Business accelerator calls for scaling ocean-focused startups

Business accelerator calls for scaling ocean-focused startups
March 2021
Business Sustainability
The Sustainable Ocean Alliance is currently accepting applications for scaling ocean-focused startups.
Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist

The Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is currently accepting applications for scaling ocean-focused startups.

It is a first-of-its-kind initiative for future thinkers with any idea that will solve some of the critical ocean challenges we face today.

The application is open for founders with a profit-oriented, market-driven, ocean-related solution.

The Ocean Solutions Accelerator programme supports startups in developing scalable solutions while addressing the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets.

They are in their third year of accelerating startups, and throughout that time, they have worked with 29 companies from 12 countries and raised approximately $20 million in follow-on funding.

Ocean Solutions Accelerator programme

Their 2020 Accelerator Programme saw 9 startups from 7 different countries participating in the first all-virtual Accelerator programme, culminating in the most well-attended Demo Day yet.

Over just 4 weeks, entrepreneurs participated in 35 sessions featuring 29 speakers and facilitators and made more than 60 new connections with SOA mentors.

Daniela Fernandez, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Ocean Alliance, says,

“Being an ocean tech entrepreneur, it’s not easy because it hasn’t been done before. We have to work with one another to build it. And that’s what we’re here for, to put all those pieces together for you.”

Some previous startups they have worked with include the first company to make compostable materials derived from seaweed as a plastic alternative, Loliware.

They created the term ‘Hyper-compostable' to reflect on innovative material they designed that allows their products to break down at the same rate as food waste in compost or in the natural environment.

This makes an important distinction from the widely used corn bioplastic (PLA), which is only compostable in an industrial setting.

Another startup that participated in the SOA Accelerator programme is called BlockCycle in Australia, targeted plastics with waste-to-value marketplace using blockchain technology, famously associated with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.

Innovative recycled plastic materials and products are trending

Craig Dudenhoeffer, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder at SOA, says, “We get a lot of applications from people saying I am turning ocean plastic into skateboards, I am turning fishing nets into blank.

One good example of a company that then stands out is Ocean Works, it’s enabling technology that we think could actually transform and create a new market for plastic and spur new innovations around what we do with that.

That’s an example of something we didn’t know we were looking for.”

Applying startup's solution must be feasible, scalable, and solving real issues in the ocean sector and work towards improving ocean health.

With an ambitious team, enterprises must have a plan for generating revenue, potentially with initial traction of customers or investors already.

Throughout the programme, founders receive guidance from SOA’s community as they engage with mentors, partners, and potential funders to achieve their goals.

The Ocean Solutions Accelerator will also present founders with a rigorous curriculum that encourages personal development and executive training with a range of world-class facilitators and pitch coaches.

The programmes include virtual Demo Days, connecting entrepreneurs with more investors, mentors and industry experts.

Besides, SOA routinely provides opportunities to gain exposure from its extensive social media network and connections to industry events.

Brandon Levy, Programme Director, says,

“At one point, it’s humbling but also empowering, knowing that as individuals, entrepreneurs and leaders, we can match the challenge with our own ingenuity, and that’s really what SOA is all about.

We are a community of empowered change-makers who are doing what we think is important; what we know is important.”


Headline image: Photo by Pok Rie from Pexels

Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist