This year’s cohort from the Washington Maritime Blue innovation accelerator offers a peek at a robust and expanded “blue” economy and the value of this fledgling organization.
Less than three years after it was launched, Maritime Blue is hitting its stride, making connections between businesses, researchers, public-sector partners and community organizations to build on Washington’s maritime heritage. It is encouraging the growth and development of innovative, environmentally responsible companies and projects, and helping train a diverse young workforce for well-paying maritime careers.
Maritime Blue is funded by the Port of Seattle, private memberships and sponsorships, state and federal grants, and philanthropy. It serves as a hub connecting approximately 120 members that include a broad cross-section of private companies, research centers like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, public entities like the Washington State Department of Transportation, several ports, economic development agencies and nonprofits.
This is the second group of startups and new ventures to graduate from the nonprofit’s four-month accelerator, which helps jump-start innovation by giving participants access to mentorship and a global network of advisers and potential funders.
They include Marine Construction Technologies, a public benefit company working to reduce the noise impact of underwater pile driving; OpenTug, an online tool intended to simplify logistics and optimize shipping markets; Pacific Mobility Group, a social purpose corporation that includes a focus on sustainable transit infrastructure; Silverback Marine, a custom boat building and design company; and Puget Buoy, which develops and tests designs for innovative fishing gear.
They will present their ideas, along with the rest of this year’s cohort, at a virtual showcase on May 18.
Last year’s cohort was similarly diverse, including businesses focused on maritime workforce protections, decarbonization technology, environmental remediation, sustainability, electrification, digitization and conservation education.
The accelerator is just one way Maritime Blue is helping advance Washington’s ocean-based economy. A new 12-month incubator at the Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma will focus on port operations, shipping and logistics. The Youth Maritime program and internships help train youth of color for well paying maritime jobs.
Several joint innovation projects are in the works, including a zero-emission, whale-safe fast foil ferry and an early COVID-19 detection system for maritime use.
These are impressive early accomplishments from such a lean and broad-ranging organization, and a worthwhile investment of public funds.