A Northern California-based company that makes intelligent tracking buoys for commercial fishing fleets is one of six companies that have been named as members of a new program that helps companies aiming to improve ocean health.
The University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation and SeaAhead, a benefit corporation with the mission of supporting new venture development, along with the support of partners including Jackson State University, has selected the first cohort of blue technology startup companies for the Gulf Blue Navigator.
The six-month program provides scaling startups with innovations relevant to the ocean, proximity to federal agencies, technical facilities and expertise. With an emphasis on shortening the timeline of development and market access, the Gulf Blue Navigator positions blue technology startups for success by leveraging the existing strengths and capabilities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The selection committee narrowed the total applicant pool from 48 applicants across 12 countries to select the final six startup companies. Each will receive support for their costs for the program, including travel to the Gulf Coast over the six-month program. The startup companies from the West Coast are:
- Blue Ocean Gear: A Northern California company that creates intelligent tracking buoys for commercial fishing fleets, aquaculture farms, and ocean observers, helping them save time and money while gaining critical operational insights.
- SEATREC: A San Diego County-based energy harvesting systems company that generates electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters to power deep water oceanographic research equipment such as floats, gliders, and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), for deep ocean data collection.
The Gulf Blue Navigator program includes advanced interactive workshops taught by practitioners in the field, site visits with large industry and federal agencies, co-working space at the historic Gulf and Ship Island Building in Gulfport, Mississippi and customized mentorship to meet the needs of each startup.
The program kicked off the first week of November.
“The Gulf Blue Navigator program will act as a ‘Gateway to the Gulf,’ as it is a bridge to connect promising bluetech startups to the unique capabilities and infrastructure on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” SeaAhead Managing Director Mark Huang said.
The Gulf Blue Navigator program is funded by the Builders Initiative, Mississippi Department of Environmental, Members of Coast Electric Power Association through their Operation Round Up program in partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, with additional financial support from Harrison County Development Commission, Port of Gulfport, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Leidos, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission and Keesler Federal Credit Union.
“Gulf Blue Navigator is a great program that will help advance blue economy business solutions to solve some of the most pressing issues facing our oceans,” Builders Initiative Program Director Peter Bryant said. “The … business accelerator support of SeaAhead’s venture studio programs will spur innovation and help burgeoning entrepreneurs in the blue economy obtain the skills and assistance they need to grow their businesses.”