The systems we depend upon – e.g. agriculture, water, and energy – face sizable threats from a warming planet and growing population. Addressing these problems presents significant market opportunities for companies in addition to supporting workforce expansion across our communities.
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 areas of focus are food & agriculture, energy, and water systems, we’re open to working with ventures that fall outside of these industries.
Food and agriculture
Agriculture is the largest private industry in Virginia and while it plays a vital role to Virginia’s economy, its practices greatly impact our climate and ecosystems, from use of natural resources to emitting of greenhouse gases. We seek companies with solutions that enable more efficient agriculture production and distribution, reduce agricultural GHG emissions, 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 our natural ecosystems and built environment. In Virginia, these risks 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 over the coming decades, 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
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
Workforce Development & 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 some regions have low educational attainment and the state lags in providing talent for middle-skills employment. And, in Virginia and beyond, women and minorities continue to face entrenched hurdles in the workplace and venture ecosystem. We look for companies that advance technical skills development, expand economic opportunities, and promote the advancement of women, people of color, and groups that have been historically underrepresented. Examples of metrics we track:
- Candidate pools and hiring funnels
- Trainings on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- 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