BlueSwell, partnership between New England Aquarium and SeaAhead, named Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Idea


Initiative wins Honorable Mention in Corporate Social Responsibility and Experimental categories

NEW YORK (May 4, 2021) — The winners of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to pursuing innovation when it comes to solving health and climate crises, social injustice, or economic inequality.

BlueSwell Incubator Program, a partnership between the New England Aquarium and SeaAhead that combines the power of creative problem-solving and marine science, won an Honorable Mention in the Corporate Social Responsibility and Experimental categories in a year when the magazine said it had its largest number of submissions ever. BlueSwell supports new startup businesses seeking economic and sustainable solutions in renewable energy, marine debris and pollution, low carbon ocean transportation, food sources, and resilient waterfronts.

“This is a thrilling affirmation of the importance of this work,” said John Mandelman, Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “There has never been a more critical time for us to address climate change and marine conservation with ingenious new thinking and initiatives. We are so pleased to be recognized for this creative collaboration.”

Alissa Peterson, Co-Founder & Executive Director for SeaAhead, said: “We are excited about this award as we begin to recruit the next cohort of innovators. The ‘blue economy’ is a wide-open frontier, expected to deliver more than a $1 trillion to the global economy by 2030, but with this growth, humanity’s impact on the ocean continues to increase as well. We are very pleased to be honored for this work which is helping to stimulate a new generation of entrepreneurs who are improving ocean sustainability, and in the process, create new resilient jobs across the skill spectrum.”

Now in its fifth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 33 winners, more than 400 finalists, and more than 800 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, AI & Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 4,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. Plus, several new categories were added, including Pandemic Response, Urban Design, and Architecture. The 2021 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Brazil to Denmark to Vietnam.

Showcasing some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling exigent global challenges, Fast Company’s Summer 2021 issue (on newsstands May 10) highlights, among others, a lifesaving bassinet; the world’s largest carbon sink, thanks to carbon-eating concrete; 3D-printed schools; an at-home COVID-19 testing kit; a mobile voting app; and the world’s cleanest milk.

“There is no question our society and planet are facing deeply troubling times. So, it’s important to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, impact, design, scalability, and passion to solve these problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have discovered some of the most groundbreaking projects that have launched since the start of 2020.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

About SeaAhead:

SeaAhead is a benefit corporation, founded in Boston, with the mission of supporting venture innovation for the ocean. We are creating a bluetech startup platform, helping to build companies through our BlueSwell incubator, facilitating investments through the Blue Angels and catalyzing a bluetech cluster in the Northeast. Our ecosystem includes technologists, scientists, startups, foundations, corporations, governments and other ocean stakeholders that are coming together to create impact in areas including greener shipping and ports, aquaculture and fishery processes, offshore alternative energy and resilient waterfronts. SeaAhead’s bluetech mandate also includes scalable solutions to marine debris and ocean-centric approaches to the challenges of climate change.

About New England Aquarium:

The New England Aquarium is a global leader in marine science and conservation, working to safeguard ocean animals and habitats. With more than 1.3 million visitors a year, the Aquarium is one of the premier visitor attractions in Boston and a major public education resource for the region. The Aquarium’s research and rescue efforts build on the institution’s 50-year legacy of protecting the blue planet and advocating for vital and vibrant oceans. In the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, scientists conduct applied marine research that informs ocean management, policy, and industry practices, and contributes to the innovation of new technologies. Through its Sea Turtle Rescue Program, the Aquarium helps protect critically endangered and threatened sea turtle populations through rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts.


Pam Bechtold Snyder –, 617-686-5068