Pensacola Bay Oyster Co. won the top prize winner at this year's Innovation Awards.
"It feels fantastic," said Donnie McMahon, president and co-founder of the company. "It really does. It was an honor to be selected and a great honor to move the company ahead in what we're trying to do in Northwest Florida."
The Innovation Awards, held this week at the Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel, are a competition that serves as a funding opportunity similar to the TV show "Shark Tank." Divided into four business categories — post-revenue, pre-revenue, veteran and student — 61 startup companies applied to this year’s competition. Judges whittled down the applicants to the best three in each category, and those companies presented their business plans Thursday.
The East Coast was literally built on oysters. At the peak of their production as a food source, these shellfish were so plentiful from the Gulf Coast to New England that discarded shells were crushed and used to pave roads. Oysters kept bays and waterways clean—Chesapeake Bay residents didn’t need to treat or filter their water. A 1913 National Geographic article proclaimed them “the world’s most valuable water crop,” cultivated as a year-round, dependable and inexpensive protein source. About 150,000 people in 35 countries worked to produce “the most popular and most extensively eaten of all shellfish.”
The situation more than a century later is quite different. Oysters remain desirable, but populations have been decimated. The Gulf of Mexico has just 10 percent of its peak oyster population, and Chesapeake Bay is down to a mere 1 percent. The situation has been described as dire by many locals, who’ve seen dredging, overharvesting and disease destroy oyster habitats.
Encouraging collaboration between scientists and business has always been a prime mission at the MARBIONC Center. We were pleased to recently host an event aimed specifically at small start-ups in the seafood and aquaculture industries, which of course ties in directly with our marine science research.
The Fish 2.0 organization’s first regional workshop in the southeastern United States was held here, on our CREST Research Park campus, March 15 through 17. Nearly two dozen fledgling enterprises from a 12-state region attended, making connections and gaining skills needed to attract investors and grow their businesses.
Entrepreneurs with shellfish-related ventures in the 12-state Southeastern U.S. region have until April 29 to apply for a competition intended to give winners a toehold in the sustainable seafood market.
Fish 2.0, founded by executive director Monica Jain, uses a competition platform to connect seafood innovators, investors and industry experts so that promising ventures can find funding and knowledge resources.
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Oysters, crab, shrimp, lobster and scallops were on the menu at this week’s Fish 2.0 South Atlantic & Gulf Coast Shellfish Workshop, hosted by University of North Carolina Wilmington at the university’s MARBIONC facility.
Fish 2.0, founded by executive director Monica Jain, uses a competition platform to connect seafood innovators, investors and industry experts so that promising ventures could find funding and knowledge resources.
[Click here for the full article]
Tucked away in a warehouse just south of downtown Greenville, marine biologist Valeska Minkowski has been quietly incubating a food source that’s typically found thousands of miles away off the coast of California: Pacific white shrimp.
In June, Minkowski started an indoor shrimp farm called Urban Seas Aquaculture. It’s a big change of pace for the scientist who once spent her summers reintroducing long-spined sea urchins to coral reefs off the coast of Florida.
Now Minkowski is part of a small, yet growing group of American farmers trying to feed the country’s seemingly insatiable appetite for shrimp and other seafood, without damaging coastal ecosystems and using harmful chemicals.
Fish 2.0 will hold a free three-day business development workshop for South Atlantic and Gulf Coast shellfish entrepreneurs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) March 15–17, 2017. Participants will learn how to communicate about their business in a way that attracts interest, practice pitching to investors and buyers, and get advice on integrating social and environmental sustainability into their business strategy. The simple one-page workshop application, available at www.fish20.org/atlanticgulfworkshop, is due by Feb. 13.