OTIS takes second shot at blue economy challenges

Participants in the 2017 Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint at the Anchorage Public Library tackled the challenges of economically viable uses of seaweed. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative)

A second annual challenge organized by proponents of the blue economy is seeking participants to identify difficulties in getting ocean related products to market and develop prototypes to do so.

The second annual Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint (OTIS), to run from Oct. 20 until Nov. 15, will be based in Anchorage, with technology to stream gatherings of virtual teams throughout the state, said Meg Prichard, marketing and communications manager for the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative, a project of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association.

The blue economy itself is an emerging concept that encourages better stewardship of the ocean in order to improve human wellbeing and social equity, while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

During last year’s event, participants tackled the economic difficulty of using seaweed productively and prototyped a viable solution, in that case a seaweed snack bar.

The Anchorage event will have several different locations, where participants will hear presentations from a variety of people in the seafood industry, including marketing and transportation sectors, Pritchard said. These events will be streamed to other locations, including virtual teams.

The OTIS project itself is based on the Google Ventures Sprint Process, a five-day process to answer critical business question through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers.

Deadline to apply is midnight on Oct. 14. Applications are at the OTIS website, otis.blue. More information on the Facebook event is online at facebook.com/events/247153822668121.  No previous experience is required.

OTIS was founded in the fall of 2017 by Joel Cladouhos, director of the Alaska Ocean Cluster, and Nigel Sharp, global entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Alaska Business Enterprise Institute.

The Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association was established in 1979 by western Alaska commercial fisheries leaders to give commercial and subsistence harvesters a voice in the sustainability and development of Bering Sea and western Alaska fisheries resources. Since then, BSFA accomplishments range from eliminating high seas interception of western Alaska salmon in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean, to launching several fisheries research and coordinating programs, including the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative.

BSFA officials attribute these successes to their participation in legislative and regulatory forums from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.