Using robots and bioengineered bacteria to clean up old fishing boats took home top honors at last month’s Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint, or OTIS.

The Google inspired Sprint concept moves ideas to prototypes within a set time.   In Alaska’s second OTIS, Team Silver bested three others to win the contest with its First Step Marine Refurbishment prototype.

They created a plan for marine refurbishment, ways to use old vessels. Alaska has a very aging fleet of ships and to create new value for these old vessels by getting rid of pollutants and paint removal and connecting people with the best purchase.”   

Meg Pritchard is marketing and communications manager at the Alaska Ocean Cluster which helps grow business ideas to enhance a blue economy.

Last month, sixteen entrepreneurs met together or virtually over four weeks to create prototype solutions for the venture of their choice.  The projects were debuted and judged at a packed house at the Loussac Library in Anchorage.

Team King came up with a FishStat Alaska Wet Ruler – a phone app that manages fishing licenses and regulations, identifies fish, reports catches, and more.

“You take it out while you’re fishing and it measures your catch, records where you caught it – it’s an alternative to traditional methods of measuring and weighing and makes it quick and easy for you in the field.”

Team Coho conceptualized an Alaska Marine Biotechnology Institute that focuses on uses for sea organisms and systems.

The Fan Favorite was Team Sockeye’s Happy Clam Portable PSP Tester. Just swab the shellfish with a test strip and the kit tells if it is safe to eat.

The Alaska Ocean Cluster is modeled after a program that began decades ago in Iceland to connect entrepreneurs, academia and businesses and bring blue economy ideas to fruition.

The Alaska Cluster sees its role as a mentor for incubating new businesses.

“ For people who are interested and want to keep going we have other programs, like our Blue Pipeline Initiative and our scale accelerator that takes viable business ideas and helps them scale up.”

The Cluster also hosts Ocean Tuesdays, a weekly webinar platform open to all to exchange blue economy challenges and ideas in Alaska and globally.

The Alaska Ocean Cluster is funded by the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association in partnership with the University of Alaska’s Economic Development and Business Enterprise Institute.