Press release from The Collider:
FernLeaf Interactive and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC)—two inaugural members of The Collider in downtown Asheville—have launched a collaborative public-private partnership this year that has produced greater climate resilience for their hometown and home state, with ongoing projects expanding their impact across the Southeast and the United States—one community at a time.
FernLeaf and NEMAC signed a cooperative agreement in 2018, establishing a public-private partnership that will leverage FernLeaf’s software and systems thinking applications and NEMAC’s applied research expertise in transferring and delivering science and processes to varied audiences. The joint activities will focus on delivering resilience decision support solutions to communities across the United States. Operations of the partnership—to be known as NEMAC+FernLeaf—will be based out of The Collider, a global innovation center for climate entrepreneurs, in downtown Asheville.
”The Collider is thrilled to support the development of the innovative public-private partnership between NEMAC and FernLeaf,” said Josh Dorfman, CEO of The Collider. “It allows UNC Asheville’s faculty, staff, and students to collaborate with community partners and entrepreneurs on the vital work that can lead to a climate-resilient future.”
The public-private partnership utilizes FernLeaf’s proprietary software—AccelAdapt—a tool that empowers local governments to assess vulnerability locally and take actions that are targeted, implementable, and equitable. NEMAC+FernLeaf is in the process of tailoring AccelAdapt to facility-scale customers, with potential projects for airports, campuses, private land developments, and other installations.
AccelAdapt was featured this past summer at the 2018 Esri Users Conference in San Diego. FernLeaf is an emerging business partner with Esri, the global market leader in GIS technology, and relies on their technology stack for much of the functionality of AccelAdapt. NEMAC+FernLeaf occupied a joint booth space in the conference’s StartUp Zone, and Esri recognized the collaborative as a leading example of what they envision their StartUp program to be.
Over the last two years, NEMAC has worked with the City of Asheville in developing the city’s climate resilience assessment, guiding municipal staff through multiple workshops using a framework it helped develop for the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (toolkit.climate.gov). The resilience assessment was incorporated into Asheville’s Comprehensive Plan in June 2018, and work is ongoing on a campaign to communicate the results to the public.
NEMAC+FernLeaf has built on the success of the Asheville assessment, expanding into new markets throughout the southeastern United States. There are several other collaborative projects in the works, including a project that spans six local government entities in the greater Raleigh Triangle region. The Triangle Regional Resiliency Partnership (TRRP)—Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Orange County, Durham, and Durham County—was formed to address the need for a regional resilience assessment. With leadership from Triangle J Council of Governments, the partnership utilized the resilience framework to assess, plan and prioritize resilience-building strategies. Other collaborative NEMAC+FernLeaf resilience assessment projects include efforts in West Palm Beach, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Tallahassee, Florida.
The partnership is actively recruiting undergraduate interns and apprentices to learn about the growing field of resilience. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was an intern at NEMAC myself, and so I am excited to be able to collaborate with them to provide real-world learning opportunities to UNC Asheville students that have real-world impacts” added Jeff Hicks, CEO of FernLeaf Interactive.
“The university is excited about the possibilities for undergraduate students to benefit from the entrepreneurial activities and mentorship opportunities in climate change and resilience that stem from this partnership,” says Edward Katz, UNC Asheville’s Associate Provost.