The maritime industry has long been an anchor to Washington’s economy. Government and business leaders want to make sure that continues, especially with climate change and sustainability concerns looming.
That’s the ethos behind the state’s first maritime startup accelerator, which officially launched Tuesday evening at the Port of Seattle headquarters.
Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at the event. The maritime industry runs deep in the governor’s family; his grandfather was a salmon fisherman in Seattle.
“I could not be more excited about this because it’s an extension of the basic value system of the state of Washington,” Inslee said, pointing to other local innovation across industries such as retail, gaming, life sciences, and agriculture.
The Port teamed up with WeWork Labs — WeWork’s startup incubator — and Washington Department of Commerce’s Maritime Blue initiative to create the 4-month program. There are 11 companies in the inaugural cohort, ranging from a healthcare provider for mariners to a whitefish jerky maker.
The startups will work out of WeWork Labs’ Seattle location and get access to mentors and advisers. WeWork will facilitate seminars and workshops to help the companies navigate challenges and obstacles.
Accelerators are common in the tech world, but rare in centuries-old industries such as maritime.
WeWork said the maritime industry in Washington state employs 146,000 people with an economic value of $30 billion. However, a lack of capital both in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide restricts innovation.
“We knew from our conversations around the globe that there are entrepreneurs and investors ready to take advantage of the blue economy as it’s growing exponentially in this next decade,” said Joshua Berger, Maritime Sector Lead for Gov. Inslee and board chair for Washington Maritime Blue.
Inslee, the self-declared climate change presidential candidate who exited the race in August, said the accelerator is part of a “larger endeavor we have in the state of Washington.” He noted plans to create the word’s largest hybrid-powered, auto-carrying ferries as one example of reducing emissions and becoming more energy efficient.
“So while we’re cleaning up the maritime industry, we think it’s the right thing to do to clean up terrestrial pollution as well,” Inslee said.
Here’s a look at each participating company, with descriptions from each:
Beam Reach (Seattle)
“Beach Reach catalyzes research and education about bioacoustics and underwater noise pollution within the habitat of endangered orcas.”
Discovery Health MD (Seattle)
“Discovery Health MD offers a suite of services to improve health at ever 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 is a cleantech solutions company utilizing green, NASA-developed environmental technology for cost-effective, sustainable, and permanent extraction and destruction of persistent environmental toxins.”
“Equll is transforming the port drayage industry with a digital platform that directly connects Truck Owner Operators and Shippers; eliminating the excessive waste and inefficiencies by automating the end-to-end process.”
Net Your Problem (Seattle)
“Net Your Problem provides fishing gear recycling services to fishermen and fishing companies. The collected gear is upcycled into raw plastic that’s transformed into a variety of products such as kayaks, bathing suits, carpets and office furniture.”
“oneTank provides the lowest cost, simplest compliant ballast water treatment system for tank ship aft peak tanks and vessels with one or a few ballast tanks.”
“OneForNeptune is changing the food industry with healthy, high-protein snack foods made from sustainable seafood products.”
Pure Watercraft (Seattle)
“Pure Watercraft develops high-performance electric outboard motors and battery packs to enable a new era of enjoyable, accessible, environmentally-friendly boating.”
SPBES (Vancouver, B.C.)
“SPBES provides high power lithium ion energy storage to hybridize or electrify heavy industrial equipment. Purpose engineered for the rigors of the commercial maritime industry, SPBES is safer and longer lasting than any other product on the market.”
“Freeboard is an environmental solution provider operating in the marine sector. Their core technology is SCORRE, an innovative engine exhaust gas treatment system.”
eOceans (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)
“eOceans is building data and analytical software to make sure Ocean science can keep pace with business, society, and ocean change.”