Mark Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation
Thursday, November 17, 2016

This past week I attended the 8th annual BlueTech & Blue Economy Summit and Tech Expo in San Diego, which is hosted by The Maritime Alliance (TMA).  And, on Friday I was the keynote speaker and moderator for TMA’s first ever session for investors, philanthropists and corporate partners focused on advancing and growing blue technology innovations.  

 

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The goal was to make connections between the folks with ideas to solve problems and make our ocean healthier, with those who might support and invest in them. To launch the day, I talked about the role of The Ocean Foundation (in partnership with the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) to define and track, the total ocean economy, and the sustainable subset of that economy that we call the NEW blue economy.  I also shared two of our own innovative projects, the Rockefeller Ocean Strategy (an unprecedented ocean-centric investment fund) and SeaGrass Grow (the first-ever blue carbon offset program)

The all-day session featured 19 innovators who had made it through pre-screening even before we gathered on Friday.  They were presenting a diverse array of projects that included underwater communications and dead-reckoning, wave generators, ship emissions reduction and prevention, ballast water testing and training, wastewater treatment, research glider drones, robotic removal of marine debris from the surface of the ocean, aquaponics and polyculture aquaculture, oscillating tidal filtration systems, and an AirBnB-like app for visitor dock management for marinas, boat clubs and wharfs.  At the end of each presentation three of us (Bill Lynch of ProFinance, Kevin O'Neil of the O’Neil Group and I) served as an expert panel to pepper those who had pitched their projects with the hard questions about their finance needs, business plans etc. 

It was an inspiring day. We know that we depend on the ocean as our life support system here on earth.  And, we can see and feel that human actions have overburdened and overwhelmed our ocean.  So it was so great to see 19 meaningful projects representing new ideas that can be further developed into commercial applications that help our ocean become healthier.    

While we were gathered on the West Coast, the Savannah Ocean Exchange was occurring on the East Coast. Danni Washington, a friend of The Ocean Foundation, had a similar experience at the Savannah Ocean Exchange, which is an event that showcases “innovative, proactive and globally scalable Solutions with working prototypes that can leap across industries, economies and cultures” according to its website.

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Danni Washington, friend of The Ocean Foundation

Danni shared that she too was “inspired by the innovative ideas and cutting edge solutions in materials, devices, processes, and systems that have been presented at this conference. This experience gives me some hope. There are so many brilliant minds working hard to solve the world's biggest challenges and it's up to us...THE PEOPLE...to support innovators and the applications of their technology for the greater good.”

Here, here, Danni.  And a toast to all those working on solutions!  Let’s all support these hopeful innovators as part of the unified community dedicated to helping to improve the human relationship with the ocean.  

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