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Dominion Energy Innovation Center Launches SPARK VIRGINIA Innovation Challenge

Federal Award will go Towards Establishing the SPARK Program to Support Nuclear and Hydrogen Value Chain Innovation across Virginia

Ashland, VA – The Dominion Energy Innovation Center (“DEIC”) has announced the launch of a new statewide program to build an advanced energy innovation cluster focused on making it safer and easier to build, generate, transmit, and consume nuclear and hydrogen energy. “As the Commonwealth accelerates its push towards net-zero by 2050, there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done decarbonizing heavy industry and transportation in the State, and what can’t be electrified with reliable clean energy will need to be fueled by clean hydrogen, high-temperature steam, and other integrated energy systems,” said Braden Croy, Program Director at the DEIC.

The SPARK Virginia program focuses on supporting the earliest stage technology companies through a series of regional innovation challenges, beginning February 23rd and 24th with SPARK RVA hosted in Richmond at the VCU DaVinci Center. Over 24 hours participants will have the opportunity to team up, hear from experts, develop commercialization plans, and pitch for $8,500 in non-dilutive grant funding to advance Virginia’s energy economy using technologies they have developed in a university lab or independently.

“VCU is proud to be home to one of the top nuclear engineering programs in the Country and by partnering with the DEIC on SPARK RVA, the Da Vinci Center is excited about giving our regional innovators the opportunity to explore the commercial viability of their work with non-dilutive funding and expert industry support,” said Garret Westlake, Executive Director of the VCU da Vinci Center.

DEIC is launching SPARK Virginia with initial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy as a semifinalist in the EPIC Prize challenge. EPIC Prize applicants from across the United States included incubators that aid in the development of new ventures, business accelerators, coworking start-up communities, and other organizations that support high-tech startups.

SPARK Virginia specifically identifies 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. “Virginia is like no other state when it comes to the nuclear industry,” said April Wade, Executive Director of Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium. “From commercial power to research and development at our universities, and naval propulsion at the shipyards in Newport News, Virginia is a world leader in nuclear. This leadership will continue to be strong as we move forward with advanced nuclear technologies and advanced reactors.”

The program will bring together a wide variety of partners for the regional challenges, from corporate sponsors like Dominion Energy to state universities and the Virginia Energy Workforce Consortium. “Utilities across the country are exploring advanced nuclear energy and clean hydrogen fuel systems as future energy sources in order to meet net-zero targets while still providing reliable and affordable energy to customers,” said Mark Webb, Chief Innovation Officer at Dominion Energy. “We have been a leader in nuclear energy for decades and are well-positioned to advance innovations in nuclear technology and we’ve begun to explore the many ways clean hydrogen can help us decarbonize the energy we produce and deliver.”

To learn more about the SPARK Virginia program, checkout the DEIC’s program webpage at and register for the upcoming SPARK RVA innovation challenge taking place February 23 & 24 at VCU. The DEIC will be hosting SPARK 757 late March with partners from across the Hampton Roads region. Contact Braden Croy at with questions or to get involved.

About Dominion Energy Innovation Center
The Dominion Energy Innovation Center, located in Ashland, Virginia, supports early-stage advanced technology companies by providing them with the collaborative space, guidance, and resources needed  to accelerate their growth.

Founded in November 2009, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center accelerates great ideas across a wide spectrum of industry sectors in addition to its focus on building the clean technology sector in Central Virginia. Founding partners of the Center include the signature sponsor, Dominion Energy, as well as Activation Capital, the Town of Ashland and Hanover County.

About VCU da Vinci Center
The VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation is prototyping the future of higher education through cross-disciplinary academic, experiential, and experimental learning opportunities designed for creative thinkers and doers from a wide range of backgrounds. While students in our programs may come with design, engineering, psychology, business, and even social sciences and the arts, they all share common traits of unconventional thinking, a track record of producing highly creative work, and a collaborative and optimistic spirit.

About Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (“VNEC”)
VNEC is a non-profit, corporation established by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the only organization of its kind in the US. It is a public/private partnership whose mission is to support the development of nuclear energy in the Commonwealth; to grow and expand Virginia’s nuclear education, research, commercial and defense-related nuclear energy capabilities, and resources. VNEC’s work has ensured Virginia is the only state to maintain a Nuclear Strategic Plan and has refocused efforts on developing new nuclear capabilities in the State’s latest energy plan.

About Dominion Energy
About 7 million customers in 15 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to safely providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy and to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. Please visit to learn more.

Media Contact
Adam Sledd
(804) 677-3885