Five New Startups To Give Oceans A Hand With Plastics, Bycatch, Energy
What do the world’s oceans need? Solutions. A program called the Ocean Solutions Accelerator has chosen to help a handful of new startups which aim to benefit ocean health. They include the first company to make compostable materials derived from seaweed as a plastic alternative. Aka, edible cups and straws a la Willy Wonka.
The five were announced by the youth-led nonprofit Sustainable Ocean Alliance and have become the inaugural class for the Accelerator. That means company leaders will spend this summer in San Francisco, California, and receive guidance from a global community that includes ocean experts, marine scientists, entrepreneurs and investors. When it’s over, each startup will showcase its ideas on stage for a Demo Day at a Sept. 11 Ocean Solutions Gala at the California Academy of Sciences.
That first company is LOLIWARE, based in New York, and dubbed as the world’s first bioplastics company dedicated to replacing single-use plastics with hyper-compostable, edible materials derived from seaweed. Their cups and straws taste like fruit roll-ups.
The Alliance notes that oceans produce 50% of the world’s oxygen, are the primary source of food for 3.5 billion people, control global weather patterns and are the planet’s largest ecosystem with tremendous biodiversity. And humans haven’t done a great job of caring for them. Problems include marine pollution, ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing and habitat destruction.
A second startup called BlockCycle of Sydney, Australia, also is targeting plastics with waste-to-value marketplace using blockchain technology (famously associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin).
The third, fourth and fifth startups are: SafetyNet Technologies of London, England, focused on decreasing bycatch in the commercial fishing industry with user-friendly, electro-mechanical devices; San Francisco-based CalWave Power Technologies Inc., which is developing a next-generation converter to harness energy from ocean waves; and Mexico-based ETAC INC, with nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications such as oil spill and wastewater cleanup. CalWave was spotlighted in a “Forbes 30 Under 30” in 2016.
As you can see, each of these is probably worth a story of its own. Let’s see how they fare on Demo Day. The five startups will receive initial funding to help cover the costs of relocation to San Francisco for the eight-week accelerator program.
The Sustainable Ocean Alliance was founded in 2014 by Georgetown student Daniela Fernandez and recognized in 2017 by the United Nations. It’s said to be the world’s largest network of young ocean leaders in more than 50 countries. Below, Fernandez announces the launch of the Accelerator in 2017.