The highest growth sectors in the Blue Economy — a term referring to sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved jobs, and ocean ecosystem health — are technology solutions for water transportation, shipping, science, and other ocean systems. Few equity investors, however, are currently focused on maritime, according to a new study released by Washington Maritime Blue, an industry cluster alliance aimed at promoting growth in the state’s Blue Economy.

The study, completed by Next Street and partner firm TILT Investments for the Washington Maritime Blue alliance, examined four peer cities — Boston, Oslo, Rotterdam, and San Diego — and researched potential funding structures to provide investment capital to support growth of the maritime sector throughout Washington state. It also presented frameworks and strategies to fill gaps from a variety of investment sources, including public and private capital.

According to the findings, key action items to support the growth of the Blue Economy include:

  • Pilot a Maritime Blue Accelerator to assist small and medium-sized businesses and startups with mentorship and other support services, including access to funders;
  • Share a Capital Suppliers Asset Map of debt, equity, and grant sources for startups, early-stage, growing, and mature small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Develop strategies to support increased investment in Washington’s maritime economy, including identifying philanthropic partners who can help lower or remove risk from investments;
  • Better understand the causes of under-representation of women and people of color in Washington’s Blue Economy and create mitigation strategies; and
  • Build a playbook for corporate partnerships with small and medium-sized businesses in the maritime economy to stimulate innovation and growth while supporting emerging businesses.