NOAA Awards First Round of Blue-Tech Accelerator Grants

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The U.S. Department of Commerce has released a new round of funding to blue technology accelerators in order to help kickstart ocean sensing and ocean data innovation. 

NOAA’s Ocean-based Climate Resilience Accelerator program will invest in organizations that support early to mid-stage blue tech businesses, with the goal of bringing new products to market. Given its mission, NOAA is interested in ocean sensing technology, with a particular emphasis on climate-relevant ocean data. 

“The impacts of climate change are visible in communities across America every day,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. “This ocean-based accelerator program connects the government, the private sector, academia, tribes and stakeholders to innovate and produce new ocean, coastal and Great Lakes technologies at a pace that supports the urgent need for resilience nationwide.”

The first phase of awards is small in scale, but still meaningful for budding organizations. It gives $250,000 in development funding to each of the 16 accelerators, equaling a total of $3.9 million.

Many of the accelerators are sponsored by familiar names: Woods Hole, UC San Diego, Old Dominion, University of Hawaii. Others are affiliated with state government, or are operating independently as nonprofits. Some are brand new, and some are well established – like Washington State’s Washington Maritime Blue, the Seattle-based tech incubator for ocean and fishery startups. 

Phase two will be awarded on a competitive basis to the most successful five outfits of the 16 original applicants. The pool is more substantial at $55 million, and comes from the Inflation Reduction Act.

NOAA’s ultimate objective is to “build tools, products, and services that address climate resilience needs and create a climate-ready nation.” Ocean sensing and prediction technologies typically have crossover applications in commercial maritime and defense markets as well. 

“This is a tremendous effort and commitment to the role of early-stage innovation for ocean-based climate solutions,” says Joshua Berger, President/CEO of Maritime Blue. “We are honored to be considered for this transformational opportunity to support our programming and partnerships, and be able to offer non-dilutive capital to startups supporting NOAA’s goals.”

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