Becoming a Blue Economy Hub
This is the November 15, 2022 edition of the Opportunity Miami newsletter written by Matt Haggman, which we send every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe to get our weekly updates in your inbox.
Regular readers of the Opportunity Miami newsletter know an argument we often share is that combating climate change — and transitioning to a net zero economy — presents the business opportunity of our lifetime.
But, within that, what areas may Miami have a competitive advantage?
One possibility: the bay and ocean, which are such a defining feature of the Miami metropolitan area.
Namely, Miami’s blue economy.
The World Bank defines blue economy as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.” Efforts to build blue economies in regions around the world are a key driver in the push to build an overall economy that creates jobs, propels economic growth, and stops warming the planet.
Its mission is to “empower sea change makers” who drive innovation for 71 percent of the planet (our ocean) to regenerate 100 percent of the earth. He’s launched a venture studio with two cohorts numbering nearly 50 companies. This includes companies that 3D print seawalls that function as coral reefs to startups building autonomous robots — think of the Roomba robot vacuum but for the sea — that collect marine debris from the ocean surface.
“We really have this opportunity to change the narrative, not only for climate and oceans here but what it really looks like to take action,” said Kleinman. The vision, he said, is for Miami “to be this playground of ocean innovation.”
The possibilities are enormous if Miami can be a place where blue economy companies are hatched and built.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 40 percent of the U.S. population — about 130 million people — live in coastal areas. At last count, the U.S. blue economy supports some 2.3 million jobs and contributes about $373 million to the nation’s gross domestic project through tourism, shipping and transport, commercial and recreational fishing, power generation, and research, among others.
Globally, places have emerged as blue economy leaders, such as Norway or San Diego, said Kleinman. But by driving innovation and encouraging the right mix of policy changes, Miami can distinguish itself as an essential leader.
NOAA published a strategic plan on the blue economy for 2021 through 2025 focused on five areas: marine transportation, ocean exploration, seafood competitiveness, tourism and recreation, and coastal resilience.
It’s not hard to imagine Miami being a leader in several of these areas. After all, Port Miami ranks among the top container ports globally and is considered the “cruise capital of the world.” The Port has also launched a campaign to transition to net zero and is installing shore power.
Meanwhile, efforts to drive innovation and company creation include Founders Factory joining forces with Blue Action Lab, a blue tech accelerator with bases of operation in the Bahamas and Miami. Cutting-edge marine transportation efforts like Regent — who we featured in an Opportunity Miami podcast that you can watch on YouTube or listen to on Spotify or Apple Podcasts — are slated for Miami.
Last year Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava named the county’s first Chief Bay Officer, appointing Irela Bague. And, of course, Miami is a leader in education and research with institutions like the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science and Florida International University’s Institute of Environment
Indeed, while we are seeing an electric vehicle revolution with cars on land today, Miami could be a leader in hastening the EV revolution on the sea.
In doing this work, Kleinman is also seeking to change how people view entrepreneurship in the oceans.
In particular, to open up and democratize the space so it’s not an area reserved only for those with degrees in, say, marine sciences but for entrepreneurs of all kinds and from all sorts of backgrounds — whether theater majors or those with marketing degrees. In doing so, increase the gender and racial diversity in a field that has largely been what Kleinman called a “diversity desert.”
Last month Kleinman shared reflections — in a post titled “Unveiling Seaworthy 2.0” — on his first two years since launching the Seaworthy Collective. He noted that often times in the “social and environmental impact space, many of us are great at giving selflessly, while not being so great at asking and receiving.”
To change that, he’s launched a fundraising campaign for Seaworthy’s next stage of growth and to propel Miami’s blue economy.
With giving in mind, Give Miami Day is back this week! Be sure to help your favorite, most impactful nonprofits across Greater Miami make it another record-setting year by supporting organizations across our community driving change.
Hope you will give early and often.
As always, we would love to hear from you. Share your ideas, observations, critiques, or anything at all at firstname.lastname@example.org or engage with us on social media. You can also invite friends to subscribe to the newsletter here.