RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge: Over $1 Million in Funding

Welcome to the RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge webpage. The Challenge closed on September 30, 2018. Judging is underway for 51 Challenge submissions. Finalists will be announced around October 31, 2018.

This Challenge sought innovative products, approaches, and workforce development programs from anywhere in the world that address any of five resilience topics described below and can be demonstrated in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia, can be built into economically viable businesses, and are scalable to other communities.

Home to the largest concentration of U.S. defense facilities in the world, including world’s largest naval base, and to the Port of Virginia, the third largest commercial port on the East Coast, Hampton Roads is a hub for trade for the eastern third of the nation and a security nexus for the world. Like other coastal areas, this globally important region seeks to adapt to the increasing risks and impacts associated with sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

RISE has over US$1M in its Resilience Innovation Fund to support innovators with financially sustainable solutions that enhance the resilience of coastal communities. RISE will offer the opportunity to receive funds to qualifying teams. RISE provided applicants access to data and/or background information for each topic and access to regional Subject Matter Experts.


Each of the topics has an actual occurrence in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, U.S. RISE encouraged participants to also consider the applicability of their solutions to other regions of the world.

To aid applicants in their solutions, RISE provided no cost Coaching and Supporting Information for each topic, including: 1) Descriptions of problems 2) What is already being done in Hampton Roads 3) Traditional approaches in need of innovation 4) Suggested project topic areas 5) Available data and studies.


In addition to the data and studies included in the Supporting Information Document, Challenge applicants requested additional datasets listed below and accessible HERE:

Teams submitted innovative solutions within the five areas:

Date updated: June 25, 2018

Water ManagementDevelop cost-effective management of ground- storm- and/or tidal water, either as affordable short-term mitigations or low-maintenance long-term options in urban environments with high water tables.
Data AnalyticsPropose big data analytics, integration, and accessibility for multiple applications to help coastal community stakeholders maintain public safety, meet logistics needs, protect property, as well as enhance quality of life among other applications.
Viability of BuildingsMaintain the viability of existing buildings facing flood risks. What are the structural or non-structural alternatives beyond traditional approaches such as costly house elevation that individual homeowners could buy that protects buildings for 15 - 30 years in the flood environment, or that are cost effective protections against the higher frequency, lower magnitude recurrent flooding?
Critical Systems FunctionalityRe-establish and maintain critical systems functionality to a defined critical urban facility. Propose portable systems deployable within 2 hours and able to provide 72 hours of continuous functionality to critical services.
Reconnecting NeighborhoodsEnhance the economic prosperity of low/moderate income urban neighborhoods which have been disconnected physically, economically and digitally from the rest of a thriving city.
Workforce DevelopmentPropose innovative workforce development solutions that offer pathways to train, retrain, upskill, or reskill workers, as well as connect them to the demands of employers around any of the five resilience topics described above.

The 2018 Challenge topics were identified by more than 60 municipal, national, and international stakeholders and resilience experts during a Challenge Design Workshop organized by RISE and MIT Solve with support of the City of Norfolk Resilience Office and sponsorship from Old Dominion University.

RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge
Who can apply:
For-profit small businesses and non-profit organizations. *Anyone can submit a solution to RISE but only for-profit small businesses and non-profit organizations will be eligible for funding.
Over $1 million from the Resilience Innovation Fund ($150,000 - $750,000 per company/non-profit) in form of grants and forgivable loans will be available to selected solutions and viability will be considered to qualify solutions for regional contracts.

Sept 30 (11:59pm EDT) – Challenge application due (Phase I)
Oct 31 – Challenge finalists announced
Jan 15 - Fund application due (Phase II)
Feb 15 - March 15 - Oral pitches
April - Awards & Contracting
2019 – Spring 2022 – Implementation
*All dates are subject to change by RISE
Technical Support:

May 31 – Solveathon in Norfolk, Virginia
June 19 – Sept 18 - Call-in office hours
September 7, 14, 21 - ICAP Startup Bootcamp (apply by August 20)
Start Your Submission Here
Sign Up for Updates

RISE Resilience Innovation Fund

RISE will use over $1M in its Resilience Innovation Fund to support teams with financially sustainable solutions that enhance resilience of coastal communities (see 2018 Challenge topics above), can be demonstrated in Hampton Roads, are scalable to other coastal communities, have a strong potential to grow jobs in the region and can be built into economically viable businesses. RISE will offer the opportunity, subject to due diligence and underwriting review, to receive funds to qualifying teams. The Fund is established with federal CDBG-DR funds and consists of Grants and Forgivable Loans in range of $150,000 – $750,000 per company/non-profit.

The Fund is in the process of finalizing its evaluation procedures and will start accepting applications for funding from the Challenge finalists in November, 2018. A final list of program guidelines and evaluation criteria will be issued prior to the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund application period.

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for funding from the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund, you must, at a minimum, meet the following criteria:

  • Be a for profit small business (as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration) or a non-profit entity that has a DUNS number, is registered on sam.gov, and has a committed, full-time solution lead(s);
  • Be eligible to receive  funds from the United States federal government;
  • Demonstrate the solutions in the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia, U.S.;
  • Adhere to applicable administrative requirements, as outlined in 2 CFR 200 (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations);
  • Satisfy a due diligence and underwriting review process.

If you aren’t sure about your eligibility please reach out to us. We will provide guidance and answer your questions.


The RISE Coastal Communities Resilience Challenge and the opportunity to receive funding the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund will proceed in two stages:

Phase One: In this first stage, eligible teams will apply to the Challenge. Submissions will provide information about the team, the problem(s) to be solved, proposed solution(s), potential market(s), customers, business model and a potential for job creation or/and retention in Hampton Roads. Technical assistance will be provided to the applicants, including a provision of Challenge topics-relevant data (where applicable), access to regional subject matter experts, and application guidance. The Challenge evaluation committee will choose a number of finalists. The finalists will be invited to Phase Two in which they will further develop their proposals and pitch to the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund for funding. The Phase One Challenge submission does not constitute the final application to the Fund.

Phase Two: RISE Challenge finalists will be invited to further develop their applications and pitch to the RISE Resilience Innovation Fund (RIF). RISE will begin accepting the refined applications from the Challenge finalists on November 1, 2018. The submission will constitute a detailed plan for the use of funds requested from RIF, a clear description of how these funds will advance the business opportunity described in Phase One, a detailed scope of work, budget, milestones, and additional due diligence and underwriting  information to demonstrate administrative, implementation, and business/financial capacity to be considered for funding. The Fund will award up to $1.2 million (between $150,000 and $750,000 per a company/non-profit) in grants and forgivable loans. The finalist will be also eligible for introductions to investors and customers in RISE’s network. The actual form (grants or/and forgivable loans) and amount of awards will be determined at the discretion of RISE and its Resilience Innovation Fund committee.

Scoring Criteria:

Submissions to the RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge will be scored based on the following criteria and weighting:

  • Strength of entrepreneur(s) & management team (30%)
  • Size of the market and revenue opportunity (25%)
  • Strength of the solution & intellectual property (15%)
  • Strength of competitive environment (competitors and competitive solutions) (10%)
  • Marketing, sales & partners (10%)
  • Economic impact potential, including job creation or/and retention (10%)