University of South Florida


Ballast Point

[Photo courtesy of Matthew Paulson]

USF to tackle environmental challenges through new initiative with Tampa Bay Wave and the St. Petersburg Innovation District

By Tina Meketa, University Communications and Marketing

USF continues to strengthen its collaboration with Tampa Bay Wave and the St. Petersburg Innovation District through the creation of a new program that addresses some of the nation’s most pressing environmental concerns. 

The BlueTech|X Accelerator, led by Tampa Bay Wave, a leading tech start-up organization, will bring together small businesses and entrepreneurs who are pioneering ocean, coastal and Great Lakes-based solutions through observation technologies, products and services that address climate resiliency needs. 

Steve Murawski

Professor Steve Murawski

"USF is poised to make a substantial contribution to the BlueTech|X Accelerator, leveraging our Gulf Coast research facilities, faculty expertise in oceanography and environmental and marine sciences and strong ties with Tampa Bay's entrepreneurial community," said Sylvia Thomas, USF vice president for Research & Innovation.

Professor Steve Murawksi from the College of Marine Science will facilitate experiential learning opportunities by providing access to the college’s labs and research vessels, as well as offer training modules in various technologies.

“The blue economy is a major contributor to the Tampa Bay region, supporting thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity,” Murawski said. “Training the next generation of entrepreneurs, managers and scientists is an important mission of USF and we at the College of Marine Science are pleased to participate in this innovative accelerator program.”

"As a lifelong resident of Florida, I am deeply committed to preserving our region's invaluable coastlines and beaches. This generous NOAA grant allows us to expand our decade-long collaboration with USF, launching an innovative accelerator focused on ocean-based climate resilience. The BlueTech|X Accelerator is not just a step towards safeguarding our natural resources, but also a move to bolster Tampa Bay's innovation ecosystem, creating high-value tech jobs in the process," said Linda Olson, CEO of Tampa Bay Wave.

The BlueTech|X Accelerator is made possible through a $250,000 grant the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded to Tampa Bay Wave through its Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerators program. The accelerator will be instrumental in shaping innovative solutions in ocean renewable energy, coastal and ocean carbon sequestration, hazard mitigation and ecosystem services.

The Innovation District is home to the Ocean Team and the Maritime and Defense Technology Hub, two maritime sector collaborations that will benefit from products, services and talent generated by the BlueTech|X Accelerator.

“Tampa Bay has one of the southeast U.S. largest concentrations of blue economy professionals with a long history of working together to solve critical issues,” said Alison Barlow, executive director of the St. Petersburg Innovation District. “I am excited that this grant will provide the opportunity to deepen our work with innovators who seek bold solutions to important questions facing our coastal community.”

Following its initial development, USF, Wave and the Innovation District are eligible to compete for additional funding through the NOAA Climate Resilience Accelerator Program for further implementation of the BlueTech|X Accelerator. 

In addition to this new initiative, USF has recently partnered with Wave to create the HealthTech|X Accelerator and the FinTech|X Accelerator. USF also has a number of projects with the Innovation District, including the creation of the planner in residence course, in which students helped develop a master plan for the district’s neighborhood.

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