With 10th Anniversary Approaching, Propeller Scales up Water Innovation GNOF Funds Expansion of 2016

GNOF Funds Expansion of 2016 Water Challenge for Social Entrepreneurs

6 July 2015

NEW ORLEANS, LA (June 25, 2015) – With the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just two months away, Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation announces its plans to expand entrepreneurial solutions to pressing regional issues such as urban storm water management and coastal erosion.

The social innovation incubator will launch the 2016 Water Challenge this coming fall with the support of $170,360 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, providing more tailored, expansive offerings to water innovators, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to grow the emerging water industry.

Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen said, “The 2016 Water Challenge will build upon the momentum of the 2015 Water Challenge and add Propeller’s own programming and mission to drive measurable environmental impact and develop a thriving water economy.”

As part of the 2015 Water Challenge, Propeller piloted their first sector-specific accelerator program for 13 social entrepreneurs in water management. Over the course of the program, Propeller water entrepreneurs have secured 1,330 acres of Louisiana wetlands for permanent protection, installed rain harvesting systems to keep 900,000 projected gallons of water annually on-site and out of storm drains, and pioneered long-lasting storm protection for all neighborhoods in coastal Louisiana through the large-scale planting of hurricane-resistant cypress forests.

Building on the success of last year’s pilot accelerator for water entrepreneurs, Propeller recently announced the re-structuring of its core accelerator program. The expanded program will serve up to twice as many entrepreneurs and take a sector-based approach, offering tailored support and industry expertise to ten social ventures in each of their four issue areas: water management, food security, healthcare, and educational equity. Mike Eckert, former CEO of the Weather Channel, will lead the Water Sector as Lead Mentor. Propeller is currently accepting applications from idea, pilot, and development stage ventures until July 31, 2015. Applications are available at gopropeller.org/accelerator/apply.

Now in its 6th year, the Water Challenge will offer business acceleration and financial support for early- and growth- stage water entrepreneurs. This will include events, sector convenings, a business pitch competition, and policy work around issues that will either inhibit or potentially grow the water industry. The Water Challenge will culminate in a day-long event highlighting entrepreneurial opportunities in the regional water economy at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, taking place this year March 11-16, 2016.

“Year after year, we invest in the Water Challenge because we see the impact it’s having on growing the regional water economy,” said Ella Delio, director of environmental and regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “Now with Propeller, we’re investing in two entrepreneur tracks which will help address the different needs of start-up enterprises and growth companies working to resolve our region’s water issues.  We are hoping that this kind of tailored approach will help these enterprises grow at a faster rate.”