Washington Maritime Blue Declared Finalist for $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Washington Maritime Blue was chosen from more than 500 nationwide applicants for initial funding and is the only finalist from Washington state to now compete for once-in-a-generation funding of up to $100 million of $1 billion in the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s challenge

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#BuildBackBetterWashington Maritime Blue, in partnership with 14 regional coalition partners, announces it has been selected as a finalist for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Maritime Blue is an independent, nonprofit organization building the leadership, infrastructure, and global connections to scale an equitable and sustainable blue economy. This award furthers its mission to foster thriving communities and a healthy economy and planet.

For Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the EDA is awarding $30 million in planning grants to its 60 finalists. Maritime Blue is the only finalist to be selected from Washington state and is one of the only established cluster organizations to move on to the final phase.

“We are proud to be selected as a finalist of the EDA’s Build Back Better Challenge,” said Joshua Berger, Founder and CEO of Washington Maritime Blue. “This achievement speaks to the strength of our coalition members and support partners and the projects they are invested in supporting, as well as the strength of our cluster and the programs underway driving systemic and meaningful change across sectors. We are excited to dive into this next phase.”

Maritime Blue will use the $500,000 award to integrate the region’s blue economy cluster and other sectors to achieve commercialization of new technologies that decarbonize heavy duty transportation and reduce emissions, generate thousands of new jobs, and provide a resilient foundation for sustainable economic growth. The vision and title of the consortium’s approach is “Build Back Blue: Green Energy to Charge the Blue Economy.” One example is the Joint Innovation Project, which includes the Zero-emissions Fast Foil Ferry for Kitsap Transit, with innovative design concepts from industry partners Glosten and Bieker Boats. Several other projects focus on the production, movement, storage and use of renewably generated hydrogen in regional hubs.

“This is an incredible achievement for the Maritime Blue team and all coalition members and partners involved in the Build Back Better efforts,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “As the consortium led by Maritime Blue moves on to the final phase, we’re proud to see Washington state’s commitment to building a clean energy and blue economy future recognized, especially because this shows the potential of our emerging innovation cluster strategy.”

Washington State, with funding by the EDA, is also developing a multi-year cluster program, the Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP), to strengthen industry ecosystems and accelerate economic development. The goal is to support six to eight Innovation Clusters in 2021 and expand the program over the coming decade. Build Back Blue partners CHARGE, CleanTech Alliance, Enterprise Digital Growth Ecosystem (EDGE), and Port of Benton are all ICAP recipients, thus leveraging cluster development across the state.

For more information on the initiatives behind the region’s Build Back Blue Challenge, visit The Washington Maritime Blue blog here. The final proposal will be submitted to the EDA by March of 2022 for consideration of implementation funding that will range from $25 to $100 million.

“Washington State is leading again in the blue economy, through collaborative efforts that are helping inspire and drive positive sustainable environmental and economic impact,” said U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06). “This investment in Washington State will help support our families and grow critical green infrastructure for the region that will last for generations to come.”

The coalition members that will be leading the projects and programs include Washington Maritime Blue, Clean Tech Alliance, CHARGE, 5G Open Innovation Lab, VertueLab, Aerospace Futures Alliance, City of Tacoma, Tacoma Power, Kitsap Transit, Port of Benton, Douglas County Public Utility District, CFS Energy Group for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, Lewis County, Impact WA, and the WA State Department of Commerce. In addition, there are 45 support partners that include key industry members as well as public and NGO organizations. All members of the Washington State Federal delegation also signed letters of support.

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About Washington Maritime Blue

Washington Maritime Blue is a non-profit, strategic alliance formed to accelerate innovation and sustainability in support of an inclusive blue economy. With a mission to implement Washington State’s Strategy for the blue economy delivered by Governor Jay Inslee’s Maritime Innovation Advisory Council, we are a partnership between industry, public sector, research & training institutions, and community organizations. Maritime Blue works to create a world-class, thriving, equitable and sustainable maritime and ocean industry through knowledge sharing, joint innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization, business and workforce development. Learn more at https://maritimeblue.org/


Eric Schudiske (eric@s2spr.com)