• Innovate Newport announces international competition to spur blue tech industry growth

    Innovate Newport announces international competition to spur blue tech industry growth

    Savana Dunning | The Newport Daily News

    NEWPORT — Innovate Newport’s latest effort to grow the area's tech startup industry will pit companies from greater Newport and Israel in a Blue Tech pitching competition.

    The Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce and Innovate Newport announced a BlueTech Startup Competition as a side event to coincide with the Blue Innovation Symposium starting Feb. 22 at Middletown's Wyndham Hotel.

    The competition is a collaboration between the chamber, Innovate Newport and The Rhode Island Israeli Collaborative, which connected the Newport organizations to HUBashdod Israel, a co-working space in Ashdod, to create the international competition.

    Judges from both countries will listen to pitches from up to eight startups, four American and four Israeli, for a cash prize and a customized trip to the other partner country with access to personalized introductions, meetings and the other country’s co-working space. 
    Benjamin Sorkin gives his presentation for Flux Marine at Innovate Newport during a Shark Tank-type competition in October.

    This competition is one of several initiatives developed by The Rhode Island Israeli Collaborative to encourage the growth of Rhode Island’s economic relationship with Israel, especially in the technology and blue economy sectors.

    “Blue technology” focuses on innovation and technological advancement in the maritime industry, also known as the “Blue economy," which encompasses everything from freight shipping to boat repair.

    Support for the growth of Newport’s Blue Economy has been a longstanding goal of the city and chamber, which looks to the industry as a way to reduce economic reliance on seasonal tourism. 

    Greater Newport County currently has 439 blue economy companies, the largest chunks of which are related to blue technology, according to the chamber’s recently published 10-year strategy plan.

    In the same document, the chamber identifies supporting the blue economy as one of its economic development strategies, specifically through “Support existing businesses and new, growing industries that are related to Blue Economy infrastructure opportunities like off-shore wind and clean transportation.”

    Additionally, the city’s recently adopted North End Urban Plan to revitalize the northern part of the city outlines a zoning district called the “Innovation District” designed to encourage “startup/incubator types of businesses” related to the Blue Economy, and digital technology.

    The area stretches from the Pell Bridge along J.T. Connell Highway to abut Naval Station Newport. 

    While Innovate Newport does not sit inside the newly created zoning district, it is one of the city’s main collaborators for encouraging the growth of Newport’s blue tech industry. In October, Innovate Newport held a similar competition where several local startups pitched for the chance to earn a $1,000 investment in their business from the chamber of commerce.

    The competition was not specifically for blue tech companies, but the winning pitch came from Ian Estaphan-Owen and his company Jaia Robotics, which develops autonomous marine data-collecting vehicles.

    Applications for Innovate Newport’s latest startup competition are due March 8, and finalists will be announced March 15. The competition will take place March 22 and 29, and the winner will be announced at an award ceremony on April 5.

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