Federal funding will advance innovation and economic resiliency in Maine’s seafood industry in response to COVID-19
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) has been awarded a total of $749,856 to support GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Blue Innovation Recovery program. This program seeks to provide direct support to local seafood-related startups and small businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This competitive funding was awarded through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge.
“Maine’s working waterfront is central to the livelihoods of families, communities, and small businesses throughout our state,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “We welcome this investment in the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which will help our seafood industry weather the coronavirus pandemic through innovative technology.”
Maine’s seafood industry has been under significant strain due to restaurant closures, trade disruptions, and new safety protocols resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has estimated that nearly 70 percent of all seafood eaten in the United States is consumed in food service establishments.
To assist small businesses with operational challenges presented by the pandemic, GMRI and SeaAhead—a Boston-based bluetech startup platform—will use this federal funding to establish the Gulf of Maine Blue Innovation Recovery program. The program will help connect small businesses and entrepreneurs with leading organizations and stakeholders in the seafood industry, creating a lasting digital platform to promote growth, job creation, and resiliency for years to come.
Today’s funding announcement builds upon the efforts of the Seafood Economic Accelerator for Maine (SEAMaine). Senator Collins and King both advocated for the creation of SEAMaine, a strategic roadmap to strengthen Maine’s marine economy funded by EDA.
GMRI is a nonprofit organization that researches the complex marine ecology of the Gulf of Maine and studies the many challenges of ocean stewardship and economic growth in the region. The institute provides students and teachers with science education resources and engages fishermen in collaborative research.