‘BLUEtide’ initiative aims to help ocean entrepreneurs


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


As part of the BLUEtide Initiative, one of eight strategic initiatives of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Disaster and Economic Recovery Plan, the Puerto Rican non-profit organization Bluetide Puerto Rico, backed by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), will hold a conference Aug. 4, 5 and 6 to invite entrepreneurs from all industries to turn to the “blue economy” as an opportunity for economic growth.


The blue economy refers to local or recreational fishing, and other maritime opportunities such as transportation and shipping, technology, habitat restoration, hospitality, recreation and tourism, retail trade, the insurance industry, mechanics and engineers, coastal resilience, coastal and beach cleanup, and companies involved in creating energy through ocean resources.


To help companies better understand the blue economy and how they can benefit, the group has organized the Bluetide Caribbean Summit 2021, the first global summit dedicated to the private sector regarding the blue economy of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to be held next month at El Conquistador Resort.


“Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a unique opportunity to lead eco-responsible business innovations in the international market, export services, technology, products and knowledge in Blue Economy Solutions for the world,” said Juan Bauzá, economic development representative for PR and the USVI at the EDA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.


When you live on an island, it all depends on the ocean, the organizers said.


“The sea is a territorial extension capable of offering us food, energy and economic development,” said Guifre Tort, interim executive director of Bluetide Puerto Rico Inc. “We want to help companies understand that the ocean is more than a geographical edge and can be a great business opportunity for them.”


Having received $9 million from the EDA to assist in the development of the blue economy in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Bluetide will work hand-in-hand with the EDA to expand the region’s maritime opportunities, Bauzá said.


The summit will feature the presentation of the U.S. Caribbean Strategic Implementation Plan prepared by Tetra Tech.


“This is an excellent opportunity for a wide range of companies to not only learn about the Blue Economy, but also to discover new niches in this emerging economy,” Bauzá said.

“When you live on an island, everything depends on the health, maturity, strength and resilience of the Blue Economy, from importing goods to basic food security. Therefore, the purpose of this conference is to educate and network with international experts in the field, to open a space for dialogue about what is currently being done internationally, and the opportunities available through federal resources to innovate, and how Bluetide PR with its teams and assets that can support and facilitate these economic growth opportunities.”


Bauzá added that the entity uses the funds to acquire equipment and develop professional training programs aimed at the sustainable use of ocean resources, to create jobs and generate economic growth, while preserving the health of ecosystems.


“Our mission with the Bluetide Caribbean Summit is for local entrepreneurs to better understand the importance of their role in this entire effort and at the same time be able to achieve greater growth in their industries,” he said.


The Bluetide Caribbean summit will feature more than 35 participants from the private and government sectors who will share their knowledge to help strengthen the marine and maritime activities of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.


The event will feature talks, work sessions and workshops, and will have an on-line component, making it a hybrid event, Bauzá said.


“What makes this summit unique is that it is completely focused on opportunities for the private sector and companies of all types and levels of capacity. It is not addressed only to researchers or academics, as ocean conferences usually are,” he said. “The goal of the EDA, in conjunction with Bluetide Puerto Rico, is to help companies gain a competitive advantage to grow and export through the services they can receive, thanks to federal funds earmarked for this purpose, and through our marine ecosystem by providing them with the tools and contacts they need to optimize this dynamic and environmentally responsible concept.”


Entrepreneurs, investors and professionals from various sectors who wish to attend the conference can contact BluetideCaribbeanSummit.com, where they will find the agenda with the topics and speakers, and the registration link.