Funding Opportunity

RTA Seed Innovation Grant


The Renewable Thermal Alliance (RTA) is pleased to announce the new RTA Seed Innovation Grant.

Awarded every fall, the goal of this grant is to advance the vision and mission of the RTA1 by supporting innovations that build market platforms for low-carbon heating and cooling technologies.

This Innovation Grant, which will provide cash totaling $80,000 in 2018, was created with the generous support of NYSERDA and Connecticut Green Bank; it is managed by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.


[1] The RTA’s mission is to: catalyze and scale a regional market for renewable heating and cooling through provision of an independent non-profit market-building platform for financing solutions.

Opportunities and challenges in renewable heating and cooling

The majority of countries acknowledge climate change as one of the biggest challenges of our time and, in response, most countries signed the Paris Agreement in 2015.2 The same concern is present in much of the business world. The electricity sector, for instance, which represents 20 percent of total final energy consumption worldwide, has made rapid progress increasing its use of renewable technologies. But the same cannot be said of heating and cooling.3

Heating and cooling in the U.S. accounted respectively for 65 percent and 24 percent of energy delivered to residential and commercial customers in 2015 (EIA AEO 2017). This sector is also based predominantly on the use of fossil fuels; the share of renewable energy in the U.S. heating sector is less than 10 percent.4 Without a substantial increase in the penetration of renewables in heating and cooling, U.S. states and cities are unlikely to achieve local goals of reduced carbon emissions.  Unfavorable economics, low public awareness, lack of affordable financing, and an immature industry all restrain the sector’s potential.

As mentioned above, the RTA Seed Innovation Grant was established to advance the vision and mission of the Renewable Thermal Alliance while reducing constraints—financial or otherwise—on the sector.

[2United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -

[3] See

[4] See

Innovations we are looking for

The RTA Seed Innovation Grant seeks ideas that do some or all of the following:

  1. Stimulate new market platforms for renewable heating and cooling technologies;

  2. Address key market barriers that restrict scaling;

  3. Support new business models and financing solutions;

  4. Support social innovation that improves access for lower-income households;

  5. Promote multi-disciplinary approaches to problem-solving;

  6. Generate solutions that are scalable, quantifiable, financeable, and achievable;

  7. Stimulate activities that would not have happened otherwise;

  8. Advance the RTA vision and mission.

Examples of innovations that can be supported include, but are not limited to: the development of new business or financing models; the pre-development of multi-state research projects; the facilitation of data and best-practice sharing; the creation of new adaptation and awareness models and tools to accelerate scaling.

The RTA Seed Innovation Grant will not support lobbying, individual technology pilots, or installation demo projects.


Who is eligible

For-profit and non-profit organizations that are interested in developing innovative approaches to scale the use of renewable energy in heating and cooling are encouraged to apply.

Multi-disciplinary approaches are prioritized and applications should include at least two stakeholder categories: academia, industry, non-profit.

Student involvement is strongly encouraged.

Team members can contribute in-kind resources. Use the online application form and budget to document these contributions.



Successful proposals will meet the following criteria:

  • Intend to be implemented and finalized within one year;

  • Have deliverables that can be made publicly available;

  • Request funding not in excess of $20,000;

  • Complete and include the following documents

Grantees are required to submit biannual progress reports and a final report at the end of the agreed-upon grant period. This final report must provide findings and financial statements.

Budgets must be based on actual compensation to participants and may include up to 10% additional for payroll taxes. Billable rates that include overhead charges, fees, and/or profit are not permitted.   A table of hourly rates and expected hours committed to the project must be submitted with the project budget.

The grant money will be issued in the name of the organization stated as “project lead.” The project lead will also be the main point of contact.


When to apply

The RTA Seed Innovation Grant is open for applications September 4 – October 5, 2018. The terms of the grant may be subject to change prior to this period.

The review panel will evaluate applications in October 2018. Applicants may be asked to present their idea and answer clarifying questions from the review panel in this period.

A final decision is expected in the first half of November 2018.


Expectations for dissemination

Grantees are expected to be part of the RTA network and engage the RTA community. Additional expectations include:

  • Project profile on the RTA webpage;

  • Presentation of the project at an RTA web- or in-person meeting;

  • Acknowledgement of support from the RTA Seed Innovation Grant;

  • Deliverables (reports, datasets, etc.) made publicly available, as described by the terms and conditions of the entry form.

Grantees retain ownership of inventions created as part of the Grant and must disclose invention(s) to RTA in a timely manner. Grantees will have the rights to protect an invention (file provisional patent, copyright, etc.) for some period of time after which ownership reverts to the RTA.

Data generated as part of the grant shall be made publicly available.


Need more information?

If you have questions reach out to Helle Gronli at helle.gronli @


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