Best Blue Economy Entrepreneurship Programmes

Innovation should be at the core of the sustainability transition in all the Blue Economy sectors. Entrepreneurs and start-ups play a key role in these innovation processes, exploring innovative business models which can address the current environmental threats such as climate change impacts, marine ecosystems degradation, loss of habitats, etc. Entrepreneurs can be the leading actors in transforming ecological challenges into economic opportunities while developing innovative and viable sustainable business models.

Either through direct investment or business programmes, these opportunities can help entrepreneurs to create commercially viable and sustainable businesses within the blue economy sectors.

1. SwitchMed and the Blue Economy (Mediterranean region)

The SwitchMed initiative is funded by the European Union and
implemented by UNIDO, UNEP, UNEP/MAP and SCP/RAC. How SwithMed can support entrepreneurs?

  • By creating ‘Switchers Support National Partnerships’
  • By developing sustainable business development tools
  • By supporting access to finance through the Switchers Fund
  • By building a network of changemakers through the Switchers
    Community support entrepreneurs and start-ups
  • By providing business support services for start-ups and entrepreneurs including: delivering green business model development trainings at local level; coaching and assisting selected green and circular economy entrepreneurs through tailored incubation services; offering specialized external technical assistance; supporting entrepreneurs to identify potential investors and become investor-ready as well as promoting financial deals to secure entrepreneurs’ growth and stability; ensuring impact monitoring, results dissemination and partnership sustainability; facilitating exchanges among Switchers, scouting opportunities and enhancing existing local green entrepreneurs’ networks.

Sectors that will be eligible are: coastal tourism, extraction and commercialisation of marine living resources, shipbuilding and repair, blue energy and blue bio economy.

More info at: https://switchmed.eu/start-ups-entrepreneurs/blue-economy-startups/

2. Blue Bio Value Acceleration (Europe)

The Blue Bio Value Acceleration is an acceleration program promoted by the Oceano Azul Foundation and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Committed to accelerate the transition to a global and sustainable blue bioeconomy, the program will help entrepreneurs create commercially viable and sustainable businesses. Most specifically, the Blue Bio Value Acceleration seeks solutions in the marine bioresources value chain that can scale-up to market applications in different industries and help tackle global societal challenges. 

  • A 7-week acceleration programme that represents a unique growth opportunity, structured in 2-week growth sprints focused on access to funding, overcoming legal barriers, overhaul business models, user research and journey, product development, sales and marketing, amongst others.
  • Talks and workshops by experts from different sectors and backgrounds, including CEOs, entrepreneurs, opinion leaders, investors, professors and many others.
  • Individual CEO-focused leadership coaching sessions.
  • Individual pitch practice
  • Access to Blue Bio Value high-level network that will be guiding you on specific aspects of your business and helping you reach your company’s goals, including 1-to-1 investor and mentorship sessions. Learn more about our mentors here.
  • Network of commercial partners, within processing and manufacturing industries and some of the best research and technology centres in Europe.
  • Access to a set of perks, including the 1-year membership in Bluebio Alliance, the Portuguese Network of marine bioresources and blue biotechnology, which gives you access to several benefits.
  • Final 2 weeks in Lisbon to participate in a field trip amongst key local ecosystem players and attend the Blue Bio Value Final Pitch Day (expenses covered by stipend).
  • The program will award the best startups with a total prize corresponding to 45.000€, which the winners will be able to spend in the Blue Demo Network.
  • Ongoing support for 12 weeks after the end of the program to support you overcome your business growth challenge.

Deadline: Apply by 30 May 2022.

More info at: https://www.bluebiovalue.com/acceleration/acceleration-2022/#1648674977957-6ed4c49a-1b59

3. EmpleaVerde Programme – Fundación Biodiversidad (Spain)

The EmpleaVerde Programme of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge is the Biodiversity Foundation’s initiative to promote and improve employment, entrepreneurship and the environment.

If you want to start a green/blue business, the programme offers you a set of free actions and services aimed at helping entrepreneurs to create and consolidate green businesses. Services include: training, support, mentoring, labs, networking events, newsletter, showcase events of projects and advice for new entrepreneurial projects that contribute to green/blue recovery and biodiversity conservation stand out.

More information at: https://empleaverde.es/  & https://constituye.emprendeverde.es/

4. Blue Economy Ocean Accelerator (United Kingdom/ Europe)

The Blue Economy Ocean Accelerator Programme helps ambitious founders rapidly build and develop their ocean impact startups. The programme helps startups to improve ocean health and achieve commercial success. The virtual programme provides the collegiality, resources, expertise and partnerships to accelerate participants’ path to success.

  • 8 WEEK programme with dedicated support, mentorship and collaboration for businesses working in the blue economy in the UK/EU.
  • help ocean ventures help raise profiles in the UK through offering public speaking opportunities, networking at our exclusive in-person events and pitching at our meet-the-buyers event in London connect ocean ventures to corporates, professional networks.
  • peer-to-peer circles and scientific academic partners
  • provide technical support & scale up commercial aims with leading experts, including access to pro bono legal support, social impact reporting, investment readiness sessions and tax advice.

The Programme Structure:

  • 8-week programme in total, commitment of between 5-10 hours each week required;
  • Pro bono support: including legal, investment readiness, tax, scientific advice and impact measurement;
  • Mentorship: 1 to 1 individual mentorship and group mentorship sessions;
  • Community: regular in-person meet ups and peer-to-peer community calls with other ocean founders;
  • Access to networks: personal invitation to attend our exclusive in-person networking events in London;
  • Pitching opportunities: pitching opportunities to funders,
    corporates and partners at our Meet-The-Buyers event.

More info at: https://www.bright-tide.co.uk/blueeconomy#:~:text=The%20Blue%20Economy%20Ocean%20Accelerator,develop%20their%20ocean%20impact%20startups.&text=The%20programme%20helps%20startups%20to%20improve%20ocean%20health%20and%20achieve%20commercial%20success

5. EIT Climate-KIC accelerator programme (Europe)

Our entrepreneurship pipeline has shifted into multi-stakeholder and transformational programmes. The Climathon programme for citizen activation and ideation first plants the seeds of inspiration. Our incubator, ClimateLaunchpad, then helps innovators turn ideas into climate-positive businesses – we’ve supported over 3,000 of them! Finally, ClimAccelerator scales and accelerates these start-ups through radical collaboration and sharing resources.

More info at: https://climathon.climate-kic.org/ & https://climatelaunchpad.org/ & https://climaccelerator.climate-kic.org/

6. Maritime ClimAccelerator (Europe)

The Maritime ClimAccelerator, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, through its vast network of collaborators, will offer participating start-ups funding, training, peer to peer coaching and theme-specific mentoring (both virtually and in-person). 30-40 start-ups will be accepted per year and will be asked to provide innovative solutions for the transition to sustainability of the maritime industry, both locally and globally, and will be given the opportunity to present their ideas in front of investors, port authorities and shipping companies. The Maritime ClimAccelerator will thus provide start-ups with a unique opportunity to test, demonstrate and validate their solution.

Services fro the Startups: mentoring and coaching, Extensive Training Program, Climate Impact Assessment, Co-working Spaces, Networking Events, Connection with Industry, Grants/Seed Capital, Facilitate Technology Demonstrations in a real-world test bed through leveraging our external partner network, Connection with the USA/Israeli innovation ecosystem (through KinisisVentures, Earth Fund and theDOCK).

More info at: http://maritime-accelerator.org/

7. The Blue Growth Accelerator (Europe)

GALATEA aims to support high impact projects led by SMEs through services provided by the participating clusters and/or through a voucher scheme which will allow beneficiaries to finance the development of their ideas/projects addressing the challenges in the Smart Port, Smart Ship, Smart Shipyard and Maritime Surveillance domains.

  • The Voucher Scheme: Get direct financial support up to 20.000 € if you apply
    individually for development and technology transfer activities or up to 60.000
    € per SME if you apply in a consortium of at least two SMEs to develop your
    prototype or demonstration projects.
  • Coaching services: The coaching services, operated by GALATEA partners aims to facilitate and support SMEs to carry out their innovation and scale-up activities. SMEs can apply individually to get support on: Business model elaboration, Technology expertise, Internationalisation, Funding Opportunities.

Deadline: Submit your proposal until the 30th of September
2022, 17:00 CET and get support by the GALATEA Blue Growth accelerator.

More info at: https://galateaproject.eu/innovation-support-call/

8. BlueInvest (Europe)

BlueInvest aims to boost innovation and investment in sustainable technologies for the blue economy, by supporting readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. It is enabled by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Services:

  • BlueInvest Community: Join the community to meet potential partners and investors, gain access to exclusive events, market intelligence and learning opportunities. The community is open to entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and innovation stakeholders interested in the Blue Economy. The content and activities are designed to help start-ups and SMEs with investment and growth prospects.
  • BlueInvest Pipeline: See the showcase of innovative projects and entrepreneurs who are shaping the Blue Economy. Projects consist of innovative, scalable and sustainable business ventures from traditional and emerging sectors of the maritime economy. Once you submit your application, the BlueInvest Team will assess your eligibility and set-up a dedicated profile on the European Maritime Forum.  The team will also contact you to share insight on how to enhance your project’s profile and make the most out of your showcase page.
  • BlueInvest Readiness Assistance: Over 200 companies are receiving tailored Readiness Assistance. Applications are currently closed. BlueInvest Readiness Assistance is an exclusive coaching programme for high potential start-ups and SMEs with innovative and sustainable products and solutions for the Blue Economy. Businesses and projects selected for Investment Readiness Assistance will receive coaching packages tailored specifically to their readiness levels and business objectives. The programme is impact-driven, with a clear focus on providing business support to help startups and SMEs build capacities for growth and attract investment.
  • BlueInvest Events: BlueInvest events are aimed at business impact. Events feature learning opportunities, knowledge exchange, networking and B2B matchmaking, in formats designed to transform business.
  • BlueInvest Academy: The academy offers capacity-building courses, training events and exclusive webinars to accelerate businesses for investment, market access and international expansion.
  • BlueInvest Grants: The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) supports the development of innovative services and technologies and awards grants to market- and investment-ready SMEs with innovative products, technologies and services for the blue economy.
  • BlueInvest Fund: The European Investment Fund, backed by the European Strategic Investment Fund, has earmarked finance for enterprises with innovative products and services that can help the blue economy deliver the EU’s Green Deal priorities. The BlueInvest Fund is structured as an EFSI Equity Product to provide finance to funds that are wholly or partly targeting the blue economy or to individual enterprises backed by more general funds.

More info at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/maritimeforum/en/frontpage/1451#:~:text=Views%20count-,BlueInvest,European%20Maritime%20and%20Fisheries%20Fund.

9. Global Greenpreneurs (Global)

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is a treaty-based international, inter-governmental organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies. Greenpreneurs is a free 12-week virtual incubator supporting young people to develop social enterprise solutions that address sustainability and climate change issues in their community. Developed in partnership with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and Youth Climate Lab (YCL), Greenpreneurs 2021 has selected 15 teams from around the world to participate in the third iteration of the program this summer, with weekly learning modules that include webinars and tasks, as well as weekly coaching from mentors and subject matter experts. At the end of the 12-week program, teams will compete for a chance to receive prize money to further expand their initiative.

More info at: https://gggi.org/global-program/greenpreneurs/ & https://www.greenpreneurs.co/

10. Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship (Caribbean region)

Branson Centre caters to businesses from diverse industries, including manufacturing, agricultural, digital transformation, tourism and so many others. They are scaling for impact by offering a specialized component of our accelerator programme for blue economy entrepreneurs. Working with the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator and Ocean Unite, Branson Centre is committed to grow a cadre of blue entrepreneurs, ready to work with nature to fuel a sustainable blue economy in the Caribbean.

What makes this specialized component different is that at the end of the programme:

  • blue entrepreneurs in the scaleup phase will have the opportunity to pitch to our group of investors
  • seed-stage blue entrepreneurs who fall below J$25M – J$200M in gross annual sales will be connected with angel investors for the opportunity to grow their business

More info at: https://bransoncentre.co/blue-economy/

11. Ocean Impact Accelerator Program (Australia)

The Ocean Impact Accelerator Program helps ambitious founders rapidly build and develop their ocean impact startups. The program helps startups to improve ocean health and achieve commercial success. The virtual program provides the collegiality, resources, expertise and partnerships to accelerate participants’ path to success. Although the applications to the 2022 cohort are now closed, startups interested in participating in future cohorts are encouraged to express their interest to be notified of future programs.

More info at: https://www.ocean-impact.org/accelerator-program-2022

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