A growing ocean cluster is seeding Alaska’s blue economy and attracting interest from around the world.
“The primary motivation is that globally the oceans are being viewed as the last economic frontier and there is a big push to develop them. Our hope is that Alaska becomes a leader in this area and this blue economy and sustainable development of our ocean resources.”
Joel Cladouhos is director of Alaska’s Ocean Cluster Initiative that launched in July. It includes a partnership of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association and the state University to create an ‘economic ecosystem’ that connects people with a common goal.
“We’re all familiar with marine ecosystems but an economic ecosystem involve innovation and entrepreneurs and educators in order to build up that foundation in order to grow businesses, innovate new products and grow from the bottom up.”
A big blue focus is on high tech advances in robotics, undersea drones, ocean renewables and marine medicines.
“The marine biotechnology is using the non protein components of the fish – the skins and bones and fins and crab shells used for high value compounds in pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments among other things so that’s one real area of growth globally and a big opportunity for Alaska.”
Cladouhos says the timing is right for blue growth Alaska.
“Google different maritime initiatives and you can see there is huge potential to develop the oceans in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way. So I think right now is the time for Alaska to get on board with the blue economy because it does have the potential to be bigger than oil and gas if we have the appropriate long term strategy.”
Blue growth will headline a panel at a Sept. 18-21 global Oceans ’17 conference at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage – in Alaska for the first time.
That’s followed on October 7 with the OTIS kick off – an Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint by Google Ventures where teams will build solutions to problems over five days. Alaskans can apply through September 26.
Tune in each week to Ocean Tuesday talks via Zoom video that connect with multiple Alaska communities and countries.
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