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What is Cleantech to Market (C2M)?

C2M–the First Cleantech Accelerator–first identifies promising cleantech from: (1) existing startups, (2) accelerators & incubators such as Activate’s Cyclotron Road, Cleantech Open, and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, (3) government-sponsored programs such as CalSEED and ARPA-E, funded by the California Energy Commission and the Department of Energy, and (4) top-tier universities and national labs such as UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Stanford, Caltech, Princeton & MIT.

How does C2M work?

C2M first selects a cohort of innovations that have strong potential for cleantech commercialization. C2M then hand selects commercialization teams comprising top UC Berkeley graduate students from over 20 programs, including business, engineering, science, law, policy, and the Energy and Resources Group. C2M supports the teams with professionals who bring deep subject matter expertise (e.g., renewable energy, clean water, green chemistry, early-stage venture development). These professionals guide the students as speakers, mentors and key contacts (each team interviews approximately 40 relevant industry contacts). Brian Steel, Bev Alexander, and Bill Shelander lead the C2M process, contributing a combined 100+ years of experience in cleantech, innovation and entrepreneurship.

If my project is selected, what will I receive?

Each project receives approximately 1,000 hours of free commercialization assessment. Your C2M team will prepare a 100-page, in-depth commercialization study of your innovation and recommended pathways to market along with related presentation slides. Both are finalized in December, and you may use them for any purpose including grant applications and discussions with investors. Your team will present their findings and recommendations at C2M’s annual symposium. In addition to showcasing your innovation within the C2M network, founders have valued the rare opportunity to see someone else present their technology. This lets them “stand in the shoes of an investor” and gain a more objective view of their own endeavors. View 2019 projects, 2018 projects, and 2017 projects.

How will this help commercialize my technology?

Investors review hundreds and even thousands of innovations before they select the few that they fund. In the process, they ask questions such as: Who will buy this? How much will they pay? Does it meet customer needs better than competitors? Is there a “pain point” likely to increase sales rapidly? Will manufacturing challenges or switching costs inhibit adoption? What market will you target first? Will regulations and other trends accelerate or derail your product? C2M will explore these and many other questions in depth for you if you are selected.

Why do entrepreneurs and researchers find C2M valuable?

Innovators value C2M’s help with technology positioning, target market assessment, customer needs identification, business model brainstorming, funding ideas, cost–performance tradeoff insights, and deep market research that can be used with potential partners and investors.

A recent C2M study offered 9 years of cohorts the chance to describe—in their own words—what C2M’s value meant to their startups. Here are some of their quotes:

  • “We received an SBIR grant thanks in large part to the incredible work of our C2M team! We are constantly using the market research we received from C2M.”
  • “C2M stands out. While other accelerators simply tell you what should be done given infinite resources, C2M actually works cooperatively to help achieve those goals. Really valuable market research – overall top notch.”
  • “We have a small, full-time staff mostly dedicated to developing the technology. Without C2M we wouldn’t be nearly as prepared as we are now.”
  • “They did a superb job in terms of technology positioning, market analysis, and business proposition. Bottom line: excellent work.”
  • “They came up with appropriate business models we thought made sense. I was impressed with how quickly they came up to speed.”
  • “We asked: ‘What markets best leverage the benefits of our system?’ and ‘Should we be pushing efficiency or cost?’ The answers were exactly what we needed.”
  • “They found interesting and unexpected applications for our technology. The students thought about things that hadn’t occurred to us before.”
  • “It is helpful to have cost and materials data from a market perspective as compared to a prototype perspective.”
  • “I am constantly using C2M documents when working with partners and investors. The program is extremely helpful.”

Why do technology transfer offices find C2M valuable?

“We applaud your outstanding record of producing a steady stream of successes! The C2M program provides campus researchers with information and insights on the critical questions to address to move projects closer to commercial relevance, and in-depth market analyses that inform and catalyze industry investments. Several startup companies have emerged from C2M activities, so you are an economic driver of the region as well. C2M occupies a vital niche in the continuum from basic research to commercial products and services — thank you for your sustained dedication and leadership.” — Carol Mimura, Assistant Vice Chancellor, IP & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), UC Berkeley

What impact has the C2M program had over time?

Will my work be treated confidentially?

  • Application: C2M’s review committee does not sign NDAs for the applications, so your submitted material should be specific enough to evaluate, but general enough to protect your intellectual property.
  • C2M Course: However, each team in C2M will sign NDAs for their technology, so please expect to share confidential information with C2M’s graduate student teams to facilitate their deep technology and market research.
  • Slides: C2M will sponsor an all-day public symposium to showcase the projects in its annual cohort. You will review draft slides, and we encourage you to attend the symposium so you can meet and talk with industry participants.
  • Report: If necessary or desired, C2M will create two versions of your commercialization study to redact confidential information before a limited distribution to C2M partners and sponsors.

How does C2M’s cohort selection process work?

The cohort selection committee will include faculty, tech transfer staff, potential investors, and industry partners (see C2M Sponsors and Partners). Out of the whole application pool, C2M’s committees will choose approximately 10 cohort semifinalists, based upon the strength of their potential for commercialization and their relevance to C2M’s program parameters. From this group of semifinalists, the graduate students will select the final 6-8 projects for C2M’s annual cohort.

What startups have worked with C2M in prior cohorts?

CalWave, CinderBio, Connora Technologies, Dauntless IO, Feasible, GreenBlu, Grow Plastics, Heliotrope Technologies, Imprint Energy, Indoor Reality, Lucent Optics, MICROrganic, Mosaic Materials, Nelumbo, Opus 12, Packetized Energy, Sepion Technologies, Spark Thermionics, Sunvapor, Tierra Biosciences (formerly Synvitrobio), Treau, and many more.

What is the timeline?

Do I have obligations if my technology is selected?

Before the fall semester starts in late August, you will work with the leader of your team to prepare an information package for your C2M team. During the semester you, or someone who knows your technology and related activities well, must be available for a minimum of one hour of weekly Q&A (more can be to your benefit), as well as be responsive to ad-hoc inquiries from the team. Some innovators form a much more involved working relationship with their teams and choose to spend more time with them. Towards the end of the semester, you will review the draft slides for C2M’s public symposium, and we encourage you to attend so that you may meet industry participants interested in your work. In early December, you will meet with your C2M team to debrief their findings, and you may redact sensitive information from your commercialization study before a limited distribution to C2M’s sponsors.

What roles do C2M Partners and Sponsors play?

C2M Sponsors and Partners share our vision of helping translate early-stage cleantech into successful startups. As a result, they help with project selection, team mentoring, financial support, and introductions to leading industry experts. In some cases, we share redacted versions of our commercialization studies to thank them for their support.