What do the following have in common?  Marine biology program.  Emergency physician practice. Technology to extract contaminants.  Data and insights platform. Trucking app and online platform. Fishing gear recycling program.  Least-cost ballast water treatment system.  White fish jerky.  Zero-emission electric outboard motor. Battery-powered energy storage system. Exhaust gas after treatment system. 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.

About the Maritime Blue Accelerator

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.  They also want to make the industry more environmentally friendly.

The program is highly competitive. Out of 100 applications, only 11 companies were selected.

WeWork Labs of Seattle is housing these startups and will provide programming over an accelerated 4-month period.  Participating startups will receive mentorship from Maritime Blue’s coalition of industry experts. They will also get opportunities for enterprise pilots and sales. Finally they will get 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 the innovation accelerator’s first program session, Conducting Market Research. There 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. It was definitely an n-way process.

I was struck by how quickly they were able to start helping each other. Participants were quick to offer 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 what can be accomplished when we apply tech and innovation resources to mature industries like the maritime industry.  Innovation potential is everywhere.  And 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.

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