Port of San Diego – Environmental Innovation through Blue Economy Incubator Program

Ports worldwide are at the forefront of the environmental challenges associated with climate change and coastal development. To adapt, ports are leveraging the use of innovative technologies and collaborations with business partners and communities, to revolutionize how to be environmental stewards and protect coastal ecosystems. In 2016, the Port of San Diego launched a unique Blue Economy Incubator Program to attract innovators with novel solutions to address port environmental challenges, from compliance to remediation.

The Blue Economy Incubator Program is acting as a launching pad for sustainable aquaculture and port-related blue tech ventures by providing funding and key assets and support services focused on pilot project facilitation. To date, the port has launched eight (8) pilot projects including shellfish nursery operations; copper remediation technology; a drive-in Boatwash; a smart marina application; a marine debris removal vessel; seaweed aquaculture; bio-enhancing shoreline armoring alternative; and a new approach to sediment remediation in marine environments.

A Port-led Blue Economy incubator is a unique approach to harness and advance innovations to help drive the Blue Economy. Through its Blue Economy Incubator, the port has contributed $1.4 million in funding for eight (8) pilot projects, provided use of port-owned property, assistance with obtaining all necessary regulatory and operational permits, coordinated the installation of projects, and provided assistance with community and media relations. Through facilitation of pilot projects, the program has created synergies with and is informing other environmental programs at the port from copper remediation, to marine debris removal management, to shellfish and seaweed aquaculture as a tool for bio-remediation and restoration.

Traditionally, ports fund innovative projects through service agreements or grants. The Port Blue Economy Incubator provides a new and innovative procurement pathway to attract and efficiently deploy innovative ideas and projects to address port-related environmental challenges and opportunities.