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Gulf Blue Navigator Program Applications Open

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 01:00pm

Applications are now open for the Gulf Blue Navigator: a six-month program that provides scaling blue technology startups with market access to the Gulf of Mexico region, proximity to federal agencies, technical facilities and expertise.

The Gulf Blue Navigator features virtual and in-person interactive workshops provided by a network of practitioners, specialists and experts in the Gulf Coast region. Companies will travel to Mississippi to participate several days a month, where they will join site visits to relevant federal agencies, stakeholders and experience the best the Mississippi Gulf Coast has to offer. Selected companies will receive $25,000 in financial support to subsidize the cost of travel and accommodation. The program design maximizes value for global blue technology startups that specialize in in uncrewed maritime systems, precision marine aquaculture, ocean-related data analytics, coastal restoration, ocean-friendly plastics, sea and space systems and ‘the Future of Maritime.’ Ideal applicants will have a prototype, earn less than $1M in recurring annual revenue and be ready to scale.

“The Gulf Blue Navigator is the first bluetech program in the Gulf of Mexico; bringing to bear the vastness of the Gulf Coast’s ocean-related infrastructure for the most promising global blue technology startups,” said Mark Huang, co-founder at SeaAhead. “Participating startups will have the ability to interact with a supportive ecosystem of federal agencies, industry and academia." 

The Gulf Blue Navigator initial program partners include: NOAA, The University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State University, The Mississippi Aquarium, The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport, Leidos, Harrison County Development Commission, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission, Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, City of Gulfport, and City of Diamondhead. Partners are engaged as practitioners in their fields to teach workshops, mentor startups, and provide place-based expertise on doing business in Mississippi. This local ecosystem is critical to providing startups with a welcoming and supportive environment.

"We are excited to partner with the Gulf Blue Navigator to explore the opportunities that await us at the intersection of research, industry, and innovation," said Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, director of NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

The Gulf Blue Navigator program aims to inspire entrepreneurship locally, regionally, and globally. In doing so, it will provide access to the Blue Economy for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. Leveraging partnerships with state and federal agencies, academic institutions, and commercial enterprises, the program will provide many opportunities for involvement and mutually beneficial economic growth.

"JSU is excited to participate in the Gulf Blue Navigator program. The program has the potential to create applicable job opportunities for our students, expand participation of JSU researchers in tech innovation, and promote diversity and inclusion in the blue economy." said Almesha L. Campbell, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Jackson State University.

Funding for the Gulf Blue Navigator is provided by a grant from the Builders Initiative Foundation, whose oceans impact strategy centers around four core program areas: sustainable fisheries management, ocean resilience, ocean plastics, and catalyzing restorative aquaculture. Additional financial support is provided by the Members of Coast Electric through their Operation Round Up program in partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

For more information about the program and application, please refer to the website: or apply directly through the portal at:


The USM Research Foundation is a Mississippi non-profit corporation formed in 1998 and is administered and operated exclusively for the benefit of The University of Southern Mississippi. The foundation supports and enhances the research mission of the University by promoting the increase of useful knowledge and encourages the development of intellectual property owned by the University. The foundation also provides support to the University by managing research contracts, coworking space and entrepreneurial programs.


Headquartered in Massachusetts, SeaAhead Inc. specializes in high potential ocean-focused technology startups, building global networks, and venture financing. Now co-located in the Gulf & Ship Island building in Gulfport, SeaAhead’s platform, in tandem with USM’s infrastructure and mission of fostering a culture of innovation, will connect promising global blue technology startups to the Mississippi Gulf Coast blue economy.

Media inquiries should be directed to:

USMRF: James Coll: james.collFREEMississippi

SeaAhead: Hailey Bathurst –