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

RISE 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, 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 back flow 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, 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.

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