RALEIGH — Local climate technology company Natrx has raised more than $3.5 million in its oversubscribed Seed funding round and is celebrating by heading out of state.
The company, jointly managed between North Carolina and Louisiana, will be using the influx of cash, in part, to begin work on projects in Louisiana and Hawaii. According to Natrx Brand Lead Dylan DiBona, these will be the first to take place outside NC.
“It’s an expansion of our vision,” DiBona told WRAL TechWire. “While what we do remains the same in principle, it allows us to think more broadly about how that can be applied. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time.”
A Platform of Resilience
Natrx specializes in nature-based infrastructure technologies and delivers solutions for coastal resilience, adaptation, and restoration. Their platform is built around three interconnected capabilities: Assess, Address, and Appraise.
The “Assess” piece uses artificial intelligence to identify coastal risks with a model examining coastal data available from public and private data sources. The feedback helps Natrx understand the environment they’re working with and make plans down to a 3-5 meter level of accuracy, avoiding larger-scale solutions that might have unintended consequences.
“We felt that with technology, there must be a way to more accurately discover the opportunities to affect what’s happening, without having to affect the surrounding habitat,” DiBona explained. “So, at a very general level, this is a way for us to diagnose the issues that are happening along any coastline sort of environment.”
The “Address” piece creates custom-designed structures to help solve coastline and marine issues. This piece involves the company’s patented Dry Forming manufacturing technology. The process was created by Natrx co-founder and President, Matt Campbell.
Dry Forming is the creation of large concrete structures in specific shapes. These custom cubes can “look like anything”, and are able to be designed to provide the best structure for integration with the surrounding area. Voids in the cubes can be used to provide homes for marine life and moderate – rather than block – wave energy.
“[We’re] not just addressing whatever the erosion issues is,” said DiBona. “We actually believe this is the most powerful way to address challenges and restore the natural systems, rather than some sort of completely manmade solution that knocks out the natural system. Maybe [that’s] effective in the short term, but in the long term it’s possibly not beneficial to the local habitat.”
The final capability, “Appraise,” examines completed projects to determine the financial and ecological benefits.
Since Natrx has been focused on North Carolina projects up to this point they have good examples studding the coastline, including projects at Hog Island, Havelock, and Bayview. The company will be celebrating their latest project next week, 3-D printed reef structures being submerged near the mouth of the Pamlico River.
With the company having just closed its Seed Round, with support from Ponderosa Ventures and Oval Park Capital among others, there is an air of possibility.
“If you come into our office, it’s very dusty because these guys are working constantly on new ideas,” DiBona said. “It’s kind of really fascinating to be around to see how they think about this stuff.”
In the meantime, this funding will enable expansion and commercialization at a bigger level. And DiBona is enthusiastic about the potential of the company to grow its products as it expands.
“As we grow [we’ll] be able to offer solutions in other environments. It could be watershed environments or deep water environments. There are a million ideas for how to apply the basic core principles of what we’re doing to many other environments.”