By Mollie Frazer Williams, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce

“The Blue & You: Understanding Our Blue Economy” summer speaker series will run for a second year in a row. “Innovate Greater Newport,” one of the four pillars of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, which includes programming at Innovate Newport, is committed to supporting the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, with a special focus on the blue economy.  

These educational sessions, led by panels of experts, are offered to the general public. Considering Rhode Island has 400 miles of coastline, the blue economy has always been a vital component of the state and Greater Newport’s economy. In recent years, there has been a renewed focus on redefining the term and reenergizing efforts around making Rhode Island a regional hub for blue economy and blue tech.  

By offering Rhode Islanders the chance to learn about the various sectors that make up the Blue Economy, as well as the innate interconnectedness of the various sectors, citizens become more aware and engaged. “These sessions provide information that will help citizens understand what the blue economy is and how it impacts them.” says Mollie Frazer Williams, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce.  

The Blue & You Speaker Series will be held at Innovate Newport most Thursdays throughout the summer from 4-5:30 p.m. It will include a presentation and Q & A, followed by networking. The series is sponsored by Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling.  

The first session will be Thursday, June 23rd Topic: SMART BAY Through the SmartBay, 150+ square miles of coastal waters is being developed to transform Narragansett Bay’s unique geography, legacy cross-sector investment, and collection of sensors into a next-generation platform for ocean sensing. Opportunities for prototyping, researching, demonstrating, and training for autonomous shipping, swarm robotics, clean energy, undersea communications, and accurate climate change forecast models will all be enhanced. In this session, hear more from a panel of experts how SmartBay will establish RI at the forefront of global Blue Economy innovation.  

Opening Remarks: Pete Rumsey Chief Business Development Officer, URI Research Foundation RI Blue Economy Tech Cluster “RI BETC” Leader & Acting RECO *Lead Presenter: Erik Brine; Director of Defense R&D Initiatives and Operations; URI Research Foundation, URI Ventures  


  • Andrew Davies, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, University of RI  
  • Stephen Piper; VP Tool & Technology, Enterprise Operations; IBM  
  • Jim Owens; Principal; Nautilus Defense LLC  

Register on Eventbrite:  

To learn more about the Summer Speaker Series, go to Blue Economy Programs tab on