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Eight Startups Pursuing A Sustainable Blue Economy Via BlueSwell – Forbes

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The sustainable growth of a blue economy doesn’t have to come at the cost of ocean health, say leaders from BlueSwell, a Boston-based incubator run by SeaAhead Inc. and the New England Aquarium.

BlueSwell has chosen a second cohort of startups supporting ocean health, tackling areas including plastics remediation, water sensor technology and sea urchin aquaculture.

“Humans are heavily reliant on the ocean for many reasons, and as global populations continue to grow, so too will the ‘blue economy,’ including in the U.S.,” says John Mandelman, vice president and chief scientist with the aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life.

About 40% of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In 2018, the blue economy supported 2.3 million American jobs, contributing about $373 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product through activities from tourism and recreation to shipping, transportation, fishing, power generation, research, and goods and services. The value of global ocean economy is expected to double to $3 trillion over the next decade.

“This growth also places substantial stress on the world’s ocean—which is already facing unprecedented direct and indirect threats due to climate change—from increased industrial activities, such as fisheries, ship traffic and coastal development, to name a few …” Mandelman says.

“The responsible growth of the blue economy depends on the advent and/or scaling of technological advances small and large, with a strong commitment to conservation. The BlueSwell program focuses on incubating scalable technologies in a variety of domains, including those related to sustainable food from, and renewable energy in, the ocean.”

The startups chosen in the latest group include Aristotle’s Lantern, with a goal of creating urchin ranching solutions for the restoration of kelp habitat and urchin fisheries in California and New England, and Blue Meadow, developing an autonomous monitoring robot that helps ocean farmers improve yields and monitor their sites remotely.

BlueSwell cohort II startups will receive $35,000 each, including Can I Recycle This? and Ithaca Clean Energy, along with Mabel Systems, Oceanic Labs, Organicin Scientific and USEFULL.

“Each startup has the ability to use the funds to support the needs of their company during the course of the program, including on expenses such as travel and product development,” says Alissa Peterson, cofounder and executive director of SeaAhead, a benefit corporation.

This year’s cohort started Oct. 5; the first half of the program focuses on helping the teams develop a clear value proposition, understanding their customers and the impact of their innovations. Each startup is matched with mentors and connected to potential customers and partners to gather feedback and industry input. A Demo Day takes place in March.

“Last year’s virtual Demo Day attracted nearly 400 participants, which demonstrates the large interest the community has in these types of innovations,” Peterson says.

“It is a broader mission of both SeaAhead and the New England Aquarium to engage a wide audience in taking a solution mindset when it comes to ocean sustainability.

“This engagement has the potential for future knock-on effects, including influencing the community to use their consumer spending in ways that are beneficial to the ocean, such as supporting local sustainable seafood and decreasing single-use plastics.”

The first cohort has reportedly raised more than $6 million since the program started in 2020. BlueSwell’s grants are made possible by partners including foundations, public sector organizations, companies and individuals.

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How will the coronavirus omicron variant affect the economy? – Marketplace.org

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Scientists are racing to figure out omicron, the new coronavirus “variant of concern,” and governments are scrambling to devise strategies for dealing with it. Several have rushed to enact new travel bans and dust off mask requirements.

On Friday, the United States announced that it would ban visitors from South Africa and seven other countries in the region. And on Monday, President Joe Biden said he expects no additional travel bans and doesn’t think new shutdowns are necessary.

So what might omicron have in store for the U.S. economy?

We don’t need more lockdowns for the virus to damage the economy. It can do that via plain old fear. Gad Levanon, who heads the labor market institute at The Conference Board, said that if omicron turns out to be, say, a slightly worse delta, we might expect a similar economic result.

“Spending on leisure and hospitality would be impacted, spending by older people and families with young children that are not vaccinated — they will be spending less — and especially, I think, tourism will take a big hit,” he said.

The U.S. has ended up trying to manage the virus rather than stamp it out, but some other countries — countries with whom the U.S. trades — are inclined to take a stricter approach.

“China is still persisting with its zero-COVID policy, so if we saw more disruption and closures of factories, that would weigh on supply chain problems that have already been an issue,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

How omicron might affect inflation is another question that, for now, is unclear.

“In the near term, you’re going to have a sharp, sudden reduction in consumer demand,” said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group.

That would bring inflation down. But if omicron turns out to be particularly serious, supply chain problems might intensify in a month’s time, keeping prices up. “The effect is mixed but differs over time,” Bremmer said.

We don’t know yet what threat omicron poses to global health, but we do know that the virus controls the economy, and the information we get over the next few weeks will dictate the path our economy takes.

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How Much of a Threat Is the Omicron Variant to the Economy? – The New Yorker

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How Much of a Threat Is the Omicron Variant to the Economy?

President Joe Biden stands at a podium wearing a black suit and blue tie. There are holiday decorations and a painting...

Biden urged Americans to get fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors, adding, “The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”Photograph by Anna Moneymaker / Getty

What a difference a few days makes. This time last week, retail analysts were looking forward to a bumper holiday-shopping season, the stock market was making new highs seemingly by the day, and economists were predicting that annualized G.D.P. growth could top eight per cent in the final quarter of the year. The Delta-variant surge in COVID-19 cases, which had been rapid during the summer, seemed to be behind us. Speaking at a White House event where President Joe Biden announced that he was nominating Jerome Powell for a second term as the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Powell said, “Today, the economy is expanding at its fastest pace in many years, carrying the promise of a return to maximum employment.”

Then came the news of the Omicron variant, which prompted the worst Black Friday sell-off on Wall Street since 1931 and a distinct change in tone from Powell. “The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation,” he said, in prepared congressional testimony that the Fed posted on its Web site on Monday afternoon. “Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.”

Before the release of Powell’s testimony, the financial markets had rebounded somewhat from Friday’s drop. The Dow rose by more than two hundred points, and the S. & P. 500 also closed up. The price of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are widely regarded as a haven during times of market stress, fell back after posting big gains before the weekend. Crude oil, which on Friday plunged by about ten dollars a barrel, owing to worries of a slowing global economy, rose by about three dollars.

For once, the market reaction was reasonably rational. The discovery of a new variant, possibly a more contagious one, and the immediate imposition by many governments of new travel restrictions, created a lot of uncertainty about the global economy. Because investors had been pricing in a “new normal” in which COVID-19 didn’t go away but did become manageable, a wave of precautionary selling and profit-taking was inevitable. Similarly, given how little we really know about Omicron, Monday’s pause to assess things also made sense. There were reports from South Africa that some of the new cases are mild ones, but scientists warned that it’s too early to reach any judgment about the lethality of the new variant. Anthony Fauci, the President’s chief medical adviser, informed him at a meeting of the White House COVID-19 response team that it would take about two weeks to “have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant.” Afterward, Biden urged Americans to get fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors, but he said that further lockdowns were “off the table” for now. “The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he added.

At this stage, that judgment applies to the economy as well as the public-health situation. In a circular to clients over the weekend, economists at Goldman Sachs outlined four ways in which this new variant could play out: a “false alarm” scenario, in which Omicron actually spreads less quickly than Delta and has little economic impact; a “downside” scenario, in which Omicron spreads more rapidly than Delta but isn’t significantly deadlier, and has only a modest economic impact; a “severe downside” scenario, in which Omicron turns out to be more contagious and deadly than Delta, prompting another wave of lockdowns and a significant economic downturn; and an “upside” scenario, in which Omicron spreads faster than Delta but proves much less deadly. In this upbeat outcome, a “net reduction in disease burden leaves global growth higher than in our baseline . . . the recovery in goods and labor supply accelerate.”

Even if that final scenario smacks of wishful thinking, it is true that the range of possible outcomes is broad. It is also important to note that the situation is very different from the start of the pandemic, when the original strain of the coronavirus had free rein. For an extremely bad economic outcome to materialize, there would have to be another wave of widespread and lengthy lockdowns—either compulsory ones imposed by governments or voluntary ones caused by people retreating to their homes out of fear. Such a set of events is conceivable, but it would likely have to be preceded by a big wave of hospitalizations and deaths in areas where Omicron is circulating, not merely more cases. As long as the vaccines continue to offer protection against the most serious illnesses, countries with high rates of vaccination will hopefully be able to escape such a tragedy. (As experts have long argued, to protect the residents of developing countries, which generally have lower rates of vaccination, it is imperative to make vaccines more widely available.)

For now, the Biden Administration and other governments are extremely reluctant to impose more lockdowns, which would be politically controversial and economically damaging. Their medical advisers are busy pointing out that the vaccines have provided significant protection against the previous variants. There is “reason to be optimistic,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told MSNBC on Monday. However, the World Health Organization released a technical note that described Omicron as “a highly divergent variant,” and it said that the over-all global risk from Omicron is “very high.”

Powell’s warning about downside economic risks means that an appearance he’ll make before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday will be closely watched. It comes as the Fed is set to decide whether to tighten monetary policy more rapidly to head off higher inflation. The emergence of Omicron further complicates this decision, because, as Powell indicated in his prepared testimony, it could affect the economy in several different ways. If a severe fourth wave does materialize, hiring could appreciably slow again, but short-term inflationary pressures could also conceivably increase as disruptions to the supply chain intensify. The year-end meeting of the Fed will be held in a couple weeks. Between now and then, Powell and his colleagues will be watching the news anxiously. Just like the rest of us.


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Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation

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The Bank of Canada will work with Indigenous groups to understand the wounds caused by decades of discrimination and determine how reconciliation can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Monday.

Macklem, opening a symposium on Indigenous economies, said Canadians could work to correct some of the consequences of those “ugly periods.”

Ottawa forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous children from their communities and put them in residential schools in an effort to strip them of their language and culture, a practice that continues to scar families and individuals.

“The Bank of Canada will be working with a broad spectrum of Indigenous groups to set out what reconciliation means for what we do,” Macklem said.

“Together, we’ll define what reconciliation means for the work of the Bank of Canada — toward a more inclusive and prosperous economy for everyone,” he said.

Canada‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the residential school system “cultural genocide” in 2015, as it set out 94 “calls to action” to try to restore Canada‘s relationship with its Indigenous people, including economic reconciliation.

“We can’t go back and change what’s happened. But we can try to correct some of the consequences,” said Macklem, adding that it is the central bank’s job to create conditions for opportunity for all Canadians.

“Taking concrete steps toward economic reconciliation is our responsibility too. And it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well,” said Macklem.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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