A new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs are taking the great ocean challenges into their own hands and showing that making a positive impact on our ‘blue’ planet can also make a big, positive impact on the ‘blue’ economy, the climate, and beyond.
Ocean Impact Organisation (OIO) have launched The Ocean Impact Pitchfest 2021 (www.ocean-impact.org/pitchfest2021), a six week global initiative to find, support and accelerate innovative solutions that can transform the health of the ocean. Applications are open until 21 September 2021 with the Winners announced on 4 November 2021.
With $150,000 in cash prizes and $150,000 of additional products and support from OIO and their partners, startups and entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for the chance to accelerate their ocean impact and help to improve the health of Planet Ocean. This year also sees the debut of the HP Generation Impact Incubator, a new program for young (35 and under) innovators residing in Australia with an idea to transform ocean health.
Founded by entrepreneur Nick Chiarelli and environmentalist Tim Silverwood (ex-CEO of Take 3 for the Sea), OIO’s mission is to support and accelerate ocean impact businesses. For the Founders of OIO there is “no time to waste” in radically accelerating new innovations, investment and collaboration to help transform ocean health.
“We developed OIO to help people start, grow and invest in businesses that positively impact the ocean,” says Chiarelli who has worked with startups for most of his career. “I’d seen all manner of startup accelerators and incubators emerge for specific areas like FinTech, MedTech, RegTech etc. but nothing existed for the ocean.” Chiarelli says of the origins of OIO. “Given how fundamentally important a healthy ocean is of our own survival, there was a gaping hole and a huge opportunity for Australia to become a global leader in accelerating scalable ocean solutions.”
Now in its second year, The Ocean Impact Pitchfest is proving that abundant solutions are out there and investor appetite to support ocean impact is increasing.
Last year's inaugural Winner of The Ocean Impact Pitchfest was Planet Protector Packaging, an innovative Australian company using waste wool to create ‘Woolpack’, an alternative to expanded polystyrene packaging (EPS) that has so far prevented 7 million EPS boxes from entering landfill or the ocean.
Joanne Howarth, founder and CEO of Planet Protector says, “Since winning OIO’s inaugural Pitchfest we have had enormous support, not only from the OIO team, but also from their very expansive network of passionate sponsors and investors.”
Joanne continues, “It has been a game changing partnership and we feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such passionate entrepreneurs who are shaping the state of the ocean. The startup ecosystem needs the likes of OIO to support and open doors for them. If every country in the world had an Ocean Impact Organisation, we wouldn’t have an ocean crisis!”
Having recently raised $1.25m through an equity crowdfunding campaign on Australian tech platform Birchal, Howarth is glowing of the growing interest from the public (and investors) of ocean impact innovation.
The blue economy
At first glance, the rising figures of Australia’s blue economy suggest a burgeoning sector, capitalising on the growing opportunities of ‘innovation for a sustainable ocean’. But a deeper dive into the numbers reveals an age-old scenario where Australia’s thirst for extracting and selling fossil fuels is underpinning economic output.
The latest AIMS Index of Marine Industry report, released in July 2021, celebrates a 28% increase in the total value of Australia’s marine industry, rising to $81.2bn between 2016-18. A 79% increase in offshore natural gas production fuels this growth followed by a 57% increase in shipbuilding and repair. Over $35bn of the total $81.2bn Australian blue economy is supported by offshore petroleum projects.
Pitchfest 2021 is accepting applications from the 10th August, with applications closing on
September 21st 2021 and the Winners announced on November 4th.
For more information or to apply for Pitchfest 2021, please visit www.oceanimpact.org/pitchfest2021