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Feb 5, 2024

What is EcoTech?

Sponsored Content provided by Heather McWhorter - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This article was contributed by Paige O’Neill, MBA, NCET Program Manager.

Are you tired of polluted floodwaters drowning your community? Are you worried about coastal erosion near your beach home? Are you exasperated with the lack of access to quality fish products in underserved communities?

Ecosystem Technology, or EcoTech, is an emerging branch of applied science that combines understanding of living ecological systems with technological advances to ensure safe and sustainable solutions. In short, this means to provide scientific innovations that have limited adverse effects on the surrounding environment, or in some cases augment services provided by natural environments. Some examples of EcoTech applications include:

  • Developing novel technology (drones, sensors) to proactively monitor flooding so communities can proactively mitigate floodwater and saltwater intrusion. 
  • Optimizing sea grass restoration along the shoreline to protect coastal communities from hurricanes and tropical storms and positively impacting the commercial and recreational fishing industry. 
  • Engineering technological advances for finfish and shellfish farms that produce healthy seafood while simultaneously protecting the water quality, allowing more people access to low-cost, healthy protein from regional producers at no cost to the environment.  
The Biotechnology industry focuses on harnessing processes developed at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level to create, for example, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Similarly, EcoTech focuses on nature-based resources to provide advanced innovative solutions for community well-being. 

Common issues such as access to clean water, clean air, and climate hazards: wildfires, floods, drought, and ocean warming can be mitigated through innovative EcoTech solutions. Coastal communities require increased technology innovation to enhance climate resilience, preserve nature, provide sustainable aquaculture, and protect shorelines.

The North Carolina Ecosystem Technology (NCET)’s Innovation Engine is focused on advancing EcoTech solutions for rapid deployment in our coastal communities to mitigate pollution, sequester carbon, provide food, protect coastlines, and purify air and water systems. Deployment of EcoTech solutions will also provide opportunities for small business development, workforce development through new EcoTech jobs, and decreased environmental impacts. 

Doesn’t everyone in our coastal communities want cleaner water, sustainable ocean shorelines, better storm and flood mitigation, and environmentally safe wastewater solutions? If yes, EcoTech is the emerging science that will bring these technology innovations to your community. 

If you are interested in aligning or partnering with NCET to build, fund, and implement EcoTech solutions, please email [email protected] or call Paige O’Neill, NCET Program Manager at (910) 939-9539.
Heather McWhorter, MS, PE, is the director of the UNCW CIE and on the team of principal investigators of NCET. CIE nurtures high-impact startups with education, connections, and incubation and collision space, and accelerates the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern North Carolina as a vibrant hub of innovation. For more information, please visit

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