This recorded webinar discusses NOAA's Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerators funding opportunity and provides program-specific guidance for prospective applicants.

Video Transcript | Frequently Asked Questions | Slides (PDF)

Video Transcript

00:00:04:02 - 00:02:01:19     CARL GOULDMAN

[Slide 1] Hello and thank you for joining us today. We are excited to share with you the funding opportunity around Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerators. My name is Carl Gouldman and I serve as the director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Office, commonly referred to as IOOS. This webinar is being recorded. As a result, and for your privacy, we request that all questions be held until the presentation is complete and the recording has been turned off.

I am joined today by my colleagues Zack Baize and Caitlin Young, who worked tirelessly to bring this NOFO to completion. You will be hearing more from them shortly. I also share a big thanks to Genevieve Lind as a part of this team. She is not on the webinar today.

[Slide 2] For your reference the recorded presentation, the slides and, the frequently asked questions will all be made available on the QR code on this slide here. Our purpose for gathering today is to provide you with the program specific application guidance as you consider applying for this opportunity. To that end, I'll cover some background information on NOAA and then notice the funding opportunity while Zack and Caitlin will cover information regarding the phase one and phase two applications of the awards. Then we will end the recording and together answer your questions about the process with the remaining time.

[Slide 3] So let's begin.

[Slide 4] As the Federal government's premier science agency focused on the atmosphere and ocean, NOAA likes to say that our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor. NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, ocean, and coasts to share that knowledge and information with others and to conserve and manage coastal marine ecosystems and resources. Or in shorthand. NOAA's mission is science, service and stewardship. And now I turn it over to Zack to provide you with the details about this opportunity.


00:02:01:19 - 00:06:35:02     ZACK BAIZE

[Slide 5] Thanks, Carl. The opportunity: NOAA will provide a combined total of $60 million in funding over the course of approximately five years to accelerator entities that will use that funding to develop and provide business accelerator services to startups and small businesses in multiple defined theme areas. These theme areas include ocean renewable energy; coastal and ocean based carbon sequestration, monitoring, and accounting; hazard mitigation and coastal resilience; and ecosystem service management. The goal is to promote climate resilience of the United States by addressing critical needs associated with ocean resources and coastal communities.

The method: selected accelerators will develop and implement programing to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses as they advanced technologies and sustainable business models supporting key identified theme areas related to emerging ocean and coastal related topics.

[Slide 6] And you won't be alone. NOAA will provide technical assistance and support to the accelerator entities throughout the process to ensure that the program design aligns with identified goals and objectives by providing access to NOAA network of place-based partners that are already working on products and services in the four theme areas and that can help identify market opportunities. We will also communicate opportunities to reach out to experts via website updates, feature webinars and FAQs.

We'll also be using regular and structured dialogs, workshops, and events with scientists, technologists and the accelerator entities themselves to provide a mechanism to clarify needs that address the climate resilience themes.

[Slide 7] Looking from a high level, this NOFO will be split into two phases. Phase one proposals will define an approach for scoping, planning, and designing climate resilience accelerator activities according to the defined requirements. Phase one funding. There will be up to $5 million available as part of phase one to competitively fund multiple external accelerator entities to put together their full proposals.

Phase two. For those phase one proposals that are accepted, the phase two proposals will focus on implementing the Climate Resilience Accelerator programs that were planned and designed in phase one. There will be up to $55 million awarded to accelerator entities in a negotiated release of funds to support the implementation of their climate resilience projects.

And eligibility; so who's eligible? Any U.S. based, geographically concentrated entities are eligible including for profit organizations; academic institutions; nonprofit organizations; state or local government entities, agencies or instrumentalities; Tribal governments or consortia of Tribal governments.

And submission. will provide information about submitting a proposal through the site, as well as the hours of operation.

[Slide 8] Into the timeline. The timeline for this funding will be the phase one application window, which is currently open, July 10th through September 11th, 2023, and the phase one award period is scheduled to be January 15th through October 15th of 2024. The phase two application window is currently scheduled to open February 15th and run through July 15th, 2024, with the phase two award period being December 1st, 2024 through October 31st, 2029.

[Slide 9] And the objectives. NOAA and the nation overall will benefit from this investment by establishing a network of ocean based climate resilience accelerators, by supporting those entrepreneurs and startups, by accelerating and catalyzing investment in the blue economy, by leveraging and advancing startup technologies, and by advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility in these areas.

[Slide 10] And now I'll kick it over to Caitlin to talk about implementation phase one.


00:06:35:02 - 00:15:24:11     CAITLIN YOUNG

Thanks, Zack. So let's talk a little bit more about what's entailed in each of these NOFO phases.

[Slide 11] As we talked about the focus of phase one is identifying potential accelerator entities and funding them to design the accelerator programing. So in this phase, applicants will develop proposals that, at a really high level, contain the following information, the resources that the applicants have that's in the existing and planned resources, including any climate resilience expertise that you have on staff already so that you plan to obtain during this time the resources and expertise that you propose might exist as part of your current entity, or that you're going to develop partnerships as part of your phase one award periods.

The phase one application needs to include a description of how the phase one award funds will be spent and a timeline for the development of an accelerator program design. And that should have key design milestones. The next piece that needs to be in your proposal for phase one is a plan for how the accelerator will advance diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility. And that should be both as part of your accelerator and also as part of your cohort business selection.

And then finally, you should include the impact. So you should describe the impacts, current and proposed partners role, and commitment to economic growth in the selected climate resilience theme area or areas depending on if you choose one or more.

[Slide 12] So if you want to get into the specific items required for phase one, take a look at this screen here. So what happens after your proposal is submitted? So each of the phase one proposals is going to be reviewed according to the evaluation criteria that are described in the funding announcement. The first of those criteria is the alignment of the proposed program with one or more defined themes in the opportunity.

The next area of evaluation is your strategy. So, what's your strategy and plan to establish key partnerships and processes necessary to meet the program goals? Next, you need to describe the ability and capacity to successfully execute multiple cohorts over a multi-year period of accelerator programming. You will be evaluated on the identification of impactful and appropriate funding opportunities to administer the NOAA-funded Technology Commercialization and Development awards. I'll speak more to those in just a moment.

And then finally, you'll be evaluated on the support for a cohort participant businesses in pursuing follow on funding and commercialization. And so that's going to be the period after the cohort graduates from your accelerator.

[Slide 13] So in the phase one awards, NOAA is going to be awarding up to $250,000 per awardee to support up to 15 qualified accelerator entities in scoping, planning and designing an ocean-based, climate resilience-focused accelerator program that aligns with the NOAA mission areas and addresses climate resilience themes.

As Carl noted previously, technical assistance from NOAA will be available throughout the phase one period. Zack showed you the timeline for the phase one and phase two, so you will have access technical assistance from NOAA throughout the phase one award period from January until October of 2024, and the funding announcement for the phase two will come out during that period, so you'll know exactly what NOAA is looking for in the phase two application.

[Slide 14] So now let's take a quick look at the phase two.

[Slide 15] Phase two is going to involve a subsequent request for applications that's going to be made exclusively available to phase one awardees. So you will not be eligible to apply for phase two if you have not received a phase one award. To implement the climate accelerator programs that we are planning and designing in phase one, there's going to be a process by which the phase two solicitation is released roughly one month from the start of the phase one project period starting. This is going to give awardees sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the phase two solicitation requirements and incorporate them into their phase one project execution. Phase two applications are going to describe an accelerator program that utilizes a significant portion of total funds requested for technology development and commercialization awards that are going to be distributed to meritorious cohort participant businesses, and the remaining funds in your phase two award will be used for operations and implementation.

[Slide 16] Successful Climate Resilience Accelerator programs are going to consider the following components for their phase two implementation. The first one is a structure curriculum for their startups. Then they will be considering the technological market and economic analyzes that they do during their phase one award.

Next, you should consider how you're going to build your strong mentorship program. A strong mentorship program can include but is not limited to entrepreneurs and residence programs, peer-to-peer mentorship networks, subject matter mentors, and legal mentors.

Next, the phase two application should include a description of strong and committed board of advisors. So you might choose to establish a new board for this climate resilience theme, or you might want to expand an existing board and include new experts that are have subject matter expertise in the theme that you've chosen. Next, you want to have in your application access to capital and strategic partners.

So the accelerators should provide cohort businesses with a strong understanding of the ecosystem of early stage capital providers, including venture capital, grant makers, lenders, and other sources of funding. Next. you need to describe access to any prototyping or demo facilities, if that's appropriate for the climate resilience theme area that you have chosen.

Your phase two application needs to include a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility. And so climate resilience accelerators need to demonstrate this commitment both within their own organizational culture and practices by engaging in partnerships with diverse organizations and stakeholders through the entrepreneurs and businesses that are selected as their cohorts and by prioritizing climate resilience challenges that impact marginalized and underserved communities.

Next, you will need to describe a strong commitment to data collection. So the accelerator entities that are funded in phase two are going to be required to collect data to assess outcomes for each cohort participant business and overall program execution. You need to develop metrics to do that assessment. Finally, there's the distribution of Technology Development and Commercialization awards. So these are going to be awards that directly support cohort businesses as they implement their activities that were identified through the accelerator process in key commercialization pathways for their product or service.

So successful accelerator entity is going to have clearly identified a process for selecting the appropriate startups and/or entrepreneurs for accelerator cohorts and infrastructure to evaluate, select, and fund the most promising of those businesses that they have in their cohorts.

[Slide 17] So the phase two awards are going to be given out to 4 to 5 of the applicants that...we’ll be making 4 to 5 awards, and they'll be awarding up to $10 million each for a five year period to implement the accelerator, implement this accelerator program that was developed in phase one. So that means that not all of the phase one awardees will be selected for phase two. The final selections may be individual phase one awardees or a combination of phase one awardees to submit joint applications to phase two solicitation.

The funding is expected to support accelerator program operations, facilities, and cohort selection. So in this case you may be asked to combine your proposal with other applicants in order to create a more robust accelerator entity. And to be clear on the eligibility, there needs to be a lead institution and that lead institution would need to be the same between the phase one and phase two. But the sub-awards can change from the phase one to the phase two periods.

So thank you so much. I'm going to throw it back to Carl for our last couple of slides.


00:15:24:11 - 00:15:36:23     CARL GOULDMAN

[Slide 18] Thank you Caitlin, thank you Zack, and that's really it for us right now. Please contact us with any questions at