The Sustainable Ocean Alliance and its Ocean Solutions Accelerator take on the problems facing our planet’s waters, and the latest cohort of companies in the latter show a fresh slate of issues to address and resources to utilize. From reef rehabilitation to a “Fitbit for fishing boats,” they’re trying to fix things up in the oceans or at least mitigate the damage we’re doing down there.
The accelerator’s four week, all-virtual (like all of them these days) program focuses on the unique challenges faced by social good companies in this space.
“Startups in the sector are still struggling to find adequate funding during the early phases of operations,” the accelerator’s co-founder Craig Dudenhoffer told TechCrunch in an email. “Many of the solutions (especially hardware) are costly to produce and take a heavy upfront cash investment. We found that out of the hundreds of applicants, only a fraction had received substantial investments. We believe more investors need to educate themselves on opportunities in the ocean sector.”
The SOA team selected nine companies for this wave, only three of which are U.S.-based. “This year, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw our largest and most diverse applicant pool to date,” said Dudenhoffer in the release announcing the companies. “I was particularly encouraged by this year’s applicant pool to see the varying types of solutions, as well as an increase in the number of entrepreneurs that are actively building technologies to address the critical challenges that face the ocean.”
SOA founder Daniela Fernandez recently noted that their area of operation is especially international, so keeping things virtual actually opens up a lot of possibilities, especially for smaller companies that can’t afford to temporarily relocate. “It gives you so many options and makes it far more inclusive,” she told me. “Everybody just has
Mojca Zupan was a corporate lawyer doing just fine—“comfort-zone-fine,” as she puts it—in 2016, when a museum exhibit changed her life.
The Plastic Garbage Project depicts the “the origins, life cycle, sense, and senselessness of plastic products.” “I saw these big microscopic pictures of microfibers,” Zupan says of the tiny grains of plastic that slough off synthetic textiles and seep into bodies of water. “It’s ridiculous. Washing machines pollute so heavily.”
Explore dynamic updates of the earth’s key data points
She did some research. Technically, a solution for catching microfibers existed. But awareness of the issue was low. “I didn’t get the feeling that something would be done about it in the near future,” Zupan says. “I became determined to change the washing machine industry.” Within a year, Zupan had started PlanetCare and begun selling the company’s first product, a filter that attaches to household washing machines and catches those tiny, polluting microfibers before they reach the world’s oceans.
A washing machine generates microfiber waste in the course of doing its job. By soaking, churning, and scrubbing a garment, it inevitably dislodges woven fiber particles into the laundry wastewater.
Roughly the size of a Nalgene bottle, the PlanetCare filter sticks onto the side of the machine and has nozzles on either side connecting to the water hose and to the drain. The filter itself is a three-dimensional mesh sieve designed to catch fibers as small as 0.1 millimeters, or 90% of the microparticles that would typically flow back into the water supply. A starter pack with seven filter cartridges costs $112; people can also join as “members” for $12 a month. PlanetCare is based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Zupan’s home, and while most of its customers are in Europe, it does ship to
Frank Ocean is known to be an elusive and restrained public figure. Outside of lyrics on projects like Channel Orange and Blonde, he very rarely shares his personal thoughts.
However, the R&B singer is letting it be known he is not a supporter of the current POTUS. Ocean took to his Instagram Stories to comment about last night’s presidential debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Debates are on. It all feels fake. The problem’s that it’s not,” wrote Ocean. “Donald is president and might not leave the White House even if he loses the race so some say. [Please] vote. Watching him dragged out will be way more entertaining than these debates.”
Trump has repeatedly refused to agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he is not reelected on November 3. That refusal to adhere to a nonviolent presidential transition has alarmed many politicians, pundits, and voters. Trump currently trails Biden by 6 points in the national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
Ocean added on IG, “If you’re not registered swipe up to Blonde.co the form just takes 2 minutes to fill out. Goodnight.” The Grammy winner’s Blonded website provides an online voter registration form. The site also has vote.org links for American citizens to check their registration status, view an early voting calendar, request an absentee ballot, and sign up for election reminders.