The impact of climate change is being experienced at an accelerated rate. In the U.S., almost 40% of the population lives in high-population-density coastal areas vulnerable to sea level rise, leaving these communities at higher risk of flooding, shoreline erosion, and hazards from storms.

To address the growing demand for innovative solutions, RISE has designed a 12-month challenge program covering Hampton Roads, in coastal Virginia that is designed to support founders of startups and small- to medium-sized businesses solving the many problems that face coastal cities as a result of climate change. With 1.7 million residents, 10 diverse cities and 9 counties experiencing the highest rates of sea level rise along the East Coast, Hampton Roads presents a rare opportunity: An unbeatable living laboratory for the best climate resilience and adaptation technologies, along with the chance to make a positive impact quickly.

Selected teams will get to work closely with business, government, and tech leaders in Hampton Roads on pilots to validate and potentially commercialize their solutions across the region. Join our program to develop the next generation solutions that solve climate change’s many challenges.

Our Offer

RISE provides revenue based loans and grants of up to $300,000 USD.

In addition to funding, RISE provides a fabrication facility, co-working space, real-world pilot and testing sites, technical, government, and business mentors, investor matchmaking, a customized curriculum, and on-going support to get your startup to the next level.

Up to $300,000 USD in non-dilutive grant and revenue based loan funding

  • Real-world pilot sites in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia
  • Feedback from government pilot hosts
  • Co-working office and workshop space in Hampton Roads, Virginia
  • Customized business accelerator curriculum
  • Government, technical, and business mentors
  • PR opportunities and media visibility
  • Regulatory assistance with government funding
  • Introductions to potential investors and customers
  • The only ecosystem of coastal resilience entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Our Focus Areas

Our areas of focus for our Challenge are described in detail here. In summary, Coastal Communities seek innovative solutions for the following:

  • Flood management and infrastructure: management of ground-storm-and/or tidal water, either as affordable short-term mitigations, or low-maintenance, longer-term options in a variety of environments with high water tables.
  • Protection of buildings: maintaining the viability of existing buildings facing different levels of flooding.
  • Data analytics: improving the ability to more effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from disruptions.
  • Re-establishing critical utilities: re-establishing and maintaining functionality of critical systems after an acute event to prevent cascading failures and degradation in the resilience of a community.

Application Requirements

  • Your company has to be able to test / deploy your technology in Hampton Roads, in coastal Virginia, either by yourselves or by hiring a local partner.
  • You have to be able to deploy your solution / spend all of the funding (up to $300,000) within a 12-month period after being accepted into the program.
  • Your technology has to be prototype stage or later or already have customers using your technology.
  • If you are accepted as a finalist, you will be required to submit further documentation like technical details of your solution, a work plan, etc. within 14 calendar days of being notified of your finalist status.
  • You have to meet the definition of a small business, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration and found here. You can partner with a larger company if needed as long as your project is led by you as the small business.
  • Finalists will be required to register on

Program Requirements

Startups that are accepted into our program DO NOT have to be located in Hampton Roads as long as COVID restrictions are still in place. However, you will still need to deploy your solution by either hiring or partnering with a local firm/individuals.

Ready to apply?

Our applications are open until January 10th, 2022.

Mix business with purpose

We create value for our portfolio companies and our ecosystem partners by facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships.

Global diverse talent

Our seasoned team of advisors from diverse backgrounds is critical for your long-term success, delivering value and supporting our founders on their journey to building profitable companies whilst addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Our mentors


Evans McMillion

Executive Director, 757 Accelerate
bay (1)

Bay McLaughlin

Co-founder & COO, Brinc

Kyle Spencer

Deputy Resilience Officer, City of Norfolk

Our Team


Dr. Katerina Oskarsson

CSO, RISE Resilience Innovation

Dr. Paul A. Robinson

Executive Director, Rise

Barbara Walker

Resilience Project Manager, RISE Resilience Innovation