New cohort of startup companies supporting ocean health selected for BlueSwell incubator program


Partnership between SeaAhead and New England Aquarium focuses on early-stage entrepreneurship in bluetech

man with fishing equipment on a small boat
Aristotle’s Lantern diver and COO Jeff Maassen collecting purple urchins in Southern California. COURTESY: Shaun Wolfe/Aristotle’s Lantern

BOSTON, MASS. (Sept. 21, 2021) – SeaAhead, Inc. and the New England Aquarium have chosen a new cohort of startup companies for BlueSwell, a first of its kind incubator program in the Northeast focused on supporting early-stage entrepreneurship in bluetech.

BlueSwell supports the creation and growth of startups with scalable solutions that enhance ocean health, sustainable ocean industry, and global resilience. The program focuses on bridging the gaps among innovators, ocean experts, industries, and the venture community, enabling the path toward commercialization. After a rigorous selection process, the program will be funding eight exciting projects for its second cohort in areas of impact including plastics remediation, water sensor technology, and sea urchin aquaculture. The startup companies are:

  • Aristotle’s Lantern – Creating urchin ranching solutions for the restoration of kelp habitat and urchin fisheries in California and New England.
  • Blue Meadow — Developing an autonomous monitoring robot that helps ocean farmers improve yields and monitor their sites remotely.
  • Can I Recycle This? — Providing consumers with location-specific recycling information to empower them to make sustainable choices before checkout, guide their recycling practices at home, and influence retailers to provide recyclable offerings.
  • Ithaca Clean Energy — Digital solutions bridging the green and blue economies, enabling offshore wind and fisheries to prosper together.
  • Mabel Systems— Providing accurate and automated data through camera-based inventory systems for seafood processors to make better and faster decision-making to reduce product loss, while increasing transparency and traceability.
  • Oceanic Labs— Creating scalable instruments for aquaculture, coastal monitoring, and the growing blue-green economy.
  • Organicin Scientific — Harnessing 50 billion years of evolution to design drugs for the post-antibiotic era.
  • USEFULL — Eliminating single-use food/beverage products through a tech-enabled circular economy solution, with proprietary technology and a custom-designed inventory of vacuum-insulated stainless steel to-go cups and containers.

Participants in the incubator program benefit from SeaAhead’s bluetech domain expertise, network, and experience in building companies, along with the Aquarium’s five decades as a global leader in ocean conservation research and as a trusted steward of the ocean. Cohort ll will kick off on October 5 with mentor matching, industry site visits, and a focus on the customer.

“We are thrilled to welcome our biggest cohort yet, which represents a fantastic diversity of ocean-related sectors,” said BlueSwell Program Manager Katherine Woolford. “We look forward to enabling them to achieve their missions. With a hybrid model this year, the cohort will benefit from a strong sense of community and even more opportunities to engage our wider network.” SeaAhead Executive Director Alissa Peterson sees this as, “a sign of growing momentum in New England’s bluetech ecosystem and BlueSwell’s value. As we scale our support, we are bringing to bear regional partnerships for our innovators to access New England’s expertise and infrastructure in tackling the ocean’s most pressing problems.”

BlueSwell’s Cohort I, which launched in 2020, was a great success, with founders creating business models, developing leadership skills, and building connections to begin commercialization. Displaying resilience in the midst of the pandemic, the cohort has raised over $6 million since the program started last fall.

“The Aquarium’s scientific team was thrilled to help guide Cohort I founders so their ventures could best contribute to a healthy, resilient, and regenerative ocean and blue economy,” said John Mandelman, Vice President and Chief Scientist at the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “We look forward to building on this model by partnering with this outstanding group of founders in Cohort II.”

BlueSwell provides direct grants of $35,000 to each startup selected and does not take equity, which is made possible by sponsoring foundations, public sector organizations, companies, and individuals that prioritize venture-based innovation as a new source of solutions for the ocean. The program includes a tailored 20-week curriculum, mentorship from SeaAhead and the Aquarium’s ocean science, policy, and advising arm (the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life), an extended network of advisors, and coworking for the length of the program at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. Startups join with a product or an idea that has the potential to create positive impact for the ocean, and leave with the knowledge and networks to run their businesses, bring their products to market, and raise funds.

A Dropbox folder of images and video is available here.


Pam Bechtold Snyder –, 617-686-5068