SeaAhead and New England Aquarium now welcoming new applicants for BlueSwell Incubator program


Program helps fund startups focused on ocean sustainability solutions

Blue Swell logo

BOSTON, MASS. (May 20, 2021) – Following an exciting inaugural cohort, SeaAhead, Inc. and the New England Aquarium are pleased to open the application period for the next cohort of the BlueSwell Incubator program, a first of its kind program in the Northeast focused on supporting early stage entrepreneurship in bluetech.

BlueSwell is designed to help with the creation and growth of startups that have the potential for significant impact on ocean sustainability and global resilience. The incubator, which officially launched in June 2020 as a partnership between SeaAhead and the New England Aquarium, focuses on bridging the gaps between innovators, ocean experts, industries, and the venture community. BlueSwell leverages SeaAhead’s bluetech domain expertise, network, and experience in building companies, and the Aquarium’s five decades as a global leader in ocean conservation research and as a trusted steward to the oceans.

“Our vision is to create a thriving community of innovators commercializing solutions that will have a meaningful impact on ocean health. The program is philanthropically funded and does not take equity, so we can take significant risk in backing new cutting-edge business models,” said Alissa Peterson, co-founder and Executive Director of SeaAhead. “The program goal is to assist each cohort member on their path to commercial traction. Early stage bluetech entrepreneurs need assistance that can range from customer discovery to preparation for fund raising in this emerging venture sector.”

Six startups were selected for the first BlueSwell cohort, which took place from November 2020 through April 2021. The program provides teams with (1) $35,000 of funding to get their organizations off the ground, (2) access to leaders from industry, investment, academia, government, and NGOs, (3) a cohort of peer companies to learn from, and (4) mentorship and a curriculum designed to improve their leadership skills and business acumen. The teams from Cohort I include AKUA, a company creating food from ocean-farmed kelp, and Hydronet, which aims to build and operate high-speed Wi-Fi communication networks underwater. The group has now already collectively raised over $3 million to scale their startups, and four have pilots either underway or set to launch in early 2021.

“It has been inspiring to watch the Cohort I companies grow through the program,” said John Mandelman, Vice President and Chief Scientist at the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “The ocean is invaluable to humans but also vulnerable to negative impacts from our activities, such as climate change. With increasing ocean use, we must keep it healthy, including safeguarding ocean habitats, species and ecosystems. Excitingly, we believe innovative technological solutions, such as those from our recent BlueSwell Cohort 1 graduates, can help solve many of the challenges facing our ocean today and are key to driving the responsible growth of the blue economy.”

Applications opened for the program’s second cohort on May 20, 2021 and will close on July 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. A webinar will be held on June 3 to review the program and application process. Please see the website for more information. The BlueSwell program is free to the selected entrepreneurs, which is made possible by sponsoring foundations, public sector entities, companies, and individuals that prioritize the ocean as a source of solutions, including the US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, the U.S. Economic Development Agency, Orsted, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative, Cambridge Innovation Center, Giant Shoulders and Goodwin Proctor.

BlueSwell recently received an Honorable Mention in the Corporate Social Responsibility and Experimental categories for Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards. SeaAhead and the New England Aquarium have raised over $1.8 million to support BlueSwell’s growth.

About SeaAhead

SeaAhead is a benefit corporation, founded in Boston, with the mission of supporting venture innovation for the ocean. We formed SeaAhead to encourage and accelerate new bluetech startups with commercial solutions that solve the biggest challenges facing ocean industries and ocean health. These new companies will build on scientific and advocacy advances to create massive scalability, and change our global trajectory. Our ecosystem includes technologists, scientists, startups, foundations, corporations, governments and other ocean stakeholders that are coming together to create impact in areas including clean shipping and ports, aquaculture and fishery processes, offshore alternative energy, marine debris, resilient waterfronts and ocean-centric approaches to the challenges of climate change. Through our Boston hub space, the BlueSwell Program, our Blue Angels investor group and an engaged public and private-sector network, SeaAhead supports the entrepreneurs that will turn the tide.

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