There is a big push to develop the world’s oceans and Alaska aims to be a part of that blue economy.
Alaska’s blue economy includes traditional sectors such as fisheries and tourism as well as new ventures from underwater drones to biofuels to kelp beer.
To hone a wave of blue entrepreneurs a second Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint will task 30 Alaskans this month with finding a problem and a prototype solution for a venture of their choice. They will be assigned to five teams and meet one day a week for five weeks and then demo their ideas to the public.
While the meet ups are mostly in Anchorage, teams also can connect virtually from anywhere in the state.
“They are live streamed in to every event and also has digital conferencing technology so they can talk with each other and work with each other on a digital whiteboard as if they were in person. 4 It was new last year in response to this interest but it has become a huge part of OTIS because it is meant to be statewide and bring together people from diverse locations.”
Meg Pritchard is marketing and communications manager at the Alaska Ocean Cluster and an OTIS co-organizer. The ultimate goal is to create an economic ecosystem of innovators, educators, businesses and mentors to help grow new products from the bottom up.
Last year’s OTIS winner was a Sea Green energy bar made from 20 percent seaweed. Other teams created a bycatch reduction system with net cameras, a tidal generator and a team investigated using machine learning to count salmon.
Alaska maintains over half the nation’s coastline and a third of the U.S. exclusive economic zone and Pritchard says blue connections are increasing across the state.
“There is a steadily growing network especially in communities across the state of people who are really invested in this and who believe that ocean technology and developing a blue economy is the way we need to develop Alaska’s economy.”
OTIS is a partnership of the Alaska Ocean Cluster, a project of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, and UAA’s Economic Development and Business Enterprise Institute.
Sprint applicants can apply through October 14. OTIS runs from October 20 through Demo Night on November 20.