Maritime Blue Capital Assessment – Consolidated final report

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Washington Maritime Blue presented a report that assessed the current situation of the blue economy in the Washington state in the United States. This report researched possible funding structures and examined the regional maritime capital landscape to support the state’s maritime sector development. The document included a benchmark study. The Washington State was compared against four peer cities – Boston, Oslo, Rotterdam, and San Diego.

There are several gaps in the readiness of capital for small businesses

  • Banks do not offer loans higher than $750k to early-stage businesses.
  • Lack of flexible loan capital offered by Community development financial institutions (CDFIs)
  • Very few equity providers are focused on maritime.
  • Funding at the testing stage is especially hard to find for maritime-tech businesses.
  • Very few local corporations are partnering with SMBs and there is little funding to de-risk collaborations between these actors.
  • There is limited marketing of maritime-specific products across the capital spectrum from grant to equity
  • Few options like R&D grants or prize competitions targeted at maritime.

Peer cities are succeeding in the blue economy implementation

The Port of Boston is the largest port in Massachusetts and a key port along the seaboard of the East Coast. In 2019, The Port generated $8.2b in economic activity and supported 66,000 jobs through direct and indirect effects. The port is outstanding in managing container volume and in tourism and recreational activities. The ship repair sector is growing steadily as there is a high volume of fishing and tourism vessels that traffic the port.

The Port of Oslo is the largest public multi-purpose cargo port in Norway, leading all Norwegian ports in container and passenger volume. It is one of the world’s leading shipping hubs. Nearly 6,000 ships dock at the Port of Oslo annually, carrying a total of 6 million tons of cargo and more than five million passengers. The Oslo region is the world’s maritime hub for major shipping investors, maritime banks, and traders. It is also known as the top maritime city for technological innovation, especially related to the blue economy.

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. The port sustains more than 345,000 jobs and contributes €45.6 billion to the Netherlands’ economy, representing more than 6% of GDP. Rotterdam the 11th busiest port in the world and leads the shipping repair sector. It is one of the world’s largest fuel hubs, with 5 oil refineries and 45 chemical companies based in and around the port. The port has diversified energy sources to cleaner energy production such as biofuel and wind power.

The Port of San Diego is located within the San Diego Bay. In 2017, the Port’s overall economic impact was $9.4 billion, approximately 70,000 jobs in San Diego County are generated by the Port. The port is a leading cargo and recreational port. San Diego is home to leading institutions of both ocean and weather observation, many climate change investigations have taken place around this area.

Successful practices that peer cities do to catalyze the blue economy.

  • Maritime cluster organizations are responsible for coordinating across stakeholder groups to support SMBs.
  • Government initiatives and grants are essential support for SMBs.
  • Blue Economy incubators and accelerators help attract investment.
  • Industries of historical strength (e.g. submarines, shipping and ship repair, and oil and gas) are finding new markets and applications and providing solutions for the blue economy.
  • The sectors that grow the most in the blue economy are those related to technological solutions, water transportation, and shipping.
  • Traditional industries and governmental financial institutions are investing in disruptive technologies.
  • Governments encourage maritime start-ups to focus on high-tech innovation.

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