What do a marine biology program, an emergency physician practice, a technology to extract contaminants, a data and insights platform, a trucking app and online platform, a fishing gear recycling program, a least-cost ballast water treatment system, a white fish jerky, a zero-emission electric outboard motor, a battery-powered energy storage system, and an exhaust gas after treatment system all have in common?
Okay, the headline may have tipped you off.
They are all innovations from startups participating in the Maritime Blue Innovation Accelerator, the first of its kind in Washington State.
On January 6, WeWork Labs, the Port of Seattle and WA Department of Commerce’s Maritime Blue kicked off their Maritime Blue Innovation Accelerator. The program aims to establish the region as an innovation hub for maritime tech while also making the industry more environmentally friendly.
The program is highly competitive: out of 100 applications, only 11 companies were selected to participate.
WeWork Labs of Seattle is housing these startups and will provide intensive programming over an accelerated 4-month period. In addition, startups will receive access to the WeWork Labs’ global network of mentors and advisors, and have the opportunity to connect with the larger WeWork community. They will also receive mentorship, drawing on Maritime Blue’s coalition of industry experts, as well as opportunities for enterprise pilots and sales, and strong connections to the vast, global maritime industry. The program concludes in April with a demo day, where the startups will pitch to investors and government officials.
I had the opportunity to lead their first program session, Conducting Market Research, where we covered four key research questions startups must address, and some approaches they could take. It was energizing to hear the perspectives and contributions from each participant – definitely an n-way process.
What particularly struck me was how quickly they were able to start helping each other, offering insights, resources and contacts. Because they all work in the same eco-system and share a commitment to doing something larger for the environment, the conversations were immediately fruitful. I have no doubt these relationships will prove valuable over time.
Come On In – The Water’s Warm(ing)!
Focusing on a single industry also brings important critical mass. It’s heartening to see the possibilities for what can be accomplished when we apply tech and innovation resources not only to emerging industries but to mature ones like the maritime industry. Innovation potential is everywhere. Future startup accelerators should consider more approaches like this.
For a full list of participants, and more details about the program please see the Port of Seattle’s announcement here.
Photo courtesy of WeWork. Thanks to Esther Lee, WeWork Labs’ Head of Curriculum; Lauren Levy, WeWork Labs’ Operations Coordinator; and Elizabeth Scallon, WeWorks Lab Head of Northern California (SF) & Northwest.