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This year’s focus will be different from the typical accelerator: startups in this group will test their products directly with companies active in the ocean economy for four months, collecting data on what works, what doesn’t. and further developing the proof of concept. Braid Theory will help these startups develop their business plan and pitches, and connect them with potential investors and partners in the field. In return, he takes a convertible stock warrant after three years.

Startups joining Braid Theory typically cover sectors such as port logistics, aquaculture and energy, all aiming to test their technologies and untapped opportunities in the booming industry. The goal of the accelerator is to take these businesses from pre-revenue to commercialization.

And all seek to address issues within the blue economy ecosystem, many of which have also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With 31% of all cargo floating across the ocean to and from the United States passing through the Port of LA and the Port of Long Beach, COVID-19 has strangled supply chains and increased the volume of cargo handled at LA’s first dock by nearly 16% between 2020 and 2021. This created many logistical challenges for the dwindling workforce at the nation’s busiest ports, while increase in emissions.

“The thing we’re trying to think about is ways in which we can leverage biological systems and software to make more immediate changes in markets that have a low barrier to entry,” said Jim Cooper. , co-founder of Braid Theory, on the accelerator approach. solve a wide range of climatic and logistical problems.

Cooper founded Braid theory with colleague Ann Carpenter after the couple left PortTechLA, a maritime and logistics incubator that closed in 2016. The two wanted to create an accelerator for port and ocean startups that would go beyond logistics and take into other promising sectors of the ocean economy, including the sustainable cultivation of fish and plants as well as tools to make the maritime sector more efficient.

Jim Cooper co-founded Braid Theory with his former PortTechLA colleague, Ann Carpenter.Image courtesy of Braid Theory

Accelerators like Braid Theory attempt to fill a void in the blue economy ecosystem. Although it is home to several universities with robust maritime research centers and a giant port infrastructure that could be better optimized, few startups survive in Los Angeles due to a lack of seed funding, according to a 2020 report. of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. The accelerator provides funding and lab space and investor connections to fledgling startups tackling a wide range of ocean-related issues.

The same report found that ocean startups, especially early-stage ones, struggle to secure funding to meet the need for expensive lab equipment such as centrifuges, chillers, and pipettes. Startups in the blue economy space are primarily funded by federal and state dollars, NGOs and philanthropies, and competitions. But while angel funding has historically been slow to trickle down to blue economy startups, some are starting to take notice of the size of the market. In the first cohort, eight out of 12 startups received federal funding and investor funding with the help of Braid Theory.

The accelerator’s first class included Florida-based students Tampa DeepSea Xplorers, which makes autonomous marine vehicles that can scrape the ocean floor and collect data faster for researchers to use when studying the impact of climate change or the source of different drugs. Based in Irvine Recreate energy is another graduate, who sources algae to create more sustainable bio-based crude oil that can be used in oil and gas refineries. As FlashQ, a Canadian-based AI platform, attempts to reduce truck congestion and the emissions they cause at the port by creating a scheduling platform that optimizes wait and dispatch times .

“The key is opportunity, the opportunity was there,” Mimi Carter, a biotech investor with the Pasadena Angels, said of business opportunities in the ocean market. “We saw a market that was unaddressed and is still an emerging market.”

Long Beach HarborA group of cranes at the Port of Long Beach.picture by DJANA 575/shutterstock

To Carter’s credit, LA County has 75 miles of coastline that LAEDC predicts by 2023 will produce more than $80 billion in regional production, generate about $50 billion in gross county product, and create more 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to a 2020 report. And, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, economic and job growth in this sector relies heavily on the creation and implementation of new technologies, making angel investors necessary players to strengthen the ocean economy.

“Not only do we want to invest in a sustainable product, but someone we see as a trailblazer,” Carter said of his investment approach. Already, groups like the Pasadena Angels and Techstars LA have invested in the space. Blue economy angel investor Reece Pacheco is quietly working on a new venture capital fund around the yet to be announced blue tech space.

“What we’re starting to see is that there are entrepreneurs who are either coming into these research ventures, or there are entrepreneurs who cut their teeth somewhere else but care about the ocean,” he said. said Pacheco.

There’s also Braid Theory’s neighbor (and owner), AltaSea, the non-profit research center that has facilitated a number of partnerships with companies around the world.

“We want to be the leading destination for the blue economy in terms of technology, funding, the educational pathways needed for students to get to those jobs in the future, and then actually developing the workforce for the jobs. of the future,” said Terry Tamminen, AltaSea’s new CEO.

Braid Theory’s makeshift shipping container-turned-lab sits alongside a slew of other startups and projects in the blue economy space. USC researchers are incubating bubbling cauldrons of kelp that could create biofuels and alternative food sources. While oceanographer Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, has set up a marine exploration program just a few doors down.

“The ocean is more than a destination for tourists and a diving spot for Jacques Cousteau and David Attenborough,” Tamminen said. “It’s actually something on our doorstep that we need to protect for our own survival, but it’s also an economic opportunity.”

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