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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
OIE Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

California Clean Energy Fund


San Francisco, CA

Project Name

California Clean Energy TRACTION Fund Implementation Project


Seed Fund Support

Award Amount


Through the Seed Fund Support Grant from the Department of Commerce, the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) will launch and scale a $30-million-cluster-based seed fund to invest in clean energy startups with a potential for high growth. The new TRACTION Fund will specifically target entrepreneurs that are from disadvantaged communities, underrepresented populations, or are veterans.

CalCEF’s TRACTION Fund will make equity-based investments in early-stage clean energy companies selected from approximately 100 Awardees that come out of the $33 million California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) Initiative. CalSEED is funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and managed by CalCEF to support early stage entrepreneurial companies with grants of $150,000 and $450,000. CalCEF’s TRACTION Fund will provide critical funding for entrepreneurs to prove the feasibility of new energy concepts at a stage of development that is typically ignored by investors. In effect, TRACTION Fund will bridge the “valley of death” in the funding landscape and become the “first money in” in the best-and-brightest companies in the CalSEED grant program.

Participating companies will benefit from immersion in additional incubation and acceleration support through already-funded agreements with The Cleantech Open, Energy Excelerator, UC Davis, UC San Diego, Berkeley Lab and Grant Farm. This will move companies and technologies quickly from research and development to commercialization activities that support California — and the United States — in meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) targets and clean energy goals.

CalCEF’s TRACTION Fund will dramatically expand the market for clean energy while building local businesses in California. By engaging and reaching out to budding entrepreneurs from underrepresented and veteran communities, the fund will support both innovative technologies and new business models.

CalCEF connects money to investments, ideas to support and, issues that drive solutions. CalCEF works across the entire lifecycle of clean energy development, commercialization and deployment. Since our founding in 2004, CalCEF’s work has leveraged $1.5 billion in investment, supported over a 100 clean energy enterprises and launched industry leading centers for solution collaboration.