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DEIC is Awarded Department of Energy Grant to Support Hydrogen and Nuclear Startups

The Dominion Energy Innovation Center, a public private partnership founded in 2009 by Hanover County, Town of Ashland, and Dominion Energy, was recently announced as a semifinalist in the Department of Energy’s EPIC Prize Challenge. Along with the recognition of being one of the top 24 energy incubators in the United States, the DEIC was awarded a $50,000 grant to develop new programming in support of nuclear and hydrogen technology startups. 

SPARK Virginia, the DEIC’s EPIC proposal, specifically identified nuclear and hydrogen as key technology areas that Virginia has been a global leader in at all levels, including at the Commonwealth’s public research universities, federal government labs, and private energy companies. “As the Commonwealth accelerates its push towards net-zero by 2050, there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done decarbonizing heavy industry in the State, and what can’t be electrified will need to be fueled by clean hydrogen or high-temperature steam,” said Braden Croy, Program Director at the DEIC.

Hanover County is uniquely positioned to help support advanced energy startups because of its central proximity to the State’s existing nuclear fleet and its position along Interstate-95, a key transportation corridor that will eventually be serviced by a series of hydrogen fueling stations. “Between our advanced logistics centers, existing energy assets, and highly skilled workforce, Hanover is excited to help support this next step in the energy transition,” said Hanover County Economic Development Director, Linwood Thomas. “Almost every major corporation across the United States is looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint.  We are currently witnessing companies throughout the Greater Richmond Region making the shift in the near future to fuel cell electric forklifts and trucks that will run solely on hydrogen.  Through the work taking place at the Dominion Energy and Innovation Center, we are proud to play a small role in the evolution of green technologies that will power our communities for years to come.”

The SPARK Program will focus on supporting the earliest stage technology companies by helping to build an innovation cluster across the State that is creating solutions for the entire value chain – making it safer and easier to build, generate, transmit, and consume nuclear and hydrogen power in Virginia and beyond. The DEIC will kick off SPARK with a set of two public innovation challenges hosted in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas that will award early commercialization grants to inventors and engineers who have been developing hardware solutions in the fields of membranes and alloys, fuel production and storage, cryogenics and heat exchange, compression and liquefaction, and advanced industrial sensing.

Anyone interested in learning more about the DEIC or SPARK program should reach out to Braden Croy by email at and keep an eye out for the official registration launch of the two innovation challenges planned for February and March.