What is a “Startup Team”?
A Startup Team consists of the Startup Team Leader, any additional team members designated by the Team Leader, plus Energy-Executives-In-Residence (EEIRs) provided by MEIA. The Startup Team Leader and EEIRs roles are further defined below.
What are the eligibility criteria for MEIA?
MEIA accepts applications from a Startup Team Leader. The leader applies for acceptance into a MEIA program. A leader is:
How does a Startup Team Leader gain admission to a program?
Admission requires the following steps:
1. Startup Team Leaders express an interest to apply on the MEIA website (https://mdeia.org/inventors).
2. The expression of interest will be reviewed by MEIA, and an interview will be scheduled.
3. If the concept is eligible, MEIA will request a formal application from the Startup Team Leader.
4. After the Startup Team Leader completes an application, MEIA will make a decision.
5. Startup Teams are admitted on a first come first served basis as space allows.
Who are Energy-Executives-In-Residence (EEIRs) and how do they participate?
An EEIR is a consultant who joins a Startup Team in a functional role. An EEIR has at least 10 years of work experience and has significant functional experience. EEIRs take on the supporting executive roles that you would expect to see in an investible clean energy company. These roles might include Chief Executive Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Sales Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Financial Officer, or Chief Operations Officer. EEIRs create work product for the company, develop plans, and can represent the Startup Team in public settings. An EEIR can slot into the Startup Team as a subject matter expert. While most EEIRs will have managerial experience, an EEIR will not be asked to manage people. The EEIR FAQ has more information about EEIRs.
How are EEIRs assigned to a Startup Team?
MEIA advertises and proactively recruits for open roles on Startup Teams. EEIRs have established rates ($/hour). All EEIRs will be lightly vetted by MEIA staff to ensure that EEIRs meet eligibility standards. Startup Team leaders are ultimately responsible for selecting from among the EEIRs that apply for a position on the Startup Team. Once an EEIR is selected, he/she will be hired by MEIA as an independent contractor. EEIRs work for MEIA by contract, and thus EEIRs do not own any of their work product. When the services of an EEIR are not a good match or are not acceptable to the Startup Team, the Startup Team Leader may remove the EEIR from the Startup Team by notifying the MEIA Program Manager. MEIA will then release the EEIR from the engagement for that team.
Do Startup Teams have funding? Who pays for EEIRs?
MEIA will provide an operating budget to each Startup Team to use for hiring EEIRs, for travel, and other approved business expenses. The Startup Team Leader is responsible for managing the budget. All expenses (reimbursements, contractor compensation) run through MEIA billing processes and are administered by MCEC. Operating budgets will be provided by the Startup Team’s Strategic Partner.
How much time do Startup Team Leaders and Members need to dedicate?
Over a 3-6 month period, all team members will be working part time to achieve milestones based on the program curriculum and a calendar developed in the beginning of the program by the Startup Team and the Project Manager. There will be monthly seminars and weekly check-ins with your project manager. The work required to achieve milestones will be split amongst all team members. MEIA expects the Startup Team Leader will need to work about 5 hours per week on average, with much of this time spent teaching and assisting EEIRs with technology and technical issues. Startup Team Members should also plan to work about 5 hours per week attending meetings and performing work product.
Does MEIA/MCEC/EEIRs/Strategic Partners have a claim to any intellectual property developed by a Startup Team?
No. MEIA/MCEC explicitly waives all claims to intellectual property. EEIRs are subcontractors hired by MEIA/MCEC, and thus, EEIRs waived claims in their subcontractor agreements. Strategic Partners waived claims in their Strategic Partner MOUs.
Do Startup Team Leaders need to pay MEIA or MCEC to participate?
No. MEIA is funded by the State of Maryland.
Do EEIRs or Strategic Partners get equity?
No. For work provided prior to company formation, EEIRs are subcontractors to MEIA/MCEC, and are being compensated for their work on the Startup Team. They are not entitled to any additional equity for work performed while in an EEIR role.
How does a Startup Team graduate from the Accelerator?
Graduation represents the end of the formal relationship between MEIA and the Startup Team Leader and the Startup Team. If the Startup Team decides not to pursue a company, the Team graduates, all expenditures will be settled, and the Startup Team forfeits the remainder of its budget. If the Startup Team decides to form a company, it may retain access to its remaining budget to use for eligible business expenses for up to 3 months, after which the budget is forfeit. The Startup Team graduates when the budget is used up 3 months after the official program end date, whichever is sooner.
What if a Startup Team Leader does not want to be in charge? What if the original Startup Team Leader quits?
It is possible for a Startup Team Leader to hire an EEIR to work in the CEO/Leader role for the team, which would enable the EEIR to become the manager of the team’s budget and EEIR selection/de-selection. If the original Startup Team Leader decides to leave the team, then both the original Startup Team Leader and the Intellectual Property holder would need to agree to allow commercialization to continue. The MEIA project manager is available to assist with the transition process.
Are there any future obligation to MCEC after the accelerator program ends?
Yes. A Startup Team that forms a company will be required to provide general information on an annual basis that described employment, revenue, funds raised, and potentially other metrics that will enable MCEC/MEIA to describe the benefits of the Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator to its public and private stakeholders. The information collected will be aggregated and shared anonymously in our reports to stakeholders unless the company explicitly allows MCEC/MEIA to use the information to create a case study or other use.
What is an EEIR?
An EEIR is a consultant who joins a Startup Team in a functional role. Most Startup Team Leaders will be the inventors of new technology. EEIRs take on the supporting executive roles that you would expect to see in an investible clean energy company. These roles might include Chief Executive Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Sales Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Financial Officer, or Chief Operations Officer. EEIRs create work product for the company, develop plans, and can represent the Startup Team in public settings. EEIRs participate in the customer discovery process that determines the critical feature set needed to achieve product-market fit.
Who can be an EEIR?
An EEIR has at least 10 years of work experience and has significant functional experience. An EEIR can slot into the Startup Team as a subject matter expert. While most EEIRs will have managerial experience, an EEIR will not be asked to manage people. Since EEIRs will work part-time, the position could be ideal for someone who is currently employed full time and is looking to experience the creation of a new company. Consultants or entrepreneurs are also good candidates to become EEIRs.
EEIRs should have an interest in becoming a co-founder of a compelling startup. The goal for an EEIR while working in the accelerator program is to gain a better understanding of the market potential for the Startup Team’s technology, and to decide if the EEIR wants to join the founding team. The 3-6 month accelerator provides a risk-free environment for the Startup Team members to get to know each other, to work together (and assess personality fit), and to determine if there is a potentially viable business to create. At the end of the accelerator program, the Startup Team will be asked to decide whether to start a company, to decide which EEIRs will become the founders, and to negotiate a founder’s agreement. The EEIR is not obligated to become a founder, nor is the team obligated to include the EEIR in the founding team.
How many hours do EEIRs work?
EEIRs should be able to work 5 hours per week, on average, during the program period. Some roles and/or periods of time may be more intense than others. EEIR hours will be managed by the Startup Team Leader. Each Startup Team has a budget that it can use for purchasing business services including EEIR time. MEIA has set expectations with Startup Team Leaders that EEIRs will be working part-time including nights and/or weekends. Most of the Startup Team Leaders will also be part time.
Are EEIRs paid? Are there other benefits to being an EEIR?
Generally, the Startup Team’s budget is based on a rate of $50 per hour, which is a below-market rate because we expect many EEIRs are partially motivated by a desire to give back. All EEIRs will sign a subcontractor agreement with the Maryland Clean Energy Center. On a monthly basis, EEIRs will submit hours using an online form, and the Maryland Clean Energy Center will pay EEIRs. EEIRs will learn the Lean Startup methodology by first-hand experience and by participating in curriculum designed to drive the team towards a go/no-go decision on company formation. There are many lessons that could position the EEIR for entrepreneurship in the future, or an innovation support role in their existing organization. EEIRs will also have a risk-free opportunity to learn about an emerging technology and be in a position to potentially become a co-founder of the commercializing company.
How do I become an EEIR?
After MEIA has received an expression of interest via the website (https://mdeia.org/eeirs), MEIA will interview each eligible candidate. Prospective EEIRs will need to sign the EEIR Memorandum of Understanding. Once approved, the EEIR is eligible to match with a Startup Team.
How is an EEIR matched to a team?
Startup Teams will post positions that are circulated via our newsletter. MEIA staff also keeps a list of EEIRs and suggests matches to Startup Teams based on expertise. MEIA will make introductions as requested by Startup Team Leaders.
Can an EEIR be released from a Startup Team?
Yes. The Startup Team Leader is effectively in charge of the team’s financials and personnel. EEIRs are paid hourly and are not guaranteed any specific hours. Thus, an EEIR can be released at will by the Team Leader. The EEIR can submit final hours for billing, and he or she will be paid at the next pay date.
Can MEIA remove an EEIR from the eligibility list?
Yes. MEIA can remove an EEIR from the eligibility list at any time for any reason. MEIA recognizes that being “released” from a Startup Team will often be the result of poor fit (for example, if a Startup Team leader does not believe that an EEIR would be a good fit to be a co-founder). MEIA does not expect to remove EEIRs from the eligibility list unless the EEIR fails to meet their commitments or behaves in such a way that future placement is unlikely. EEIRs may resign at any time.
Are Non-Disclosure Agreements required?
Yes, the subcontractor agreement with MCEC will have an NDA within it.
What is a Corporate Sponsor, and how does the MEIA Corporate Sponsorship Program work?
A Corporate Sponsor provides financial assistance to support MEIA’s operations in exchange for a defined set of benefits as described in the Sponsorship Prospectus. Corporate Sponsorships typically cover a calendar year (365 days) and are not tied to program start or end dates.
How do I become a Corporate Sponsor?
What Corporations are eligible to be Corporate Sponsors?
Any business in good standing in the State of Maryland (or the State the company is based in, if there is no nexus in Maryland) can be a Corporate Sponsor. MEIA reserves the right to decline sponsorship for Corporations whose missions diverge from MEIA’s climate and economic development mission.
What is a Strategic Partner, and how does the MEIA Strategic Partnership Program Work?
A Strategic Partner is a Corporation that has agreed to mentor a Startup Team. The primary purpose of mentorship is to help with customer discovery (to determine the minimum number of features needed to create a product that customer will buy) and to help the Startup Team create a product development plan that will accelerate the time to market. Mentorship guidelines are under development. The Strategic Partner’s goal is to help the Startup Team become an investible company.
Are Non-Disclosure Agreements Required?
An NDA is not required to become a Strategic Partner since the initial information provided by Startup Teams to prospective Strategic Partners will not be proprietary. However, some Startup Teams may require an NDA as a condition for selecting a Strategic Partner, and MEIA will make Strategic Partners aware of these requirements when the initial information is distributed. Startup Team Leaders will be advised not to share proprietary information with Strategic Partners without a signed NDA. MEIA expects that much of the technology that will be presented by Startup Teams will be published in academic journals and will also be protected by patents (or patents in process) from the Startup Team Leader’s institution. However, some Startup Team Leaders may be working on undisclosed technology that could be proprietary in nature. This technology cannot be disclosed without an NDA, and disclosures are subject to rules of the Startup Team Leader’s current employer.
What is a positive outcome for Strategic Partnership?
Initially, the goal of the Strategic Partnership is to help the Startup Team become an investible company. This means that the technology path has been meaningfully de-risked through the customer discovery process and identification of customers or suppliers who want to buy the product. It also means that the Startup Team has built out an executive team and a Board of Advisors who are credible. Finally, it means that a company was formed, that an agreement was made among co-founders, and that IP was licensed from the Startup Team Leader’s institution. MEIA hopes that Strategic Partners will continue their relationship with their Startup Team once the Team has graduated from MEIA’s program and has formed a company. The Strategic Partner could enter into a Joint Development Agreement, Service Agreement (or off-take agreement), provide seed investment, or take a position on the company’s advisory board. There are many ways that a relationship might continue after the Startup Team graduates from MEIA that will benefit the Strategic Sponsor.
How do I become a Strategic Sponsor?
What is a Professional Services Sponsor, and how does the Program work?
A Professional Services Sponsor provides in-kind assistance to support Startup Teams. The scope of services will be described, and duration and value of these services will be estimated for inclusion in the Memorandum of Understanding. The scope of services will be determined ahead of time, and MEIA expects that any additional scope would be billable to the Startup Team Leader or the Startup Team’s surviving entity. MEIA cannot accept any billing liability for work performed on behalf of a Startup Team. Thus, each Professional Services Sponsor should sign an engagement letter with the Startup Team Leader at the beginning of the engagement. Each Startup Team will have a limited budget provided to them by MEIA and will be seeking additional funding while they are within the MEIA program. It is the responsibility of the Professional Services Sponsor to notify and receive pre-approval from the Startup Team Leader for any fees that will be incurred. MEIA will not accept responsibility for any fees.
How much time is a Professional Services Provider expected to commit?
The time commitment is negotiated ahead of time. MEIA expects a Professional Services Sponsor will spend about the same amount of effort for each Startup Team. However, the time and value of services provided by each provider will be different as a function of the services being delivered. For example, services provided to Startup Teams that decide to create a company could be substantially different than those to Startup Teams that decide not to continue after graduation from MEIA.
How are Professional Services Sponsors selected?
MEIA is recruiting two sponsors in each category on a first come first serve basis. The available categories are: Accounting, Management Consulting, HR Consulting, Branding, Presentation
How do I become a Professional Services Sponsor?
What are the benefits of being a Professional Services Sponsor?
Professional Services Sponsors receive considerable marketing/branding benefits throughout the MEIA/MCEC community. In addition to gaining relationships with startups that could become clients in the future, Sponsors in comparable programs at other accelerators/incubators typically leverage these engagements to provide opportunities for professional development of less experienced staff members.
Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator
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