Seatrec Wins Spot in Inaugural Gulf Blue Navigator Program to Bring Ocean Innovation to the Gulf of Mexico

The University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation-led initiative aims to recruit technology startups focused on improving ocean health, securing critical infrastructure, increasing coastal resilience and driving the Blue Economy

VISTA, Calif. – WEBWIRE – Monday, November 7, 2022 Seatrec, a renewable energy company that harvests energy from temperature differences in the environment, today announces that it was selected as one of six startups to join the inaugural Gulf Blue Navigator Program established by the University of Southern Mississippi Research Foundation and SeaAhead. Seatrec and the other startups in the new program were selected from a pool of 48 applicants across 12 countries.

The Gulf Blue Navigator program provides innovative, ocean-focused startups with market access to the Gulf of Mexico region, proximity to federal agencies, technical facilities, and expertise. These blue technology startups will leverage the existing strengths and capabilities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and shorten the timeline of product development and market access.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a critically important area both economically and in terms of people affected by hurricanes,” explains Yi Chao, Ph.D., CEO and Founder of Seatrec. “Addressing the challenges facing the Gulf – from better predicting hurricanes to developing sustainable economic growth – requires innovative technology and Seatrec is excited to be part of the inaugural cohort.”

There is evidence to support that rapid intensification of major hurricanes – like Katrina, Irma and Ian – is strongly influenced by ocean conditions below the surface but current methods do not allow timely subsurface measurements over a large area.

Seatrec’s innovation to harvest energy from the ocean’s temperature differences can reduce the data collection interval from 10 days to 8 hours – 30 times more data than the battery-powered alternative – and increase the spatial coverage. This new wellspring of data provides a missing piece to improve the hurricane forecast, especially during rapid intensification.

Before the hurricane season in 2022, Seatrec successfully deployed two ocean-powered floats in the Gulf of Mexico to demonstrate the concept of operation. Support from the Gulf Blue Navigator program will allow Seatrec to expand the number of floats to be deployed before the next hurricane season in 2023 and collect the data needed to provide timely and accurate predictions of hurricane rapid intensification.

The program will also help Seatrec expand the development of clean, renewable power solutions for commercial applications across industries from transportation to aquaculture.

Startups participating in the program are provided access to advanced interactive workshops taught by practitioners in the field, site visits with large industry and federal agencies, co-working space at the historic Gulf and Ship Island Building in Gulfport, and customized mentorship to meet the needs of each startup. The program will kick off the first week of November with the cohort visiting all three Coastal counties as a first step to developing partnerships to accelerate commercialization.

About Seatrec
Seatrec designs and manufactures energy harvesting systems that generate electricity from naturally occurring temperature differences in ocean waters. This renewable energy can be used to power deep water oceanographic research equipment such as floats, gliders, and autonomous underwater vehicles, resulting in the most scalable, cost-effective deep ocean data collection possible. Incorporated in 2016 by CEO, Dr. Yi Chao, Seatrec’s technology originated at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, to provide clean power for remote off-grid locations. The company is headquartered in Vista, CA. Visit us at and @seatrecinc.

The USM Research Foundation is a Mississippi non-profit corporation formed in 1998 and is administered and operated exclusively for the benefit of The University of Southern Mississippi. The foundation supports and enhances the research mission of the University by promoting the increase of useful knowledge and encouraging the development of intellectual property owned by the University. The foundation also provides support to the University by managing research contracts, coworking space and entrepreneurial programs.

About USM
The University of Southern Mississippi’s support for the Gulf Blue Navigator program is anchored by the Marine Research Center with its ability to support autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) development ranging from prototyping to over-the-horizon at-sea testing, the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center which conducts research in algae, fin and shell-based aquaculture as well as recirculating aquaculture system-based farming, and the Mississippi Polymer Institute.

About SeaAhead
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., SeaAhead Inc. specializes in high-potential, ocean-focused technology startups, building global networks, and venture financing. Now also co-located in the Gulf & Ship Island building in Gulfport, SeaAhead’s platform, in tandem with USM’s infrastructure and mission of fostering a culture of innovation, will connect promising global blue technology startups to the Mississippi Gulf Coast blue economy.

Media Contact
Sean Yokomizo
+1 925.878.1200