Should you look seriously at the opportunities thrown up by the blue economy? A new report suggests you should…
If you are an entrepreneur, investor or generally thinking strategically about the future, I recommend you take a serious look outwards, towards the opportunities in the Blue Economy and Indian Ocean.
How and why research the Blue Economy?
Since May this year I’ve spent a few hundred hours doing a deep dive with some great collaborators to define WA’s oceans-related opportunities.
There were many motivations to do this: a love for the sea, looking for interesting markets in which to do a new startup, and wanting to find ways in which we in WA can contribute beneficially to the earth and humanity.
Rather than do market research and keep it private, we believed the work should be made public.
Publishing the ‘Blue Report‘ tests its validity and also means no-one else needs to invest all the time and money to repeat it.
If it is compelling, trusted and well-received then the ocean and dependent populations (humans and otherwise) would benefit. Wins all round!
This same ethos explains why the WA Ocean Foundation charity receives all the donations made for copies of the report.
Also of interest for startups and supporters: we took a “lean startup” and “customer development” approach to whole new industries, not just individual companies or products.
We defined hypotheses, ran cheap, fast experiments, interviewed ‘customers’ for insights, defined and refined value propositions, tested assumptions and beta-tested many aspects. We will continue to use the same approach for future related projects.
The results of this Phase 1 work are in a report launched at the recent Freo Startup Fest and were discussed on two panels at Rotto Tech Fest.
The report is full of hundreds of citations, case studies, statistics and identifies nine specific areas of opportunity e.g. Remote Intelligence, and Oceanic Identity. There are links to more information and downloads at the end of this article.
Eight reasons to catch the wave
Why should we consider the oceans, the blue economy or read a report about it…?
Ideal positioning – WA is the leading marine hub in a region of 32 nations and 2.5 billion people. It’s widely recognised that WA has more marine science capability, shipbuilding capacity, valuable fisheries and expertise in marine operations than anywhere else around the Indian Ocean. We have a distinct competitive advantage in a huge, growing market.
Increasing valuations – Ocean health, as measured by acidity, temperature, fisheries sustainability and plastic pollution, is declining. At the same time the number of us dependent on the ocean for oxygen (50% globally), energy (50% in WA), protein (20% in WA) and even fresh water (20% via desalination in WA) are all increasing. For better or worse, this means we are inextricably linked to the fortunes of the oceans and its related industries and products. The OECD predicts the value of oceans-related economic activities will double by 2030.
Purposeful innovation – Doing things that are good for the environment and serving neighbouring nations less fortunate than us, are meaningful, purposeful and socially beneficial. As well as you feeling good, doing things like this is attractive to talent – a major ingredient necessary for any successful venture.
Local champions with global connections – From the UNESCO IOC office in West Perth to L3 Harris Oceania in Fremantle, from Tim Winton to Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, and from Blue Ocean Monitoring to Ocean Grown Abalone, we have many people, companies and initiatives that are local, yet world-leading and collaborating globally on conservation, innovation and more. Why not join them?
Big problems, bigger opportunities– Changes in ocean health, social expectations and economic conditions could be seen as problems or opportunities. An example is rising sea level causing coastal erosion and threatening valuable infrastructure. We could see this as a cost and hassle, or realise that if we have to invest in solutions and adapt to changing conditions anyway, why not be really good at it and export that expertise to other markets that really need it?
It’s trending – Many local and global initiatives are directing more and more attention to the oceans and adding to the momentum, such as impact investment funds, plastic pollution prevention initiatives, NASA Hackathons, UNESCO’s Decade of Ocean Science from 2021 to 2030 and even some forthcoming blockbuster movies. It really is a wave and will surge for decades.
Because you LOVE it – 95% of West Australian’s live within 50 kilometres of the coast. We are an island nation. We eat seafood at Christmas. We spend holidays at the coast or on islands off it. A huge percentage of us surf, swim, kite, SUP, dive, fish, sunbathe, sail, loll about and generally have very positive emotional connection to the ocean. So, why not start or be part of a venture that suits your lifestyle, aligns with your passions and generates positive emotions?
You’re wanted – From Austal declaring they want to be a tech company, to Fremantle Octopus and Ocean Grown Abalone‘s aggressive equity-funded growth strategies, blockchain traceability being a priority for our high-value fisheries to the WA Marine Science Institution’s to the use of Pawsey to analyse marine data…there are plenty of opportunities and demand for entrepreneurs, investors, and tech-savvy talent.
Getting involved in the Blue Economy and oceans-related innovation could mean you are in a sweet spot of alignment: where the needs of Indian Ocean nations intersect with WA’s existing capability and your talent, and all aligned with major global trends and drivers.
We, you, could just be in the right place at the right time to surf this wave for great benefit.
For all these reasons and more, spend some time looking into the ocean. If you are interested in some specific industry sectors or investment opportunities to focus your attention, please do check out the For Blue report.