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CA CARES Proof of Concept Funds 

Bring your climate innovations to the world, powered by the University of California.

The Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC) at UC San Diego is thrilled to introduce the CA CARES (Climate Action, Resilience, and Environmental Sustainability) Grant programOn the path to full decarbonization, this groundbreaking initiative is an accelerator to drive innovation from UC San Diego into the market and to foster startup growth. CA CARES is a collaborative community-supported grant that elevates the best current climate science and offers a one-of-a-kind platform for your transformative ideas.

Three Pathways for Engagement

The CA CARES Grant supports three distinct grant opportunities, each with its own unique avenue to make a difference. They are the CA CARES Researcher-led Projects, the StartBlue Accelerator, and Projects and Special Initiatives. Participants will be selected based on their innovation merit, potential impact, and their alignment in addressing California climate priorities. Partnerships with California agencies, industries, and communities are highly encouraged.

The promise of the grant is further strengthened by a strategic link with the StartBlue Accelerator. It is a specialized program for students, faculty members, or community members with an innovative startup idea that aligns with UC San Diego Climate Goals and/or an ocean-related challenge with a science- and engineering-based solution. Successful submissions will be considered in a rigorous review and then notified for eligibility to participate in the next cohort of startups with programming from January - June 2024. 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are key parts of what make CA CARES and the StartBlue Accelerator successful programs with enduring impact. CA CARES intentionally seeks to recruit and engage entrepreneurs and innovators from historically marginalized communities as an integral strategy to address the underrepresentation of diverse founders and the communities that technologies are destined to serve. Furthermore, industry panelists are selected to be representative of the identity parity of the university because representation and role modeling are important at all levels of the program in the effort to advance the mission of OIC at UC San Diego. For more information, please visit Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research Affairs. Check out our Pre-Company Technology page to view some of the past awardees.

Join us in shaping a sustainable future. Whether you're an entrepreneur, innovator, or supporter of climate solutions, CA CARES invites you to lead the next wave of climate innovation and action.

Supporting Partners and Collaborators include:

  • Ravi Kiron, Industrial Strategic Innovation
  • Sarah Gavish Strauss and Shawn Bohigan - Co-founders of Brand Strategy and Sustainability Consultants
  • Prisco Piscitelli MD, PhD - Senior Epidemiologist at Euro Mediterranean Biomedical Institute and UNESCO Chair on Health, Education, and Sustainable Development
  • Nick Ainslie - Diagnostics, Devices, and International Policy


Apply for CA Cares Grant

We invite faculty to submit your pioneering projects that need funding to translate scientific discoveries into practical climate adaptation solutions for the market. This is your chance to turn research into impact and create a tangible benefit for climate action. Projects may request up to $50,000 each. Faculty can submit a brief summary of your program along with team demographics, milestones, and budget details.

OIC will support and fund teams and projects in the CA CARES program that have met the criteria for funding in guidelines and presented a compelling project for impact. An internal review will consider intellectual property and novel policy and then a second round review group will consider innovation merit, potential impact, and their alignment in addressing California climate priorities. The funds are awarded for use during the 2023 - 2024 Fiscal Year.

Note: Please do not include proprietary or confidential information in your proposal as applications may be shared with funding and investment partners. For questions, contact


Apply Now

Apply to StartBlue Accelerator

Open to students, faculty members, or community members with an innovative startup idea that aligns with UC San Diego's climate goals and/or an ocean-related challenge with a science- and engineering-based solution. The Accelerator offers support for startups dedicated to driving positive change in our environment and building climate resilience solutions.


Apply Now

Submit Your Projects & Special Initiatives

Impact Focus Areas For All

Aligned with California's Climate Adaptation Strategy, CA CARES, and the StartBlue Accelerator are leading engagement with outcomes-based priorities that underscore our dedication to a climate-resilient and sustainable future.

Empowering Climate-Vulnerable Communities: 

CA CARES recognizes the urgency to bolster protections for communities disproportionately affected by climate change. The program seeks to engage entrepreneurs and innovators from all identity groups and communities and with specific efforts to engage those from historically marginalized backgrounds, forging a path for more equitable innovation. 

Ensuring Public Health and Safety:  

Escalating climate risks demands a renewed focus on public health and safety. CA CARES confronts this responsibility head-on, fueling technological advancements that safeguard communities against challenges posed by a changing climate. Through resilience-driven innovation, we build a safer, more secure future for all. 

Cultivating a Climate-Resilient Economy:  

CA CARES envisions an economy that thrives symbiotically with the environment. By nurturing the startups, technologies, and policy prioritizing sustainability, we contribute to a resilient economic landscape that actively mitigates climate risks and fights for the health and benefit of communities that are our foundational economic drivers.  

Harnessing Nature-Based Solutions:  

CA CARES is dedicated to accelerating the integration of nature-inspired innovations. We see nature as our greatest inspiration, playing a crucial role in the design of a more sustainable tomorrow

Elevating Climate Science:  

The University of California is a renowned leader in climate research. CA CARES is committed to actions based on the best current science, grounding innovations in knowledge to create meaningful change.  

Collaborating for Impact:  

Together we can do more, better and faster. CA CARES unites innovators, experts, and communities, leveraging its resources for collective progress to go beyond individual effort. 

Key Dates & Timeline

Application Full Proposal Open: September 1, 2023

Application Full Proposal Closed: October 31, 2023

Internal Proposal Review Complete: November 15, 2023

Plan to be available for Proposal Review Panels: December 7-15, 2023

Funding Announcement: December 2023

Criteria & Target Applicants

Qualified proposals will have or be classified as the following:

  • Early-stage proof-of-concept & feasibility projects
  • Prototype development leading to field testing
  • Requires UC San Diego IP or a combination of UC San Diego and non-university IP is acceptable

Apply if you are or have any combination of the following:

  • UC San Diego Faculty submissions with a researcher, graduate, postdoc, or undergraduate student support


  • UC San Diego IP, including new disclosures
  • Pre-company formation technologies or recently formed companies
  • Interdisciplinary approaches (multiple department involvement)
  • Novel policy interventions
CA CARES is an equal opportunity grant and does not discriminate against awardees based on social identity or group affiliation. Consideration will be provided for all teams based on clarity of IP and feasibility of reaching inflection points during the period of performance with support from key partners in our regional innovation ecosystem.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the UC Climate Action Strategy: Download PDF link.

Read the most recent version of the CA Climate Adaptation Strategy: Download PDF link.