Great Energy Challenge Grants: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ for Applicants | Jump to FAQ for Grantees

Q: Who approves the grants?

A: The Great Energy Challenge has an advisory board, and the board members approve the grants. In addition, this team offers general guidance on the overall Great Energy Challenge.

Q: What are your evaluation criteria?

A: Evaluation criteria are listed in the "grant assessment" section online.

Q: The website mentions that funding is intended for companies or individuals that have already demonstrated proof of concept. Please explain.

A: The Great Energy Challenge defines proof of concept as technology has already demonstrated its feasibility and has the potential of being used.

Q: The website mentions that funding is intended for early-stage entrepreneurs. What does this mean?

A: The Great Energy Challenge awards grants for companies or individuals that have demonstrated proof of concept. This is explained in the question above. Early-stage entrepreneurs may be working on or have already completed a pilot study. The Great Energy Challenge defines a pilot study as a preliminary study to evaluate different aspects of the business model in order to assess feasibility of the business model. Finally, proposals to refine a prototype (prior to the pilot study) may be considered as well. The Great Energy Challenge defines a prototype as a preliminary model of a demonstrated technology, which can be developed or copied.

Q: When do you accept applications?

A: Submissions for review close four weeks prior to the advisory board meeting date. These dates are listed online.

Q: Do I have to finish my project within one year?

A: No. National Geographic (NG) will support project activities for the necessary time to achieve the project goal as laid out in the proposal.

Q: Is there a monetary limit for grant sizes?

A: Most of our grants typically fall in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. In exceptional circumstances, grants may be lower or higher than this range.

Q: Is there a limit for how long answers should be for proposal questions?

A: There is a word limit, which is specified in each question of the application. The purpose for doing so is to keep answers concise. Except for the abstract, there is no need to repeat information.

Q: My proposal was not accepted. Am I eligible to re-apply for funding?

A: Yes. Applicants are permitted to submit a proposal for a new project in a future quarter.

Q: Does NG take equity in applicants' companies?

A: No. Awarded grants are free.

Q: How important is community involvement in our project?

A: It is very important. NG wants to promote solutions that address the challenges of a given community. Although some solutions are replicated from success in a different location, it is important that the grantee understand what problems exist for the specific project location and involve the community to work towards solutions.

Q: I applied for a grant in a different grant program. Do I list this as matching funding?

A: There is a place to mention expected grant awards in the "notes" section of a question entitled, "total capital needs". This is in the application.

Q: How long does the decision making process take, once a proposal has been submitted?

A: Applicants will receive a final decision within three months following the application deadline.

Q: Does the grantee relationship with NG still continue at the project end?

A: Yes. Although financial support is finished, NG would like to follow the grantee's progress. If there is a major development, the only way for NG tell this story is if the grantee keeps us informed.

Q: To what extent is Shell involved in the grant program?

A: Shell provides financial support for the entire Great Energy Challenge program, but does not contribute in any way to the design or decision-making process of the grant program. Grantees have no relationship with Shell.

FAQ for Current Grantees

Q: There was a new development since receiving the Great Energy Challenge grant. Can we modify project activities or budget lines?

A: You may modify project activities or budget lines provided that it does not (1) change your project goal and (2) you notify the point of contact at NG.

Q: What is the process after the grant is awarded?

A: After the advisory board approves a proposal, the grantee will receive a letter stating the grant award. Then, NG will send a contract to the grantee. Once the contract is signed, payment will be disbursed within 10-12 business days and the grantee can begin project activities. NG will post a project profile on the Great Energy Challenge grantee page. NG will maintain periodic contact to stay up to date on project milestones and discuss a potential project site visit.

Q: What are the main deliverables?

A: Deliverables include one activity and financial report at the conclusion of the project. NG will provide a template for this report. NG also requests the rights to twenty photos and ten minutes of video.

Q: What type of data do I need to gather?

A: The grantee should pay close attention to the project indicators proposed in the application and start collecting data and make necessary baseline measurements. These indicators will be included in the contract.

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