From Inside Business
RISE, the nonprofit focused on seeking solutions to the problems coastal communities face with sea level rise and recurrent flooding, is rising to the occasion with a new challenge.
The Coastal Community Resilience Challenge is open to teams worldwide and seeks innovative technology-based solutions that address any of five resilience topics. Those include water management, data analytics, building viability, critical utility installation and disconnected communities.
The approaches must be applicable to Hampton Roads, but also be relevant to other similar communities throughout the world.
Started by the Norfolk-based organization, executive director Paul Robinson said the idea for the challenge stems from RISE’s work to get people to innovate around resilience and the needs of a coastal community like Hampton Roads.
“Obviously there are some areas that need some innovation. Some need new solutions because the old ones are not working or are too expensive or just impractical in any number of ways,” Robinson said. “So, we are developing how we might get the maximum number of people thinking about them and working on them trying to come up with new ideas given that technology is advancing very fast these days and things that couldn’t be done five years ago are readily accomplished now.”
The challenge is part of a partnership with MIT Solve Global Challenge. Participants are asked to answer how coastal communities can mitigate and adapt to climate change while also developing and prospering.
RISE worked with MIT on the design challenge in January.
“We brought in subject matter experts, city employees, city managers … talked for about three to four hours about what’s working in the city, what’s not working, what are the hot topics, what’s missing and what needs to be developed,” Robinson said.
That is when the list of topics for the challenge were defined.
Robinson said finalists from the challenge will have the opportunity to pitch to RISE’s innovation fund which has more than $1 million to support companies in the development and demonstration of new technologies.
“We have access to a large community of folks to work on these problems,” Robinson said. “We can marry that up with the ability to provide these organizations funding at some level in order to actually take these ideas off the paper and make them real.”
Katerina Oskarsson, RISE’s chief strategy officer, said the businesses could be anything that allows a coastal community such as Hampton Roads to adapt to changing conditions associated with rising water and flooding.
“Ideally we will identify some startups or small companies that we will then help grow,” Oskarsson said.
“This funding is for companies that have ideas that can scale and actually form the basis for a business — either an existing business or a startup,” Robinson said. “The money is to demonstrate the technology and to build the business.”
Teams can submit their ideas and solutions through the MIT Solve Coastal Communities Challenge or the RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge.
MIT’s challenge requires a draft solution submittal by July 1 and final solution by July 20. After the challenge, participants can apply to the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund which opens Oct. 1.
RISE’s challenge enables participants to submit ideas for funding from the innovation fund. The rules state that anyone can submit solutions to RISE, but only small businesses and nonprofit entities can qualify for funding.
RISE and MIT Solve, with support from Old Dominion University, are sponsoring a Hampton Roads Solveathon from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31 at the Slover Library in downtown Norfolk.
Solveathon participants will be able to form and reshape ideas, experiment and collaborate.
“That’s an opportunity for teams who are actually working the problems to come in, either in person or I’m sure we’ll have some remote access, and talk to subject matter experts, talk to city managers … it gives them a way to get access to help and advance their projects,” Robinson said.
Registration is required for the Solveathon at RiseResilience.org by May 11.