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Schmidt Marine Technology Partners


 

 

 

 

Investing in Ocean Solutions

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Schmidt Marine Technology Partners


 

 

 

 

Investing in Ocean Solutions

About

Schmidt Marine Technology Partners is a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation that supports the development of ocean technologies with compelling conservation and research applications, as well as strong commercialization potential. We do that by providing scaled funding for development work, and related business support in areas such as legal, accounting, and communications. Our goal is to tailor assistance to the needs of each group to help them move their ideas across the dreaded "Valley of Death" and be ready for a sustainable level of paying contracts, licensing, or more traditional investments.

We created this “venture philanthropy” model to fill an often-fatal gap in support available for the development of ocean technologies, which typically require something beyond traditional grants in order to achieve full potential and availability.  Ultimately, our philanthropic funding, in combination with our market-based approach, helps address complex ocean issues.

We are happy to support academic researchers interested in spinning out a company, a start-up working out of a garage, or anyone else working on an innovative idea with the potential for significant impact. Currently, we are working mainly with groups that we contact directly. However, if you believe you are working on an idea that could fit our model, please email us at info@schmidtmarine.org with a one-paragraph description—not a proposal. We review projects on a rolling basis, so there are no deadlines. If your work falls within our purview, we will contact you for more details.

We remain as flexible as possible in the types of projects we support so that we will be able to champion the best ideas wherever they are found. Current areas of interest include—though are not limited to—ocean sensors, coral reef health, reducing marine plastic pollution, advancing ocean research, and innovative ways to address illegal fishing. We are not currently funding projects related to renewable energy, shipping efficiency, geoengineering, aquaculture, or oil-spill clean up.

As our program grows, we hope to act as a networking and information hub for the marine technology field. If you are an individual or organization interested in collaborating with us in fostering a new generation of ocean innovation, please send us a note.

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Team


Team


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Mark Schrope

Mark is Schmidt Marine's Program Director, applying skills developed as both a scientist and writer to the identification and evaluation of promising marine technologies. He began his career studying deep ocean carbon cycling at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, after receiving a B.S. in biology from Wake Forest University, and an M.S. in chemical oceanography from Florida State University. In 1999, after completing the Science Communications program at UC Santa Cruz, he converted to ocean-focused journalism and outreach. Mark’s articles, often including his own photos, have appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Popular Science, Outside, The New York Times, and other publications. He has consulted for clients such as  the Scripps Research Institute, Sea Grant, The Living Oceans Foundation, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, and Yale University. Wearing various hats, he has worked on over a dozen research vessels on expeditions around the world.

Michael SHen

Michael works as a program analyst for Schmidt Marine, analyzing new ocean technology solutions to see whether they are economically viable and environmentally beneficial. He attended University of California, Berkeley and received a B.A. in integrative biology. Michael previously worked as a financial systems analyst at the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a sister non-profit entity of Schmidt Marine. Michael is particularly interested the prevention of plastic pollution as well as the development of inexpensive sensors for research.  

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Jake Hanft

Jake works as a program analyst for Schmidt Marine, helping to research and analyze economically viable solutions to complex ocean health problems. A San Francisco native, Jake graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in international relations with a global environment emphasis, and a minor in English. As an undergraduate, Jake interned at then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's Capitol Hill office, covering environmental issues. He has a background working at in the intersection between economics and sustainability, and is passionate about preventing bycatch and restoring coral reefs. 

Don Gerhart

Don is President and CEO of Challenger Biosciences, an R&D services company founded by Don in 2009 to help clients build enduring new ventures that benefit the sea.  Originally a marine biologist and faculty member at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, Don shifted his professional focus more than two decades ago to concentrate on the advancement of scientifically-based innovations.  Over the course of his career, he has worked with hundreds of new products and emerging companies, including several that eventually went public and attained market capitalizations exceeding $1 billion.  Don is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and holds a doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a consultant with Schmidt Marine providing business development support to program grantees and others working to advance promising marine technologies. 

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Grantees


Grantees


Below is a selection of the technology projects Schmidt Marine supports, organized according to our four focus areas.

Habitat Health:

Dr. David Vaughan and a team of Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are using micro-fragmentation to rapidly accelerate coral growth for restoration purposes. These corals are also being tested to understand which genetics strains are resilient to future ocean conditions. The Mote team hosts workshops to disseminate these techniques to other scientists and community groups. Sarasota, FL.  

Dr. David Vaughan and a team of Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are using micro-fragmentation to rapidly accelerate coral growth for restoration purposes. These corals are also being tested to understand which genetics strains are resilient to future ocean conditions. The Mote team hosts workshops to disseminate these techniques to other scientists and community groups. Sarasota, FL.  

ORCA, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, is experimenting with a low-cost pollution sensor that can help identify coastal waters most in need of study with the group’s more elaborate Kilroy sensor packages. Their overall goal is to apply these technologies to the identification of key pollution sources. Fort Pierce, FL.

ORCA, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, is experimenting with a low-cost pollution sensor that can help identify coastal waters most in need of study with the group’s more elaborate Kilroy sensor packages. Their overall goal is to apply these technologies to the identification of key pollution sources. Fort Pierce, FL.

DISCO is a diver-operated submersible chemiluminescent sensor for oxygen radicals and other fleeting marine chemicals, previously difficult (or impossible), to measure in situ. Colleen Hansel is working with other scientists and engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to build and validate the system, which she will initially use to explore the role of oxygen radicals in coral health and bleaching. Woods Hole, MA

DISCO is a diver-operated submersible chemiluminescent sensor for oxygen radicals and other fleeting marine chemicals, previously difficult (or impossible), to measure in situ. Colleen Hansel is working with other scientists and engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to build and validate the system, which she will initially use to explore the role of oxygen radicals in coral health and bleaching. Woods Hole, MA


Sustaining Fisheries:

Conservation X Labs is working on a handheld DNA Barcoder that will allow field identification of fish or other samples within a few hours. The technology leverages genetic species indicators identified through the Barcode of Life program to increase transparency, especially in the realm of illegal fishing and seafood mislabeling. Washington, D.C.

Conservation X Labs is working on a handheld DNA Barcoder that will allow field identification of fish or other samples within a few hours. The technology leverages genetic species indicators identified through the Barcode of Life program to increase transparency, especially in the realm of illegal fishing and seafood mislabeling. Washington, D.C.

Pelagic Data Systems produces a solar-powered, low-cost monitoring system for small fishing vessels that combats illegal fishing by tracking activity, while also providing direct benefits to fishers such as enabling them to certify catches as sustainable. They are also building an associated fishing gear tracking tag aimed at preventing trap and net losses that cause major environmental damage.  San Francisco, CA.

Pelagic Data Systems produces a solar-powered, low-cost monitoring system for small fishing vessels that combats illegal fishing by tracking activity, while also providing direct benefits to fishers such as enabling them to certify catches as sustainable. They are also building an associated fishing gear tracking tag aimed at preventing trap and net losses that cause major environmental damage.  San Francisco, CA.

SafetyNet Technologies is building sophisticated LED systems that exploit the natural attraction of different fish to specific colors of light. They will use the systems in various configurations to reduce fishing by-catch by either attracting specific species, or creating attractive escape paths for non-target species or animals that are too small. London, England.

SafetyNet Technologies is building sophisticated LED systems that exploit the natural attraction of different fish to specific colors of light. They will use the systems in various configurations to reduce fishing by-catch by either attracting specific species, or creating attractive escape paths for non-target species or animals that are too small. London, England.

Sea Ranger Service trains unemployed youth for jobs monitoring marine protected areas. They are developing technology to harness FM radio signals to track and prevent illegal fishing. Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Sea Ranger Service trains unemployed youth for jobs monitoring marine protected areas. They are developing technology to harness FM radio signals to track and prevent illegal fishing. Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Enabling Ocean Research:

OpenROV designs and builds tethered underwater drones for ocean research, exploration, and recreation. Their new vehicle, the Trident, will offer unprecedented capabilities at a cost low enough to open countless new possibilities for ocean exploration. Berkeley CA.

OpenROV designs and builds tethered underwater drones for ocean research, exploration, and recreation. Their new vehicle, the Trident, will offer unprecedented capabilities at a cost low enough to open countless new possibilities for ocean exploration. Berkeley CA.

FOCE, Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment System, is a seafloor “biodome” system that is diver deployable and enables manipulation of temperature, pH, and other parameters. This will enable previously impossible studies of the effects of environmental changes on various ocean habitats. David Kline, is working on a prototype of FOCE at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. San Diego, CA

FOCE, Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment System, is a seafloor “biodome” system that is diver deployable and enables manipulation of temperature, pH, and other parameters. This will enable previously impossible studies of the effects of environmental changes on various ocean habitats. David Kline, is working on a prototype of FOCE at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. San Diego, CA

Seatrec has developed a method to harvest renewable energy from the sea by exploiting water column temperature gradients. This energy can power new measurement capabilities and extended functional lifespans for oceanographic research equipment such as profiling floats and gliders. Pasadena, CA  

Seatrec has developed a method to harvest renewable energy from the sea by exploiting water column temperature gradients. This energy can power new measurement capabilities and extended functional lifespans for oceanographic research equipment such as profiling floats and gliders. Pasadena, CA

 

Brian Glazer, of the University of Hawaii, is building low-cost, open source sensors to measure a range of oceanographic parameters such as sea-level, temperature, conductivity, pressure, and pH. Honolulu, HI.

Brian Glazer, of the University of Hawaii, is building low-cost, open source sensors to measure a range of oceanographic parameters such as sea-level, temperature, conductivity, pressure, and pH. Honolulu, HI.


Marine Plastic Pollution:

Ambercycle is working to prevent ocean plastic pollution by reducing the manufacturing demand for virgin plastics. Their unique process allows for the extraction of PET from various feedstocks for conversion into new fabric, all while avoiding typical industrial fermentation, gasification, and depolymerization techniques. Berkeley, CA. 

Ambercycle is working to prevent ocean plastic pollution by reducing the manufacturing demand for virgin plastics. Their unique process allows for the extraction of PET from various feedstocks for conversion into new fabric, all while avoiding typical industrial fermentation, gasification, and depolymerization techniques. Berkeley, CA. 

Biocellection is using synthetic biology to tackle plastic pollution. They focus on creating the first viable option for recycling polystyrene, including Styrofoam, to produce raw materials for textiles. San Jose, CA.

Biocellection is using synthetic biology to tackle plastic pollution. They focus on creating the first viable option for recycling polystyrene, including Styrofoam, to produce raw materials for textiles. San Jose, CA.

Ethan Edson of Northeastern University, in collaboration with Mark Patterson, is building MantaRay, the first automated microplastic sensor. MantaRay will work on multiple platforms, including autonomous underwater vehicles and buoys, and will provide much needed data to illuminate a poorly understood issue in ocean pollution. Nahant, MA.

Ethan Edson of Northeastern University, in collaboration with Mark Patterson, is building MantaRay, the first automated microplastic sensor. MantaRay will work on multiple platforms, including autonomous underwater vehicles and buoys, and will provide much needed data to illuminate a poorly understood issue in ocean pollution. Nahant, MA.

The Rozalia Project is building a microfiber catcher called the Cora that can be used in washing machines to prevent microfibers from reaching the ocean. Granville, VT.    

The Rozalia Project is building a microfiber catcher called the Cora that can be used in washing machines to prevent microfibers from reaching the ocean. Granville, VT.