research and development has been especially robust under the Obama administration. The MATch program helps eligible companies and universities navigate the funding application process to maximize the chance of success, and will assist in finding matching funds, if required, or with commercializing advanced energy technology after it’s funded. MATch targets companies developing solar, wind energy, energy storage, advanced battery, electric vehicle, or smart grid technology.
Radomski says NextEnergy works closely with the federal government to understand research and development priorities. NextEnergy’s knowledge of Michigan’s energy tech ecosystem helps it match companies with universities already specializing in a particular technology.
“We like to make sure that what we’re supporting has great potential,” he notes. “We know the hot buttons within federal agencies; when they put out [a funding opportunity announcement], we know exactly why they’re investing in that technology. We can help a company with the right innovation put the right project together.”
Throughout the year, NextEnergy brings energy innovators together for live events and webinars to learn about federal opportunities, and it also brings various federal agency representatives to Michigan for “very specific, targeted meetings” so companies can hear why an agency is investing in a certain technology and why it’s a government priority.
“It puts them face-to-face with decision makers and gives companies a chance to advocate for themselves,” Radomski says. “It really helps drive expectations home.”
Radomski says he’s sure other states have similar programs in place, though not to the degree Michigan does. He adds that programs like MATch and the Michigan Emerging Technology Fund are vital to helping Michigan companies grow. “We’re excited to be in a position to support,” he says.
Companies can fill out an application for the MATch program at NextEnergy’s website, and Radomski recommends they do it early in the procurement process. NextEnergy’s support services are free to qualifying companies and universities.