By Julia Casey, Americorps VISTA
What do you call a fish wearing a tie?
Had you been a participant, sponsor, mentor, or organizer of the recent Ocean Technology and Innovation Sprint (OTIS) you may have heard some strong dad jokes courtesy of Joel Cladouhos and Nigel Sharp -- both of whom’s children are too young to eye roll. These two created OTIS, the Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint. Luckily, their vision for and execution of OTIS was much better than their jokes. OTIS culminated in a group of OTIS participants and organizers flying to San Diego for BlueTech Week.
Naturally, the week started off with the fish joke above. Joel presented the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative (AOCI) and its innovative approach to developing the blue economy to a room full of international maritime cluster leaders, who were interested in how OTIS attracted new talent and interest in ocean innovation. Additional areas of focus during the week included the intersection of the blue economy and the space economy, and the BlueTech Summit & Tech Expo with tracks in smart ports, smart water, smart shipping, workforce development, and unmanned maritime robotics. A highlight of the summit was the maritime robotics interoperability demonstration featuring aerial, underwater, and surface drones working together autonomously. BlueTech week culminated in PitchFest, where companies pitched ocean and water businesses to a panel of investors.
BlueTech week provided a great way to connect with people in the blue economy around the world. The Alaskan OTIS contingent represented one of the largest groups at BlueTech week, and engaged with new technologies and businesses -- many of which had growth and business strategies centered around Alaska. It also showed the ocean of opportunities (ba da tss) for starting innovative businesses in this space, particularly technologies used in Alaska and other arctic/sub-arctic places.
Many of the connections made at BlueTech week have continued -- resulting in collaboration such as national and international maritime leaders presenting at Ocean Tuesday. These connections, along with a sprinkling of lame jokes, made for a great week and inspiration for further development of the ocean economy to benefit Alaska. To stick with the theme, here is one final joke:
Where does seaweed look for a job?
In the kelp-wanted ads.