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The Gulf Blue Navigator Program Selects Six Startup Companies

Mon, 02/19/2024 - 09:30am | By: Gabriela Shinskie

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) - with the support of its partners, the USM Research Foundation, NVision Solution’s Unmanned Coast, and Jackson State University - has selected Cohort 1 of blue technology startup companies for the unique Gulf Blue Navigator program. This group follows a pilot cohort of six companies that jump-started the program from November 2022-April 2023.

These blue-tech startups are provided an opportunity to operate in a unique region of the United States, characterized by a complex body of water. The Gulf of Mexico presents distinct challenges and conditions, which allows startups to explore new applications and refine the capabilities of their platforms. Additionally, startups can enrich their experience by interacting with individuals who already confront these challenges daily.

This comprehensive program provides access to local assets to shorten the development timeline for blue technology startups. Scaling startups will gain market access while engaging with university, industry, state, and federal partners, and potential customers. The Gulf Blue Navigator provides access to state-of-the art research facilities, wet-labs, co-working space, mentors and networking, and year-round access to warm coastal waters.

The new cohort is focused on uncrewed systems. The selection committee started with a pool of over 260 potential applicants, narrowed the total applicant pool to 16 applicants across three countries to select the final six. Each will receive support for their costs for the program, including travel to the Gulf Coast over the four-month program.

The startup companies include:

  • Oscilla Power Inc.: Developing an advanced wave energy converter that can power an uncrewed vessel and unlock the tremendous renewable energy potential of the world’s oceans. (HQ: Washington)
  • V2 Forensics: Developing innovations to access, extract, decrypt and parse data logs with high detail. The results are a single platform to reduce complexity and time when investigating uncrewed vessel activity as well as advance cybersecurity. (HQ: Mississippi)
  • Levanta Tech.: Developing a versatile drone that can float on the ocean, collect data, and fly swiftly on demand. (HQ: Missouri)
  • Mythos AI Inc.: Developing advanced automation and self-driving for vessels to increase the resiliency of our waterways and solve the workforce shortage. (HQ: Florida)
  • BLUEiQ: Creating dual-use passive acoustic sensing to protect biodiversity, reduce effects of anthropogenic noise on marine life, and enhance ocean safety and security. (HQ: Massachusetts)
  • SeaSats, Inc.: Developing high endurance, modular construction, and portability combine with a user-driven UI and easy payload integrations to create a uniquely powerful uncrewed surface vessel package. (HQ: California)

Each of the five out of state companies has registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State and now has an office location in the Gulf and Ship Island Building in downtown Gulfport, MS. The goal of the program is to further their growth and expansion in the region.

Participants in the Gulf Blue Navigator will benefit from NVision’s global network of expertise and success with the Unmanned Coast Cluster, along with USM’s renowned facilities, faculty and staff. The program includes advanced interactive workshops taught by practitioners in the field, site visits and introductions with large industry and federal agencies, co-working space at the historic Gulf and Ship Island Building in Gulfport, and customized mentorship to meet the needs of each startup.

A few successes from the previous pilot cohort include that five of the six pilot cohort companies remain reengaged in the region. Three of the companies are working on manufacturing efforts with local industry partners and 4 have signed agreements for working with USM. Additionally, two are actively seeking to locate facilities in the region to expand.

The Cohort 1 program will kick off the week of February 19th with the group participating in a business-to-business event with potential regional partners, suppliers and manufactures, and customers. They will learn firsthand about the region’s blue economy industry sectors to help them identify potential business opportunities and resources to grow their company.

The Gulf Blue Navigator is made possible by the participation, support and financial contributions of our sponsors and partners who assist with recruitment, selection, curriculum, mentoring and more. This project was paid for in part with federal funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act).

About the organizations:

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.

Unmanned Coast, a program of NVision Solutions, Inc., coordinates business activities among companies supporting unmanned systems on the Mississippi Coast. Unmanned Coast supports the growing unmanned system operational and development needs of this industry driven by the US Department of Defense, US Department of Homeland Security, and science agencies. Unmanned Coast advocates for member businesses providing expanded opportunities for doing business with the government and broadening the footprint along the gulf coast and beyond into other industries and markets. We specialize in partnering and teaming businesses to win contracts.

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in metropolitan Jackson, Jackson State is located near downtown, with five satellite locations throughout the area