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Department of Commerce, NOAA launch fund for ocean tech accelerators

The federal government triggers a wave of funding for the ocean tech sector.

Offshore Windmill farm in the ocean Westermeerwind park

Image via Shutterstock/fokke baarssen

Last week, it was announced that the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerator program with $60 million focused on accelerating the blue economy.

Funded through the Inflation Reduction Act, the program will focus on financing new accelerators that can, in turn, foster the next generation of ocean technology. 

The announcement couldn’t come at a better time. The Daily Beast recently reported that the ocean’s color has changed from blue to green in the past 20 years, most likely due to climate change-exacerbated phytoplankton blooms. This, in conjunction with frequent reports of devastating flooding along the U.S. coasts, has resulted in a renewed interest in ocean tech.

Sara Mattern, a partner in the energy project finance development group at Foley Hoag, explained that financial interest in projects beyond offshore wind is a relatively new phenomenon. "[In] maybe the last two or three years, we’ve really seen an uptick in interest and investors that are looking at [ocean tech] as its own kind of industry vertical."

The Climate Resilience Accelerator program exists to further that trend along. The eligible themes for applicants include:

  • Ocean-based renewable energy;
  • Coastal and ocean carbon sequestration monitoring and accounting;
  • Hazard mitigation and coastal resilience;
  • Ecosystems services, including change detection, change analysis and change adaptation and mitigation; and
  • Other ocean, coastal and Great Lakes-based climate resilience theme areas as determined by the applicant.

The first phase of the program is open to applicants through Sept. 11, and will fund selected projects with up to $250,000 per project for accelerator program design. The second phase will then invite selected participants to apply for additional funding of up to $10 million to implement their program design. 

"A huge part of what [this opportunity is creating]," said Mattern, "is a space that startup companies can come to and get support … and really create an ecosystem like you have in certain hubs. Like you might have as a tech hub in Silicon Valley."

The application to the Climate Resilience Accelerator Program can be found here.

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