Eight businesses will each receive up to $300,000 in funding and support to pilot solutions addressing sea-level rise and flooding in coastal Virginia

NORFOLK, Virginia, May 12, 2022 – RISE today announced the winners in its Rural and Urban Coastal Community Resilience Challenges, designed to identify, validate and scale novel solutions to sea-level rise and flooding. Eight winning small businesses – four for each Challenge – were selected from more than 70 submissions. Each business will receive up to $300,000 in funds and services to test and advance their next-generation products in the living lab of coastal Virginia. Winners will also receive technical, government, and business mentoring, investor matchmaking, a customized accelerator curriculum, and ongoing support to help them advance.

“These winning businesses represent some of the most innovative thinking in climate adaptation,” said RISE Executive Director, Paul Robinson. “By providing one-stop-shop resources to expedite their success, RISE provides the cutting-edge tools our own region needs to address climate challenges now and a launchpad to help other coastal communities faster.”

The Rural Coastal Community Resilience Challenge marks the first time RISE has extended its successful model to source innovative solutions to problems distinct from those encountered by coastal cities. In partnership with the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and Virginia Sea Grant, and with funding from GO Virginia, four winning businesses will receive up to $200,000 in grants and services to develop next-generation solutions surrounding topics such as septic system redesign and repurposing dredge materials. Rural Challenge winners will also receive project support from regional community colleges and universities, and the unique opportunity to test and develop their products on dedicated Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority public properties and buildings.

“We know small businesses have the ability to solve problems faced by our coastal communities,” said Virginia Sea Grant Director Troy Hartley. “The Rural Challenge gives entrepreneurs access to an entire innovation ecosystem — collaborative R&D with universities, funding, workforce development — all the resources they need to turn ideas into real-world solutions.”

“Why are we building our communities the same way we built them 100 years ago when we know Mother Nature isn’t operating the same way she did 100 years ago? It makes no sense, we need to reimagine and design our communities differently and the Challenge allows us to bring innovative solutions to longstanding problems,” said Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission Executive Director, Lewie Lawrence.

The four winners of the RISE Urban Coastal Community Resilience Challenge will each receive up to $300,000 in grants and loans to address the needs of coastal cities. Businesses will pilot solutions to issues such as re-establishing critical utilities after a severe weather event and tidal backflow prevention in stormwater systems in Hampton Roads municipalities, including the City of Norfolk.

With support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development, RISE has launched six Challenges and deployed over $5 million to more than 30 businesses. Winners of the RISE Urban and Rural Challenges join more than 20 RISE-funded pilot projects currently underway, including sensors that collect critical stormwater system capacity data, and applications to re-route drivers in real-time using Waze to avoid flooded roads, and the nation’s first home raising academy.

RISE Rural Coastal Resilience Challenge Winners:

  • Biogenic Solutions provides consulting support in restoration, mitigation, and biogenic shoreline reef management. Biogenic Solutions will test and advance a new method of upcycling dredge materials to protect shorelines.
  • Home Mechanix helps residents mitigate the hazards of flooding to their homes and repair the damages afterward. Home Mechanix will test a novel crawl space moisture barrier to protect homes against flood damage
  • Natrx delivers large-scale, turnkey, nature-based solutions that protect shorelines immediately after installation and become more resilient over time. Natrx will test how to repurpose dredge materials for use in the construction of resilient infrastructure.
  • Triangle Environmental works to design, test, and implement innovative solutions for people who don’t have access to proper sanitation. Triangle Environmental will pilot a compact, modular wastewater treatment system for non-potable reuse of household greywater.

Urban Coastal Community Resilience Challenge Winners:  

  • Fernleaf provides guidance to governments on future-proofing their communities against climate threats while also improving social equity. Fernleaf will test a solution that assesses system-wide climate and community impact indicators of projects to help cities prioritize transportation infrastructure funds.
  • Independence Hydrogen provides turnkey hydrogen gas services for fuel cell applications. Independence Hydrogen will test a new distribution system that provides emergency alternative backup power supplies to cities.
  • InfraSGA offers simple, cost-effective, adaptable bio-retention solutions that help solve stormwater management issues in urban environments. InfraSGA will fine-tune its business model and prepare for market launch.
  • Natrx delivers large-scale, turnkey, nature-based solutions that protect shorelines immediately after installation and become more resilient over time. Natrx will pilot an innovative method for businesses to measure and report the value of resilience-based infrastructure.

To learn more, please visit www.riseresilience.org.

About RISE
RISE identifies, funds and scales solutions for coastal communities struggling with flooding and other climate-related challenges in the living lab of coastal Virginia. We are a catalyst for innovation and forward-thinking economic development. Since 2018, we have deployed over $5 million to more than 30 businesses creating cutting-edge products and services and establishing the only ecosystem for the growing coastal resilience sector.

About Virginia Sea Grant
Virginia Sea Grant combines the resources of Virginia’s top institutions, using them to find innovative solutions to marine and coastal challenges faced by the Commonwealth. Together we work to improve coastal ecosystems, coastal communities, and working waterfronts by financially supporting researchers, graduate fellows, extension members, and interns. Alongside these universities and a variety of other partners, we act as an “honest broker” to spread useful, unbiased and science-based knowledge to a wide variety of audiences and constituents.

About the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority
Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority (MPCBPAA) was created by the General Assembly in 2002, the MPCBPAA represents nine Middle Peninsula localities, including Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties, and the Towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna, and West Point. Holding the title to and managing over 50 waterfront properties, the MPCBPAA makes properties available for various activities important to the economy and citizens, and manages multiple, sometimes competing, needs and uses. The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) serves as MPCBPAA fiscal agent and provides professional planning and staff support.

About GO Virginia
GO Virginia is an initiative by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.