KEDA: Accelerating Maritime Autonomy Industry via Innovation Program Grant
6 Apr 2023
WAV-C, Maritime, Autonomous Vehicle Cluster
WAV-C aims to make the Pacific Northwest the premier destination for autonomous technologies and a standard for international excellence.
One year ago, the state of Washington State Department of Commerce awarded a $500,000 grant to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) to establish the Washington Autonomous Vehicle - Cluster (WAV-C) under the Innovation Cluster Acceleration Program (ICAP). Innovation Cluster program. KEDA’s program is now fully staffed, has established relationships with local, regional, and global partners, and is exploring local pilot projects including an autonomous foot ferry and environmental cleanup in Puget Sound.
WAV-C operates as a coalition of public and private organizations working together to accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Their mission is to accelerate innovation across the state and federal landscape for autonomous and unmanned vehicles, particularly in the maritime sector. WAV-C is aggregating resources to enable Washington's companies to succeed in maritime autonomy and generate thousands of jobs statewide.
WAV-C aims to make the Pacific Northwest the premier destination for all autonomous technologies and a standard for international excellence.
KEDA Executive Director Joe Morrison, highlighted the importance of the Washington Autonomous Vehicle - Cluster (WAV-C) in supporting the growth of the technology industry in Kitsap. WAV-C is a partnership between the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance and Washington State Department of Commerce Innovation Cluster Acceleration Program (ICAP). By supporting the growth of the technology industry in Kitsap, KEDA hopes to create new jobs and opportunities for residents while also driving economic growth in the region.
We spoke to Seth Abelson, WAV-C’s Grant Program Manager, on how WAV-C is contributing to the growth of the local economy:
1. How do you see the development of maritime autonomous vehicles through WAV-C contributing to the growth of the local economy and job market in the Kitsap Peninsula and the Pacific Northwest region?
The development and deployment of maritime autonomous solutions through WAV-C can contribute to the growth of the local economy and job market in several ways. For example, the deployment of autonomous vessels in the region can increase efficiency and reduce costs in various industries, such as shipping, fishing, environmental remediation, and national security. This, in turn, can lead to increased productivity, higher revenues, and job creation in related sectors. Additionally, the development and testing of autonomous systems require a diverse range of skills, including engineering, software development, data analysis, and project management. These and other factors are contributors to employment opportunities locally and could be incentives for attracting new talent to the region.
2. Can you speak to how WAV-C plans to attract and retain top talent in the field of autonomous systems, and how this will impact the economic development of the region?
WAV-C's success in attracting and retaining top talent in the field of autonomous systems will depend on several factors. For instance, the ability for our members or other industry partners to offer competitive compensation and benefits packages, to provide opportunities for career growth and professional development, to foster a collaborative and inclusive workplace culture, and to engage with local educational institutions to train and mentor the next generation of system experts cannot be overstated. WAV-C may also need to compete with other regions and industries that are investing in similar technologies and talent pools. However, by leveraging our unique geographical and economic advantages, we (WAV-C) can position ourselves as leaders in maritime autonomous systems and attract talent that is passionate about making a positive impact on the industry. We aim to become the premier destination for all things marine autonomy in the United States.
3. What innovative partnerships or collaborations is WAV-C pursuing to ensure that the economic benefits of maritime autonomous vehicle development are shared equitably across the Kitsap Peninsula and surrounding communities?
To ensure that the economic benefits of maritime autonomous vehicle development are shared equitably across the Kitsap Peninsula and surrounding communities, WAV-C is pursuing innovative partnerships and collaborations with local stakeholders, such as community organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. For example, WAV-C is partnering with local schools and universities to offer training and educational programs that prepare students for careers in autonomous systems. WAV-C is also engaging with local businesses, and its membership, to identify opportunities for collaboration and support the growth of small and minority-owned enterprises in the region. Additionally, as part of our core structure, we are working with government agencies to ensure that regulatory frameworks and policies support the safe and responsible deployment of autonomous systems while also promoting economic development and job creation. Finally, to ensure we have a robust ecosystem, we are enlarging our network to include national partners such as NW Techbridge, The Mission Acceleration, and NSIN to name a few, as well as other international clusters.
Finally, in collaboration with some of our members, we engaged in a project to introduce an autonomous foot ferry between Port Orchard and Bremerton. Another one of our projects seeks to leverage an autonomous vehicle to locate tire dumps sites in our waterways to initiate a comprehensive clean up. We also have an initiative with several partners to launch a testing network for unmanned vehicles that will revolutionize how public and private partnerships can work together efficiently.
Learn more about WAV-C | Washington Autonomous Vehicle Cluster
Kitsap EDA aims to facilitate healthy economic growth and investments that support livable, resilient communities, fueled by innovation and Kitsap's diverse people and businesses. Find out more about how your local business can grow and prosper at kitsapeda.org.