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76West Frequently Asked Questions


What are the eligibility requirements for entry? What classifies as “clean energy”?

Eligible companies must be involved with clean energy. For the purposes of 76West, clean energy is defined as:

“Hardware technologies, software technologies, services, or processes that broadly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and/or enable the transition to a sustainable and clean energy economy by increasing the supply of renewable energy and distributed energy resources, improving the efficiency of energy utilization at the consumer and industrial scale, improving the processes and systems that use energy, or more effectively enabling energy solutions to permeate the marketplace.”

Companies must be involved in clean energy and meet a minimum of two of the following criteria:

  • Company incorporation date is seven years or less
  • Has a clean energy product or service in testing or pilot production
  • Is a pre- or early-revenue business
  • Has a leadership team working towards commercialization and profitability

What types of companies are excluded from the competition?

The following businesses are not eligible for the competition:

  • Investment vehicles that invest in the securities of other entities
  • Residential real estate property and retail businesses (for this purpose, “retail business” means a business that is primarily engaged in making retail sales of goods or services to customers who personally visit such facilities to obtain goods or services)
  • Sports venues
  • Gaming and gambling businesses
  • Places of overnight accommodation
  • Entertainment-related establishments

In addition, generally excluded are the following:

  • Buy-outs
  • Roll-ups
  • Real estate syndications
  • Tax shelters
  • Franchise-based outlets
  • Any businesses that do not fit the definition of “clean energy” (refer to question #1)

What benefits are there to entering the competition?

Six winning companies will receive prize money (1st place receives $1M; 2nd place, $500K; remaining four winners, $250K each) , one year of incubator space, mentoring, and business support.

How and when can I enter the competition?

The 76West 2016 competition is closed and is no longer accepting applications. You can sign up for email updates related to 76West 2017.

What criteria will judges use to score my application?

Judges will rate companies in the context of this rubric:

  1. Clean energy impact: Strength of the clean energy technology or business model (does it “move the dial” in clean energy)
  2. Solving an important problem: Solving of a material problem that customers are willing to pay for
  3. Business model viability: Economic viability of the business model (IP protection, competitive picture, cost structure, etc.)
  4. Technical viability: The technical readiness of the proposal
  5. Southern Tier job creation: Potential for creation of high quality jobs in the Southern Tier, directly or indirectly, with secondary consideration given to New York state jobs
  6. Team: Quality and completeness of the team and their readiness to deliver

What areas classify as part of the 76West region?

The 76West region is the Southern Tier of New York State, which includes 11 counties: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins.

Does my startup need to relocate if I win a prize?

For companies currently located in New York State, relocation is not a requirement, but certain criteria must be followed. Winners must be able to prove a positive economic impact and job creation in the Southern Tier. This could include relocation, using region-based suppliers, joint development and partnerships, or other strategies.

Companies not located in New York State must materially locate key officers of the applicant (determined by NYSERDA) in the region and make the region their primary offices for at least 24 months commencing within 3 months of the award.

Should my technology be at a certain stage of development to apply?

No. There is no target for technical maturity of applicants. Please refer to eligibility criteria to see how your company fits (refer to questions #1 & #6).

Are there any fees for applying to and entering the competition?

There are no application fees. Semifinalists will be responsible for their travel to the Southern Tier if they wish to attend the tour and workshops. Travel and lodging expenses for finalist teams will be covered.

Over what period of time does the competition take place?

The application period for 76West 2016 ended on March 15th, 2016 at 5pm EST. Judges will determine semifinalists by the end of April. Semifinalists will have the opportunity to attend three days of events, workshops, and incubator visits in early May. A second round of judging will take place, and finalists will be announced in June. Finalists will come back to the region for one week in July, ending with a final pitch event judged by a blue-ribbon panel.

May I submit a business plan that has already been submitted to another competition?

Yes. You can participate in multiple business plan competitions as long as you meet the requirements of this competition.

May I apply if my business has received institutional, angel, or other financing?

Yes, we are happy to see your team supported by investors.

If my application does not meet qualifications or advance to the finalist round, can I reapply next year?

Yes, please do. Sign up on our email list to receive dates for the 2017 cycle.

If I win a prize during one year of the competition, can I reapply to compete again?

Yes, pending review. An applicant that is part of a prize winning team can reapply if he/she is part of an entirely new company.

Will I get feedback on my application if my company is not selected for entry?

During the screening process, you may be called to answer further questions or receive an email that declares eligibility criteria has not been met. If you are not selected as a semifinalist, you will receive an email regarding that status. Semifinalists that do not advance to the final round will be notified with a phone call and an email. If you would like additional feedback about why your application did not advance, you can contact us at 76west@ststartup.com. We encourage you to make improvements to your business plan and reapply next year.

Does 76West take equity in my startup if I am a winner?


Does 76West charge a royalty for cash awards?

NYSERDA’s standard recoupment terms are far less onerous than equity sharing arrangements. They require an awardee to pay back the award, without interest, at a modest rate of 1.5% of revenues up to the award amount. However, if the company moves out-of-state before the 24 months are over, the recoupment rate will increase to 5%, and the company will have to pay back three times the award amount.

Cash payments will be based on business and technical milestones relevant to the development of the clean energy business proposed in the final pitch and will include standard NYSERDA recoupment terms.

Where will the competition events take place?

For 76West 2016, semifinal activities will take place in the Southern Tier of New York State centered in Binghamton, Corning, and Ithaca. Finals week with also have activities around those three locations with the final pitch gala in Binghamton, NY.

For further questions, or support with your application, please email: 76west@ststartup.com