NOAA connects with entrepreneurs and innovators at BlueTech Week

The NOAA Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) recently participated in BlueTech Week in San Diego, CA. BlueTech Week is an annual conference where global participants collaborate and innovate on some of the most pressing water and ocean challenges. This year marked a return to an in-person event, and was held at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Liberty Station.

As a Visionary Sponsor for the event, TPO had the opportunity to host an exhibitor booth throughout the conference and to share informational materials about NOAA’s mission priorities, technologies, and various programs that support the U.S. Blue Economy and innovation ecosystem.

Five people post behind a table with banners and tablecloth that read NOAA
TPO staff were on hand at the BlueTech Week exhibitor booth. Credit: NOAA TPO

The event brought together representatives of academia, industry, and policymakers (“the Triple Helix”) and featured presentations on a wide variety of topics including BlueTech accelerator programs, Blue workforce development, and NOAA’s role in supporting the New Blue Economy. There were concurrent sessions on four key topics: offshore renewable energy, space applications, sustainable commercial shipping, and water technologies.

“It was exciting to see NOAA TPO showing up in support of BlueTech Week,” said Randy Lind, President of San Diego-based small business Biospherical Instruments, Inc. “BlueTech Week is always an amazing gathering of water and ocean-focused innovators, many of whom have received help from TPO to cross the bridge from innovation to commercial success.”

TPO’s Deputy Director, Derek Parks, moderated a panel discussion on “The Role of Governments: Working with Industry to Promote a Sustainable Blue Economy.” The discussion covered how governments can positively influence the development of a vibrant Blue Economy, including strategic planning and goal-setting, defining standards, and direct financial support for specific industry sectors. Panelists for the session included Pedro Pinto, Consul General of Portugal in San Francisco; Martin Stensland, Counselor for Trade and Industrial Affairs from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; and Amanda Netburn, the Deputy Division Chief for Science and Technology in NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration

A speaker at a podium talks with three people seated on a stage as an audience listens
BlueTech Week panelists discuss how various government initiatives are impacting private-sector activities and investments related to the blue economy. Credit: NOAA TPO

TPO had the opportunity to connect with current and previous NOAA SBIR award recipients. Entrepreneurs from Biospherical Instruments, Inc. invited representatives from the NOAA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program to visit their workspace in downtown San Diego. The visit included a tour of their facilities and learning about progress on their current NOAA SBIR Phase I project. “We had a great site visit with [NOAA SBIR Program Manager] Dr. Lind and the rest of the TPO staff,” said Randy. “We always enjoy showing Biospherical’s facilities to visitors and having the opportunity to give greater insight into what we do, how, and why.”

Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Gear, Inc., Dr. Kortney Opshaug, participated on a panel about technologies impacting the sustainable commercial shipping sector. Blue Ocean Gear has two active NOAA SBIR awards and credits the program with increasing their company’s ability to move their technology forward in difficult economic times. Dr. Yi Chao, President and CEO of Seatrec and 2018 NOAA SBIR awardee, also participated in a panel focused on transforming ocean observations into powerful solutions.

Five people stand in an office observing examples of technology
Current NOAA SBIR Phase I awardees from Biospherical Instruments, Inc. showcase their technologies for members of the NOAA SBIR team. Credit: NOAA TPO

TPO also provided conference registration for representatives from three U.S. small businesses – Tampa Deep Sea Xplorers, Oscilla Power, and Radmantis – who were on hand to present technologies developed with funding from the NOAA SBIR Program. Through a competitive process, companies with active or recently-completed NOAA SBIR Phase II projects were selected to participate in the BlueTech event. The goal for including these companies was to increase their chances of commercial success by introducing them to potential investors and customers for their technologies.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with members of the BlueTech sector in San Diego and beyond. TPO looks forward to continuing support for growing and diversifying the Blue Economy through funding opportunities and strategic research partnerships.

Seven people standing in a room in front of NOAA signage and windows
NOAA TPO staff with Mitch Goldberg (Senior Scientist at NESDIS), Nicole LeBoeuf (Assistant Administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service), Todd Gloria (Mayor of San Diego), and Carl Gouldman (Director of the Integrated Ocean Observing System). Credit: NOAA TPO

The primary goal of the NOAA SBIR Program is to empower small businesses to develop and commercialize innovative technologies that are related to NOAA’s mission. Visit the NOAA SBIR Program website to view additional information about the program, read about other NOAA SBIR successes and available technologies, and sign up to receive email updates on upcoming funding opportunities.

Note: Any reference obtained from this website to a specific company, product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by NOAA.

Published on December 1, 2022

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