Designing a future where communities and natural ecosystems can thrive is within reach, but our window of time is rapidly closing. Natural resources are degrading while a growing global population – projected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – increases demand for food, water, and energy. Global temperatures are rising and global emissions must be sharply reduced by 2030 to curb greater warming. Disparities of wealth, power, and opportunity remain while inequalities grow, leaving people struggling to afford food, housing, education, and other basic needs. These complex challenges, and more, are mounting across the world and in the greater Charlottesville area.

Like other entrepreneurial programs, Blue Morning measures its success against standard metrics including follow-on funding, revenue generated, and jobs created. Additionally, we track social and environmental impact metrics relevant to each of our companies. Below, we provide examples of our focus areas and example metrics.

Note that while our primary focus areas are listed below, we’re open to ventures that fall outside of these categories.

Food and agriculture

Agriculture is the largest private industry in Virginia and while it plays a vital role in Virginia’s economy, its practices greatly impact our climate and ecosystems. We seek companies with solutions and proven models that advance sustainable agriculture production, reduce agricultural GHG emissions, improve local food distribution, and increase access to healthy, affordable food. Examples of impact metrics we track:

  • Waste reduction and upcycling
  • Production of local food and high-value agriculture products
  • Soil health and regeneration
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy for the ag sector
  • Access and awareness of healthy, affordable food alternatives

Climate and Energy

Climate change is one of the leading global challenges and its effects threaten both natural ecosystems and the built environment. In Virginia, these threats include increased frequency and severity of storms, sea level rise, water shortages, heat waves, and negative public health outcomes. As energy demand continues to rise, how we source, produce, and consume energy carries consequential impact on our systems. We seek companies that can accelerate the transition to clean energy, reduce energy-related pollution and carbon emissions, increase access to affordable, renewable energy, and drive decarbonization.

  • Energy reduction and lowering of energy costs
  • Renewable energy production and access
  • Carbon emissions reduction or sequestration
  • Electrification

Water

Upwards of half of Virginia’s counties face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century under hotter, drier conditions, while population centers near Virginia’s coast face increasing flood risks from rising sea levels and destructive storm surges intensified by climate change. The Hampton Roads region is experiencing one of the highest rates of sea level rise along the East coast, which drives greater urgency for water innovations to be tested and deployed. We seek companies that address wastewater and stormwater management, in addition to those that support protection and restoration of marine ecosystems. Examples of metrics we track:

  • Water recycling and reuse
  • Irrigation efficiency
  • Recurrent flooding mitigation
  • Areas of marine ecosystems restored
  • Water restoration and best practices

Economic Development & Workforce Advancement

New and young companies drive job creation in the American economy, while a skilled workforce supports higher productivity and is a key driver in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Virginia holds a well-educated and productive workforce, yet several regions have low educational attainment and the state lags in providing talent for middle-skills employment. We look for companies that advance technical skills development, expand economic opportunities, and promote the advancement of groups that have been historically underrepresented. Examples of metrics we track:

  • Candidate pools and hiring funnels
  • Employee ownership
  • Employees overall and employment status and tenure
  • Employees reporting to female managers and employees reporting to managers from underrepresented groups
  • Female/minority entrepreneurs and female/minority-led companies