MEIA is designed to help bring new and innovative clean energy and climate benefitting products to market. MEIA surrounds inventors with professionals from a wide variety of disciplines who are committed to creating a new, impactful company. Where most early stage commercialization programs place inventors squarely in the leadership role, MEIA enables inventors to decide how involved they want to be, and what role they want to take. MEIA facilitates the creation of new businesses by bringing in lots of help to spread the workload and accelerate the customer development process.
All in, MEIA provides over $100,000 of in-kind benefits to each team. In order to graduate from MEIA's accelerator program, each team will achieve several important milestones that will boost the Startup's credibility with third party investors:
MEIA is an innovative business creation and acceleration engine with the goal of creating new clean energy businesses in Maryland that are credible to third party investors. Or said another way, "MEIA creates investible clean energy businesses." The business model is based on four critical success factors:
Strategic Partnerships. Unlike dotcom businesses, energy innovation businesses are capital intensive and have longer development cycles that do not fit well in established incubator or accelerator programs. These technologies must demonstrate, at scale, that they deserve to unseat the incumbent. The best way to accomplish this is to attract resources of a strategic partner such as a potential customer or an incumbent provider who already has established sales and distribution. MEIA has relationships with strategic partners who provide mentorship to its Startup Teams.
Energy Executives in Residence. Most accelerators utilize “entrepreneurs in residence” who are volunteers that give an hour per week to provide a sounding board, share experiences, and give advice. This model does not resolve the fundamental issue of needing additional business support in order to effectively commercialize. Rather than force founders to take on uncomfortable roles or to learn business, MEIA provides each team with a budget to hire an executive team. MEIA “Energy-Executives-In-Residence” are recruited from local clean energy companies and experienced consultants, and offer discounted rates to our teams. These executives act as employees of the Startup Team to perform and deliver work products. It is hoped that some of these executives will choose to join the teams when a company is formed and funded.
Project Management. Technical founders who have developed potentially marketable technologies typically do not have significant time to devote to commercialization activities. MEIA provides a Project Manager, who is a member of MEIA's staff, to work through scheduling and milestones. The PM makes sure that founders and the EEIRs are addressing critical business issues. The PM also acts as a quality assurance check to make sure the EEIRs are offering excellent support and that the company is doing the things it needs to do be successful.
Professional Services Support. Several of Maryland's leading professional services firms have stepped up to offer in-kind services to teams such as legal, accounting, branding, and market research. These firms help start-up teams incorporate, create operating infrastructure, and put their best foot forward when dealing with strategic partners and potential investors.