Miami’s Blue Economy Leads a Sea Change for South Florida Climate Tech
Miami’s growth as a tech hub not only offers the chance to look forward to the future we can build, but also an opportunity to look inward at the problems we need to solve for the community that we, as Miami innovators and entrepreneurs, serve. For this momentum to last far beyond this decade, Miami must LEAD the fight against climate change and ocean degradation. Otherwise, we quite literally will watch it get washed away.
With increasing rates of sea level rise and tropical storm activity, Miami is projected to see significant impacts of climate change within the decade. Rising seas are expected to cause regular floods, contaminated drinking water, and major damage to property and infrastructure. Miami is also already seeing the social impacts of climate gentrification disproportionately affect people of color in communities like Little Haiti. Meanwhile, our natural capital to combat climate change and severe weather has also been suffering, with years of wastewater mismanagement, pollution, and warming waters. Between last fall’s mass marine life die-off event and continuing coral reef degradation, Miami is a microcosm of broader threats to the ocean’s role as one of the planet’s largest carbon sinks, helping regulate climate.
However, we must see these problems as opportunities for developing groundbreaking solutions and establishing new economic models for the world to follow. Seaworthy Collective sees these opportunities inextricably linked to our ocean, by driving the development of a regenerative blue economy. A regenerative approach means going beyond sustainability to solve problems, and not just mitigate them; focusing on root cause and nature-based solutions such as carbon sequestration, biodegradable plastic alternatives, aquaculture, and more. Altogether, net-zero is the bare minimum of what we aspire for, not the end goal.
Nationally, as a result of minimal public funding for ocean science and innovation, the marine technology field primarily serves the defense and fossil fuel industries. The Ocean 100 study characterized the top 100 corporations making up over 60% of the Blue Economy (AKA Ocean Economy), with the majority (including 9 of the top 10) being fossil fuel and defense companies. These siloes fail to drive forward solutions for the most urgent issues facing the ocean and planet, including warming, acidification, overfishing, sea level rise, plasticization, and more. After spending 5 years in the marine robotics industry, I experienced the systemic barriers to innovating for positive ocean and climate impact firsthand.
Miami is uniquely positioned to lead innovation for regenerative ocean and climate impact as a blue economy that does not serve entrenched industry siloes in exploitation and militarization. Florida Ocean Alliance’s 2020 report detailed how ocean tourism accounts for 66% of the total of Florida’s blue economy at over $24.6 billion dollars. With the ocean’s health playing such a central role in Miami’s blue economy, there was a ripe opportunity to grow the Miami BlueTech ecosystem by building, educating, and activating a community making ocean innovation and entrepreneurship accessible, inclusive, and interdisciplinary.
Seaworthy Collective, launched in September 2020, is a BlueTech startup community and venture studio driving regenerative ocean and climate impact through social and economic impact. Altogether, we empower current and aspiring entrepreneurs in ocean innovation while developing regenerative systems of solutions and blue economy startup pipelines at scale. Last month, we completed our first cohort of 10 ocean and climate impact startups (including 2 that we co-created), establishing Miami as a globally recognized BlueTech hub with our recent inclusion in Richard Branson’s 1000 Ocean Startups Coalition.
As artfully outlined in the #MiamiTech Manifesto, we need to approach the opportunity to make Miami a place where great ClimateTech (and BlueTech) companies are built as a collaborative and inclusive community of builders; disrupting the status quo and activating the universal talent in South Florida. Seaworthy Collective embodies this through our Opportunities for Sea Change; prerequisite free opportunities for anyone to co-create or grow regenerative ClimateTech and BlueTech companies with us, directly serving Miami and beyond. It takes a community to build an ecosystem, and to continue growing the community to make Miami a place where great ClimateTech companies are built, it starts with developing accessible opportunities and proving that anyone can be a part of solving these massive problems.
Daniel Kleinman wrote this piece in response to a question from Opportunity Miami, “How can we make Miami a place where great climate tech companies are built?” Opportunity Miami is powered by the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.