Stay in the know with VTCRC news & happenings. Sign up for our email list.

Vaccine rates continue to increase, and regional economies are flickering back to life with a focus on post-pandemic regrowth and stability. COVID-19 restrictions are changing too, and staying up on evolving guidance can become overwhelming for business leaders. The new Public Health Readiness Evaluation (PHRE) mobile app offers help for businesses seeking to safely re-open and thrive.

We sat down with the PHRE tool developer Dr. Matthew Hull, a research scientist at Virginia Tech and president/founder of NanoSafe Inc., located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, to learn more about the PHRE app and how it minimizes the pressures that businesses face due to the ongoing pandemic.

To summarize, ”The PHRE mobile app distills guidance from the CDC, state/local health departments, and emerging best practices into a series of yes/no questions that help business owners assess their readiness to operate with reduced risks to employees, customers, and their communities. Users receive a simple score of 0-100 based on their responses and resources to help them increase their score. The end goal isn’t the score, though. Rather, the goal is improved awareness and risk reduction measures that help keep people safe and businesses operating,” said Matt. “The motivation comes from the time constraints that business leaders face, particularly entrepreneurs; there’s so much they already manage, and the pandemic just added even more to their worries. They need simplicity – a risk assessment they can perform while they’re in line at parent pick-up or waiting on their next ZOOM meeting to start.”

The Public Health Readiness Evaluation tool was funded by GO Virginia (Region 2), a state-funded bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative, that supports government growth and diversity, while fostering business expansion and job creation.

Currently the PHRE is designed for businesses and other organizations located in the New River Valley (local help resources are prioritized), however the app is structured for expansion to other regions within Virginia, and eventually to other states.

“We’re kind of dipping our toes into everything with our initial launch of the app, locally. We’re working with Eksdyne, also located in the VTCRC, as our app developer, and we’re starting with Apple as our first platform. If we are successful in this first phase and can secure additional support, then we can readily adapt the app for Android products and users in other areas. If the tool demonstrably helps businesses, then we can rapidly scale from there,” Hull stated.

The PHRE mobile app is currently available for beta testing. Contact Matt at for further information on how you can become a beta tester. Your feedback will enhance the PHRE app’s ability to help businesses in our area. The team expects to launch the PHRE mobile app through the Apple App Store this Spring.