The stresses on the world's oceans are growing. Global populations are approaching 8 billion people - and 40% of them live near the coast, mostly in cities. At the same time, standards of living globally are rising, bringing many people out of poverty through continued industrialization.
This combination of factors presents an acute need, as well as an opportunity, for scalable new technologies and ventures to improve ocean sustainability. SeaAhead will be a global nexus, bringing together technologists, scientists, startups, corporations, governments and other ocean stakeholders to create impact in areas including greener shipping and ports, aquaculture and fishery processes, offshore alternative energy and smart cities.
The Blue Economy
The ‘Blue Economy’ is a relatively new term used to describe the economic and intrinsic values generated in and around the ocean. It includes many sectors from fishing and aquaculture, to ports, shipping, boat-building and defense and even energy generation, scientific exploration and coastal tourism. The OECD estimates that the ocean delivers over $1 Trillion to the global economy - without including the oil & gas industry. It is a vital component to global trade and a source of food security. It is also the world's largest ecosystem.
Given the importance that the blue economy has for humanity, there is now an enormous opportunity for cross fertilization of recent technical advances from adjacent industries. Innovations in areas such as robotics and sensors could be leveraged to improve ocean sustainability, coastal resiliency and the urban coast’s environmental footprint. From data science to VR/AR and materials development, enabling technologies have the potential to revolutionize this sector.
SeaAhead has four major focus areas
Offshore Renewable Energy
Given the proximity of much of humanity to the ocean, the ability to harness offshore renewable energy is a vital component of a decarbonized energy system. The OECD estimates that the global offshore wind sector in particular will grow at 24% for the next 24 years. Rhode Island’s 30 MW Block Island wind project is America’s first and only operational offshore wind farm where, the estimated total addressable market on the US Eastern Seaboard is >$15 Billion with about a $100 Million in associated R&D spend. Additionally, these projects will drive innovation and sustainability in the local port and maritime logistics sectors.
Tech opportunities: New materials for next gen rotor blades; energy storage integration; Systems for faster turbine installation; Offshore maintenance drones; Offshore sensors; Data analytics for predictive maintenance; Virtual/augmented reality approaches for spatial planning; Reduction of underwater acoustics in marine construction
The FAO estimates that about 30% of the world’s commercial fisheries are over-exploited. This is an enormous problem, not least for ocean ecosystems and global biodiversity – but also for people. Within Exclusive Economic Zones (200 miles), most nations such as the US heavily manage their wild fisheries resulting in healthy biomass populations. We believe that technology can help us discover new ways to bring these systems into balance so that seafood can be sustainably managed to help support a growing population with a nutritious, affordable and widely available protein.
Tech opportunities: Aquaculture sensors, alternative feed & system design; Underwater autonomous vehicles; Wild fishery traceability - including acoustics, satellites & supply chain; New processes for locally-sourced fish stocks; Marine-derived pharmaceuticals
The shipping industry is a critical global connector, supporting about 90% of all global trade by volume. However, the technology status-quo is currently being challenged, as improvements in other transportation industries have brought ship-related pollution into sharper relief. As we have seen in other industries, a matrix of new environmental regulations are coming into play, including for air pollutants (NOx, SOx, particulates, GHGs, VOCs), anti-fouling chemicals and the transport of invasive species in ballast water. Maintaining resiliency will require more investment for dealing with challenges such as cybersecurity and rising sea levels.
Tech opportunities: Hybrid ship propulsion; Ballast water treatment systems; Sustainable anti-fouling technology; New materials/methods to reduce ship hull friction; Whale strike avoidance; Ship emissions control; Logistics efficiency software; Maritime and supply-chain cybertech for protecting life, property and the environment; Electrification of port infrastructure & operations; Ocean Internet-of-Things sensing and analytics
In supporting more sustainable ocean systems, we will require new approaches that weave together the intersecting impacts of agricultural, urban and coastal uses. SeaAhead takes a systems view to applying new technology with the urban core as its nexus. Key urban coastal considerations include water use, wastewater inputs, storm runoff, plastic pollution and community health. Transportation choices and new 'Smart City' developments will play an integral role in urban sustainability efforts and in designing resilient infrastructure.
Tech opportunities: Wastewater treatment to remove contaminants including pharmaceuticals & microplastics; Biodegradable plastics; Single-use plastic reduction methods; Data analysis for better urban planning; Agricultural nitrate runoff avoidance; Desalination; Resiliency planning
SeaAhead is a Benefit Corporation with the mission of catalyzing the intersection of oceans + innovation + sustainability. We are currently in launch-mode, with the goal of creating a world-class hub for the Northeast ocean cluster that will support new venture development and corporate innovation. SeaAhead will collaborate with ocean clusters around the world.
Initial plans focus on getting our incubation, corporation facilitation and programming off the ground. In the future, we envision adding an impact investing vehicle and workforce development programming.
SeaAhead's incubator will support growth companies with technical solutions to ocean sustainability. It will facilitate connections to existing, but disparate testing equipment (e.g. wave tanks, ocean sensor testing ranges, dock facilities) and provide a network of service providers, mentors and funders.
SeaAhead will partner with corporate leaders in evaluating the innovation space, identifying technology gaps and facilitating development programs. With our incubation center and network, SeaAhead is positioned to have a 360 degree view of the BlueTech space.
A key aspect of successful technical development is bringing together groups that typically do not interact, but in doing so would realize many opportunities for collaborative innovation. Cluster programming will include conferences, seminars and networking events.
Innovation today is flatter and moving quickly, causing traditional sectors such as Food, Utilities and Automotive to respond by ‘outsourcing’ through their participation in incubators and venture funds. SeaAhead is working with corporates, foundations, impact funds, family offices and sovereign funds on creating a Bluetech Sustainability investment vehicle.
We are engineers, company builders and investors. We are scientists, mentors and facilitators.
We are passionate about the potential of technology to improve lives and environmental outcomes and have dedicated our careers to sustainability innovation. Our vision is to chart a new path for interaction with the world's oceans.
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Mark was recently Providence’s Economic Development Director, where he focused on the Innovation ecosystem and developed an Urban Food strategy. Prior to his work in Providence, Mark, as a co-founder, led the formation of Novus Energy Partners, a US-Norwegian cleantech VC fund, which was later followed by Tolero Ventures. Prior to that, Mark was with GE for 10 years and as a Senior Vice President of GE Energy Financial Services he co-led the effort to re-start GE’s cleantech venture investing efforts. In the maritime sector, Mark has worked in shipbuilding and as a naval architect. Mark also served for 13 years as an officer in the US Army Reserves. He was mobilized in 2003 to Baghdad where he focused on nation-building. He is currently a US director of Alfanar, the only venture philanthropy non-profit focused on the Arab world, and Tern, a Taiwan-based urban mobility company.
Mark holds an MBA and Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University & a BS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Webb Institute.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Alissa was most recently the VP of Product Marketing & Planning at NanoSteel, an advanced materials company creating scalable solutions for vehicle lightweighting and 3D printing. Prior to NanoSteel, Alissa was Director of Product Marketing & Business Development at Primus Power, a venture-backed grid-scale energy storage technology company. Through her work at NanoSteel and Primus, she has managed business development, strategic planning, marketing, government relations and M&A. Prior to her startup experience, Alissa was a consultant in McKinsey’s Global Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice in the US and Europe. She serves as a mentor through the Cleantech Open, MIT Clean Energy Prize and Year Up.
Alissa holds a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a BS in Civil Engineering from Duke University.
Co-Founder & Board Chairman
Jason serves as Executive Vice President and board member for Moran Shipping Agencies, Inc., where he has worked in various roles since 1994.
As an active member of the global maritime community, Jason participates in the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (Treasurer), the Chamber of Shipping of America, BIMCO, Intertanko, and the Federation of National Associations of Brokers and Agents. He is also a Board Member for the RI Commerce Corporation & Growsmart RI; a Providence Foundation Trustee; a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the URI Graduate School of Oceanography; Chair of the Providence Harbor Management Commission; and member of the Mystic Aquarium President’s advisory board; member of Rhode Island Freight Advisory Committee; and member, the Narragansett Bay Propeller Club.
Jason holds an MBA from Middlesex University in Shipping & Logistics and a Bachelor’s of Business from Boston College.
Board & Advisors
Our advisors are our foundation and the key to supporting both startups and corporate innovation partners.
SeaAhead is headquartered at the epicenter of what is arguably the world's most dense collection of bluetech-related capabilities from Boston to the Massachusetts South Coast to Narragansett Bay and Eastern Connecticut.
Boston Office @ CIC Boston, 50 Milk Street
Providence Office @ SEG, 10 Davol Square