For Moonshot concepts and Innovation Pilot proposals, we do not have a deadline. Funding open source innovation in energy access is what EnAccess does full-time! Occasionally you may notice that we ask for proposals for certain types of projects or in certain locations, and those will usually be more deadline-driven. But generally speaking, we want to hear your ideas anytime.
Our projects address either challenges or high potential opportunities that are shared across the industry. Our ongoing call for proposals divides the types of projects into two categories (explained below), and occasionally we may also put out a specific call for proposals, focusing on one sort of idea or one location in the world.
For our ongoing work, we look for what we broadly consider to be “Building Blocks” and we can fund projects at Concept or Pilot stages. The type of funding is laid out clearly on the submission page, but here’s a bit more information.
Innovation Pilot projects create shared solutions for problems that are commonly faced across the industry. As an example: mini-grid companies need to design and estimate the costs of a distribution network for potential project sites. While some companies have an in-house team and/or tool to address this need, no such network design tool exists on a freely accessible and open source basis. This means that new or upcoming mini-grid companies will have to spend time and resources figuring out this aspect of their operations. While being able to design and cost a distribution network is a critical part of becoming a commercially viable mini-grid company, it’s not the source of sustainable competitive advantage. In this sense, this shared challenge could be easily addressed by an open source tool. An open source network design tool would be what we’d call a sector “Building Block”. All developers could download the tool, adapt it to their needs, and start using it in their operations.
Moonshot concepts research high potential opportunities that might inspire new thinking in the industry. Whereas Innovations Pilots are usually quite defined, working on a new concept could be open ended and highly uncertain. We don’t always know how these projects will turn out, but are happy to take risks on ideas that we find promising. One example might be a series of discussions that explore opportunities to harness artificial intelligence (AI) in energy access. The results of this kind of exploration could be a whitepaper describing an innovation roadmap for the industry, a research webinar, a concept note for a new organization, or a prototype tool analyzing data from various organizations.
Whether your project is big or small, concretely defined or exploratory, and has to do with either commercial or technology development, we can support it. We are looking for radical ideas that can push new thinking or bring efficiencies to the industry. To learn more about our selection process and criteria, see “How do you select projects to fund?”.
Innovations with potential to have significant impact in terms of accelerating energy access at sectoral level delivered through good value for money have higher chances to be funded vs proposals with a large budget and uncertainty in its impact.
In terms of specific selection criteria, we review several factors.
1. Demonstrated market need and/or appetite
2. Evidence-based theory of change
3. Logical framework foundation
4. Potential for sector-building impact
5. Innovative content
6. Open Source
7. Capacity of the partner to deliver
8. Quality of the project plan and budget
9. Project-specific risks
As a heads up, the rigor of our selection process adjusts with the amount of funding being requested.
If for some reason you can’t answer the question, please explain why in the space provided.
Applicants can submit any additional documents (eg. pitch deck, presentations) in an additional section of the online application form.
Applications are being reviewed on a first come first serve basis. Following the submission of the proposal, our pre-eval team screens the proposal on key evaluation criteria and scores its scope and potential to impact the sector. The Pre-eval team will also reach out to applicants for any clarification or additional information requirement before the proposal is forwarded to the evaluation committee for a final decision. Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email with a final decision within 2-3 weeks of EnAccess receiving the application. Any delay in the decision process due to insufficient or need for additional information will be communicated to applicants on a regular basis through email.
The final deliverables along with milestones for each grant funding is discussed and agreed before moving the proposal to the EnAccess Board for evaluation.
Once the project is selected, a contract will be developed in accordance with EnAccess standard contracting procedure and policies. Contract will include the detailed budget, implementation plan, milestones and deliverables and any project-specific reporting requirements. After the grant contract is signed, the implementation of the project will commence immediately.
For every funded project, we create a shared working folder (e.g. on Dropbox or Google Drive) so that we can follow progress in real-time. Instead of written reports, we check in monthly to discuss the project. These calls are held at a technical level; we want to learn about what’s going on, what’s going well, what’s hard, what you are learning, how things could be better, and how we can help. These conversations are recorded so that we can refer back to them when finalizing the project (Note: We don’t publish these recordings). These calls and the deliverables that are provided throughout the project form the basis of our reporting.
We work with startups and established companies, non-profits, individual innovators, investors, and researchers. During our screening, we’ll ask questions to assess applicants/ organizations capacity to deliver the project.
Yes. We’re a small team; please consider this if making multiple submissions.
Yes. We will contract with one “lead” entity, but you are free to collaborate with partners.
Our work has been generously funded by the Mott Foundation. The amount of projects we can fund each year honestly depends on a wide range of factors; we don’t have a set amount of projects that must get funded in a certain time frame.
The best place to check any open vacancies is our LinkedIn page. But even if you don’t see anything there - always feel free to reach out and let us know why you should work with us.