The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a significant step towards addressing climate change and bolstering climate resilience by announcing the Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerator program. This $60 million investment, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, is part of President Biden’s ambitious Investing in America agenda. The program, a joint effort by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), aims to foster public-private partnerships that support small businesses in developing sustainable technologies geared towards climate resilience. These partnerships will attract capital, mature technologies, and scale business models for impactful climate solutions.
Supporting Small Businesses and Climate Resilience
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo emphasized the need for collaboration between the public and private sectors to combat the urgent threat of climate change. By engaging America’s small businesses, the backbone of the economy, the program seeks to create climate solutions that strengthen communities and local economies. The investment from the Investing in America agenda ensures that these businesses are part of the effort to develop next-generation technologies and innovations for climate resilience.
The Role of Accelerators in Climate Resilience
The program will work with private entities known as accelerators, which play a crucial role in supporting the growth of innovative early to mid-stage businesses. These accelerators provide training, resources, mentorship, and seed funding to help bring products to market. In this case, NOAA will invest in business accelerators that focus on ocean observation technologies and information services. These accelerators will explore how these technologies can support climate resilience solutions and develop sustainable business models that align with climate goals.
Identifying Climate Resilience Themes
NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad highlighted the wide-ranging impact of climate change across American communities. The program’s goal is to bring together government, the private sector, academia, tribes, and stakeholders to find effective strategies for climate resilience. Eligible U.S.-based organizations will partner with the program to develop business accelerators that focus on specific ocean-based climate resilience theme areas. These areas include:
- Ocean-based renewable energy.
- Coastal and ocean carbon sequestration monitoring and accounting.
- Hazard mitigation and coastal resilience.
- Ecosystem services, including change detection, analysis, adaptation, and mitigation.
- Other ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes-based climate resilience theme areas as determined by the applicant.
Advancing Public-Private Partnerships
The Climate Resilience Accelerator Program has the potential to spark novel and innovative solutions through public-private partnerships. By supporting coastal communities and advancing the nation’s blue economy, the program aims to address the growing need for climate resilience effectively.
Two-Phase Competitive Funding Opportunity
The program offers a competitive funding opportunity in two phases. Phase one, open for applications until September 11, 2023, will fund selected projects with up to $250,000 per project for accelerator program design. In the second phase, all applicants selected in phase one will have the opportunity to apply for funding of up to $10 million each to implement their program design.
A Promising Path for Climate Resilience and Adaptation
The ultimate goal of the program is to expand ocean enterprise public-private partnerships and foster sustainable business models for high-impact ocean-based climate technologies, products, and services. By doing so, the program aims to address the critical twin goals of climate resilience and adaptation. Carl C. Gouldman, the director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Office, expressed optimism about the potential outcome of the program, emphasizing the positive impact it can have on our environment and communities.
The Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerators program is a significant step forward in the nation’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our future. By investing in small businesses and fostering innovation, the program aims to build a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.