The risks posed by sea-level rise, increased intensity of tropical cyclones, overfishing, and rapid development of the coastline, have heightened awareness and concern about the long-term sustainability of our oceans and our coastal communities that depend on them. These communities have enormous potential to power economic activity related to the ocean and its connected coastal domains, i.e., the “blue” economy. NC State Provost Arden created the Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (CRSI) as a university-wide effort for students and faculty to tackle these grand challenges. Within the CRSI, Professor Christopher Osburn in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences created the Blue Economy Innovation Program (BEIP) to organize an effort that connects the science, engineering, and entrepreneurship groups at NC State.
The overall goal of the proposed project is to expose students to innovation and entrepreneurship in support of a sustainable and equitable blue economy. North Carolina is ideally positioned to create a US mid-Atlantic sustainable blue economy, via a bluetech innovation cluster by tapping North Carolina’s diverse and broad ocean-connected resources. The objective of the project is to conduct an ideation event in which students can learn about and create ideas for the blue economy.
The 2023 workshop held on March 3-4, 2023 brought together graduate and undergraduate students, stakeholders, industry experts, and academics to Carteret Community College and the Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMAST) in Morehead City, North Carolina to begin working on solutions to these challenges. Over 60 participants attended the workshop. Students are beginning to develop their own ideas through a variety of venues such as innovation competitions and a special topics course being co-developed with Dr. Steve Markham, Executive Director of NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The BEIP has members from the KIETS Climate Leaders Program, First Flight Venture Center in the RTP, and Sea-Ahead, Inc., a bluetech incubator/accelerator company that is working with NC State and other NC universities to establish a blue economy hub in NC for the Mid-Atlantic region. An outcome of this effort was the submission of a $1 million NSF Global Centers proposal focused on carbon capture, monitoring, and mitigation.