Editorial – February 2020

Accelerating Blue Growth

Elizabeth Scallon,
WeWork Labs, Northern California/Northwest

The Maritime Blue Innovation Accelerator is the first Washington state maritime accelerator and among only a handful that exist in the U.S., established by Washington Maritime Blue, the Port of Seattle and WeWork Labs. The goal is to demonstrate the capabilities, opportunities and leadership our region has to be a global innovation hub for the blue economy.
Eleven promising start-ups were selected for the first cohort of the accelerator, which began January 2020. They were picked from more than 100 applicants.

The chosen start-ups are: Beam Reach, which catalyzes marine research and education about the oceans, bioacoustics and sustainability across the critical habitat of the endangered orcas, from northern California to British Columbia, with a focus on Puget Sound and the Salish Sea to empower future generations to protect our orca population; Discovery Health MD, which offers a suite of services to improve health at every stage of a mariner’s career, reduce an employer’s risk exposure, and alleviate the fear and anxiety of providing medical care at sea; ecoSpears, which is a clean-tech-solutions company utilizing green, NASA-developed environmental technology for the cost-effective, sustainable and permanent extraction and destruction of persistent environmental toxins; eOceans, which is building data and analytical software to make sure ocean science can keep pace with business, society and ocean change; Equll, which has a digital platform that helps eliminate waste and inefficiencies through technological solutions that directly connect truck owner-operators and shippers by automating the entire process; Net Your Problem, which provides fishing gear recycling services to fishermen and fishing companies then upcycles the gear into raw plastic that’s transformed into a variety of new products; oneTank, which markets, sells, assembles, tests and delivers a simple, small, low-consumption and low-cost ballast water treatment system; OneForNeptune, which is changing the food industry with healthy, high-protein snacks made from sustainable seafood products; Pure Watercraft, which develops high-performance electric outboard motors and battery packs to enable a new era of enjoyable, accessible, environmentally friendly boating; SPBES, which provides high-power lithium-ion energy storage to hybridize or electrify heavy industrial equipment; and MER Equipment, which is building a new engine exhaust gas after-treatment system to reduce fuel consumption while also decreasing nitrogen-oxide particulate matter as a lighter, smaller, less costly alternative to diesel engines.

These entrepreneurs will benefit from intensive programming over a four-month period. Start-ups will receive access to the Washington Maritime Blue industry and ocean leaders alongside WeWork Labs’ global network of mentors and advisers. This will be a powerful opportunity for local companies to grow and secure funding in a sector where capital is often scarce.

The accelerator will conclude in April 2020 with a formal Showcase Day, when the start-ups will pitch their ideas to a curated audience of investors, mentors, corporate partners and government officials. The Showcase Day will coincide with the annual Maritime Blue Summit that will attract hundreds from around the world.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts the global ocean economy is expected to double to $3 trillion by 2030. We must employ sustainable solutions and accelerate innovation that addresses current climate and ocean health challenges to enable responsible growth of the blue economy.

The Washington Maritime Blue cluster organization is a strategic alliance formed to accelerate innovation and sustainability, building on one of the most diverse, interdependent and strong maritime and ocean economies in the U.S. With Washington’s strengths in technology development, advanced manufacturing and a culture of best practices, our region will be able to grow jobs, protect the environment and support resilient communities.