Next Tuesday is the big day for 11 companies participating in our Maritime Blue Accelerator Showcase. After several months of coaching, training, and purposeful networking the second cohort of our new accelerator program will graduate. Each company founder gets their diploma by pitching their company’s products or services to a large online audience. It’s a big day for the companies as they get a chance to shine and potentially hook up with interested investors, mentors, and supporters.
The Port of Seattle helped jumpstart the Maritime Blue Accelerator last year to spur innovation that would benefit our state’s maritime industry. We also sponsored the accelerator to test our case surrounding redevelopment of our Historic Ship Supply building into a modern Maritime Innovation Center (MInC). If we were going to put millions into this model facility, we needed to make sure there was an ongoing fountain of maritime entrepreneurial energy that would sustain the MInC.
So far, the test is working. Companies in the first Maritime Blue Cohort have made notable progress:
- Discovery Health quickly and capably expanded into COVID testing and has been a huge resource to the fishing industry.
- Pure Watercraft raised $37.5 million to further scale its electric outboard motor system.
- Net Your Problem is establishing net recycling facilities at Fishermen’s Terminal and in Alaska and California
These companies and others in the 2020 class showed that we could launch a maritime innovation program that would prime Washington’s maritime industry with productive new ideas and energy. This year’s Blue Accelerator cohort is an exciting group that further solidifies our region’s maritime innovation pathway:
- Puget Buoy won the University of Washington’s Environmental Innovation Challenge for its development of a new crab pot that avoids whale entanglements.
- Several participating companies have secured equity investments to advance their ventures
The Blue Accelerator’s 2021 cohort is a great group of entrepreneurs that can make a difference for our maritime industry. Companies in the first two Blue cohorts show that the Maritime industry is alive and well. Five of the companies have asked us if we had space for their operations during or after the accelerator. This is a good future and vision to build around at the Port’s MInC.
Our facility centers around a vision where we can support hundreds of maritime entrepreneurs in the generations ahead. The MInC can be a rallying point that anchors a broader maritime innovation district and hub. It can serve as a beacon that brings our region’s world class entrepreneurial ecosystem to the waterfront.
Before this vision becomes a reality, the Port has more work to do. We need to finish our design for the MInC, and it will take another two years before it can be fully reconstructed. The Port is pursuing a Living Building Challenge certification. This rigorous green building standard makes sure that the innovation center will operate in a manner that supports sustainability and equity.
The Port also needs to develop and execute a master lease agreement to operate the facility. Balancing public and tenant access to the facility with the needs of innovative tenants will be important. The Port wants the MInC to be a showcase facility where fishers can mingle with entrepreneurs, where celebrations and industry gatherings can be staged.
The Port of Seattle will take these steps and others to make sure the MInC inspires generations of maritime innovation. It’s exciting to see the momentum growing behind this project to anchor Washington’s maritime future at Fishermen’s Terminal in one of the Port of Seattle’s oldest buildings.