Virginia Maritime Initiatives
The Hampton Roads Maritime Collaborative for Growth & Innovation (HRMC) and Old Dominion University (ODU) have unveiled two major maritime initiatives to advance the region’s economic development: the establishment of the ODU Maritime Initiative to advance ODU as a globally recognized institution for maritime opportunities, and the report “A Pathway for Maritime Innovation in Hampton Roads” prepared by TEConomy Partners that identifies four opportunities to leverage and expand the region’s innovation and workforce support for industry partners.
The ODU Maritime Initiative will coordinate and grow the university’s maritime-related degree and certificate programs, talent development, entrepreneurship, and research and innovation. It will expand opportunities to engage industry partners across a broad spectrum of maritime domains, including the Port of Virginia, offshore wind energy, the Navy, shipbuilding and repair, autonomous systems, and cybersecurity in catalyzing workforce, research and innovation. The university will shortly begin a national search for a leader of the initiative.
The TEConomy report recommends four pathways the Hampton Roads community could take to focus on maritime economic opportunities: develop a national hub for autonomous systems; organize a maritime small business innovation collaborative; establish a Department of Defense center of excellence for naval sustainment and mission engineering; and build a sustainable home and brand for maritime innovation in Hampton Roads.
Hampton Roads is already putting the pathway recommendations and ODU’s leadership role into action. On behalf of a coalition of Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina partners, Reinvent Hampton Roads recently submitted an application for the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The application, “Reinvent Hampton Roads,” identified the theme of maritime innovation as an industry cluster, with three of the seven projects proposed based directly upon the “Pathways” report.