SeaAhead and New England Aquarium Announce The BlueSwell Incubator’s First Cohort of Selected Startups
Friday, October 30, 2020, 08:00 (GMT + 9)
Six companies focused on ocean sustainability and global resilience will enter the program in November
BOSTON, MASS. – SeaAhead, Inc. and the New England Aquarium have selected the first cohort of six startups for the BlueSwell Incubator Program, New England’s first dedicated, early-stage bluetech incubator. The program is designed to support the creation and growth of startups with solutions that have the potential for significant impact on ocean health, sustainable ocean industries and global resilience.
The companies selected for the first BlueSwell Cohort are:
- SeaDeep: Enhanced 3D sea-floor ocean imaging, data visualization and analytics for better environmental characterization
- VINCI VR: Highly realistic, effective, and low-cost VR training software with the ability to real-time change the training environment without coding
- H2Ok: IoT-enabled data analytics platform enabling water-dependent businesses and communities to be proactive in managing water quality
- Oyster Common: An AI-powered marketplace for local seafood that enables farmers to connect with restaurants and customers through a virtual fishmonger
- Hydronet:Underwater networks comprised of acoustic modems & software that provide scalable, high-speed Wi-Fi services for critical assets underwater
- AKUA: A plant-based food company creating burgers, pasta, and jerky from ocean-farmed kelp
The BlueSwell Program, which officially launched in June as a partnership between SeaAhead, Inc., and the New England Aquarium, will focus on bridging the gaps between innovators, ocean experts, industries and the venture community. The mission is to smooth the pathway to commercialization as the selected companies bring their innovations out of the lab. BlueSwell provides direct grants of $35,000 to each startup selected and does not take equity, which is made possible by sponsoring foundations, public sector organizations, companies, and individuals that prioritize venture-based innovation as a new source of solutions for the ocean. The program includes a tailored 20-week curriculum, mentorship from SeaAhead and the Aquarium’s research arm—the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life—an extended network of advisors, and coworking for the length of the program at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
The team ran a rigorous selection process, where the partners sought dedicated teams with novel concepts and demonstrated initial interest and commitment from advisors and customers. Selection involved interviews, feedback from experts, and reference calls. In the final decisions, the selection committee also looked for balance in the group, from the technologies, to the impact, to the diversity of the founder group.
Bluetech is New England’s newest sustainability-related startup sector, supported by Greater Boston’s deep capabilities in both venture innovation and ocean-related research in the “Blue Economy,” which is expected to deliver more than $1 trillion to the global economy by 2030. A vibrant bluetech cluster in New England provides a foundation for economically stimulating coastal communities that may not have fully participated in recent economic boom cycles. By supporting offshore renewable energy, sustainable food from the ocean through fisheries and aquaculture, low carbon ocean transportation, resilient waterfronts, and the mitigation of marine debris and pollution, bluetech will play an increasing role in ocean sustainability while also driving regional investment in new companies, resulting in both STEM and working-class job growth.
Humanity continues to demand more from the ocean. The BlueSwell program focuses on how industry and the natural ocean ecosystem can thrive together. It is a first of its kind program in the Northeast, providing an opportunity to support positive entrepreneurship that can solve real problems while protecting one of our most important natural resources.