Alternative Energy

Consortium to advance knowledge of oceans and climate change

22nd April 2021
Lanna Deamer

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Analog Devices have launched the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator (OCIA) consortium. ADI has committed $3m over three years towards the consortium which will focus on advancing knowledge of the ocean’s critical role in combating climate change as well as developing new solutions at the intersection of oceans and climate.

“Carbon emissions feature as a centrepiece in global efforts to mitigate climate change. Oceans are among our most important defence mechanisms against a warming planet - yet their ability to continue to play this critically important role is being threatened by the effects of climate change,” said Vincent Roche, CEO of Analog Devices.

“Through the Ocean and Climate Innovation Accelerator, we are committed to engaging ADI’s engineers and technologies to advance knowledge of the oceans, in order to gain a better understanding of how oceans are impacted by climate change and to develop solutions to restore ocean health. By doing so, we hope to drive meaningful impact on the global fight against climate change.” 

The OCIA consortium is designed to be a highly scalable collaboration leveraging the unique resources and capabilities of its partner organisations. Among its goals, the consortium will focus on the development of the 'networked ocean' - placing sensors across oceanographic environments that will continuously monitor critical metrics related to ocean conditions with the aim of informing business and policy decision makers, enabling evidence-based stewardship of ocean health and driving more accurate climate and weather predictions with real time data.

“On behalf of WHOI’s entire community of ocean scientists and engineers, we are incredibly excited about this collaboration,” said Dr. Peter de Menocal, President, and Director of WHOI. “The formation of the OCIA consortium comes at a time when support for science and ocean research is at a critical juncture. We are building a research innovation ecosystem that will drive new understanding to tackle global challenges facing society. It provides a new, scalable model showing how corporations can engage deeply on the climate crisis.”  

The consortium will be jointly led by WHOI and ADI. Designed to act as an engine for continuous innovation and powered by some of the world’s leading minds and businesses, the OCIA consortium is open to participation by a wide range of organisations across business, academia and non-profits that recognise the inextricable links between ocean and climate and wish to have a positive impact on the global climate crisis.

The OCIA consortium will also establish a robust, multi-stage innovation ecosystem, building on WHOI’s existing strengths in education and research to drive solutions-thinking and allow scientists and engineers to focus on high-impact problems. This will include the launch of a new Climate Challenge Grant Program which will award seed-funding for smaller, competitively selected projects.

Initially, the OCIA will provide two types of awards:

  • Incubation Awards: comprised of seed-funding awarded to dynamic individuals and teams. Incubation Awards will support design, exploration, and early execution of new, scientific initiatives that foster new avenues of research and engineering and encourage and incentivise collaborative engagement.
  • Acceleration Awards: awarded to successful recipients of prior support for novel ideas and technologies, as well as other more mature projects, for the purpose of expanding these programmes, increasing public engagement, and positioning and preparing projects to achieve lasting impact and receive durable outside support.

As the consortium grows over time, OCIA programmes may expand to invest in people through the establishment of fellowships and other awards, along with a portfolio of other activities such as support for collaboration hubs to drive innovations in data processing, machine learning, and transdisciplinary science and engineering.

“Now more than ever, it is essential for people to understand that the ocean and climate are not two separate systems, but rather part of a single system that spans our entire ocean planet and affects the lives of people everywhere, even if they live far from the coast,” said de Menocal. 

“Recognising this, it is critical for organisations like ADI and WHOI to find common cause and work in shared-mission partnerships to help mitigate the rapidly advancing threats brought on by a warming planet.”

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