(Photo obtained under Creative Commons license by Wikimedia Commons user Farragutful)
An Eastern Shore company that makes a system for permeable paving raised $650,000 from investors, including a pair of funds affiliated with the state’s public universities.
The investment for PaverGuide is the fifth for the Maryland Momentum Fund, which was created by the University System of Maryland to back companies that arise from research on its campuses. The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund also invested $300,000. Easton-based PinOak Capital invested as well, making it an all-Maryland round.
Formed in 2015, CEO Charlie White drew on experience with paving and water control to create a system with environmental implications.
PaverGuide is designed to reduce stormwater runoff, and White said he specifically had urban streetscapes in mind.
The company’s product itself is a structural base for paving systems that allows the water running through permeable pavement to be collected in a “reservoir” below, and drain into the soil rather than waterways. Made of recycled plastic, it’s designed as an alternative to the stone base that is typically used.
Working with the University of Maryland, the company also developed a media that’s designed to filter phosphorous and metals from the stormwater that are pollutants.
Stormwater management is a key focus for those interested in the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Asphalt isn’t permeable, meaning water that typically would’ve been absorbed into the ground instead runs off into waterways. The excess can create environmental issues in rivers and streams. As it flows the stormwater can also pick up substances that ultimately pollute the waterways where the stormwater ends up flowing, such as the bay. The polluted stormwater can affect the ecosystem by leading to algal blooms that cut off oxygen in the bay. There are also implications for climate change, including increasing the water temperature and contributing to sea level rise.
Along with the environmental implications, White said the product is also faster to install. At 3.5 inches deep, it can capture as much water as the stone-based system’s 10 inches. Being shallower also reduces how much ground needs to be excavated.
“This is a way to lower the cost of installing permeable pavement in those urban environments,” he said.
Along the way the Worton-based company has worked with Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, and received funding from TEDCO and Salisbury University through its Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery Competition. It’s also taken part in national accelerators including PureBlue’s Aqualyst and Philly-based Climate Ventures 2.0.
The media that filters pollutants was developed jointly with Allen Davis, a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland, and received funding through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program.
While said the new funding will help the company as it expands its sales team and reach across the country.
This is the second investment from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund, an environmentally focused fund administered by the College Park-based Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and supported by funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Those two teams jointly review all investments.
Jolene Gurevich, manager of the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund, said the company has shown traction since the initial investment in 2017.
“We believe that PaverGuide’s CEO, Charlie White, has the ability to build a strong sales team and scale the company, creating more green jobs in Maryland, as well as reducing the flow of nutrients into the Bay,” Gurevich said.-30-
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