The Maritime Alliance Helps U.S. BlueTech Companies Increase Exports to Europe

By Greg Murphy, Executive Director, The Maritime Alliance

Overview of Trade Mission Part 1: Southampton (April 3-7)

The Maritime Alliance (TMA) recently returned from a successful 2-week U.S. BlueTech Trade Mission to Europe where 11 small-medium sized companies from 5 states participated in part or in whole in a 4-city tour that included a trade show, B2B matchmaking, presentations and multiple networking opportunities and cluster-cluster collaboration, which is anticipated to generate $2million+ in total new exports.  Metrics will be collected over the next 12 months and reported to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

With funding and organizational support from the International Trade Administration made possible through the Market Development Cooperator Program, The U.S. Maritime Technology Export Initiative (USMTEI) supported 7 U.S. companies co-exhibiting in the U.S. BlueTech Pavilion at the Ocean Business trade show in Southampton, UK on April 4-6.

Mark Gundersen, President & CEO of Marine Advanced Research that makes the WAM-V in northern California, developed new distribution and sales leads, and finalized terms for a lease agreement.  He said, “TMA and ITA exceeded my expectations with the USMTEI. We had a packed schedule before, at, and after Ocean Business meeting with companies and organizations in our industry. You would be hard pressed to find another way to open as many doors in such a short amount of time.

We also organized behind-the-scenes tours of the University of Southampton, Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI), National Oceanography Centre, Sonardyne and QinetiQ, made possible through the assistance of key cluster partners and TMA ambassadors in the UK.   

We were thrilled to see the collaboration and cohesion of the 7 companies that developed over the course of the mission.  It was common to see one member handing off a potential sales lead to another member, or for two companies to talk about how they might work together back in the United States.  It was this spirit of collaboration that enables the Blue Economy to grow and our goal is to foster similar collaboration during future trade missions.

Durval Tavares, CEO of Aquabotix, which recently closed an over-subscribed initial public offering, said, “The team worked seamlessly as one entity focused on helping business get results.”

Overview of Trade Mission Part 2: Copenhagen, Hamburg and Rotterdam (April 10-14)

The focus on driving results continued the following week where a total of 6 U.S. companies (three from the week before, plus three additional) participated in a whirlwind 4-day tour of Copenhagen (Denmark), Hamburg (Germany) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands) for B2B matchmaking, presentations and networking with potential partners.  In total, there were more than 75 meetings among 80+ participants from companies, clusters, partners and US Commercial Service officers. 

Joe Turner, founder and business development executive for Exocetus Autonomous Systems, said, “The USMTEI Trade Mission provided exposure to a range of companies and individuals that I would have never found on my own. Additionally, the introduction to the Department of Commerce personnel in these countries opened up a set of resources that I expect to be invaluable as we move forward.

In addition to the daily programs, we visited the PortXL, which is the world’s first port accelerator in Rotterdam, operated as an independent organization with multiple partners including the Port of Rotterdam, terminal operators, investors and others.  We toured RDM Rotterdam, which is a rejuvenated dock that was abandoned years ago that now includes a technical institute, incubator and makerspace, and testing facilities for ocean and water technologies, where we found two separate companies using ROV thrusters sold by Blue Robotics, one of our members. 

The mission also visited facilities at the Port of Rotterdam, and we made an impromptu visit to Amsterdam, made possible by Hydronalix CEO Tony Mulligan, who had organized a live demonstration of the EMILY robotic lifeguard with fire, search and rescue officials.

The trade mission was only recently completed, but already, our members are seeing positive results.  We look forward to continuing to work with these companies to grow their international partnerships, and will collect metrics over the next four quarters to report to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Maritime Alliance will soon begin accepting applications for companies that wish to join the U.S. Maritime Technology Export Initiative in London for Oceanology International, 13-15 March 2018, and a follow-on trade mission to other regions of Europe.  To be notified when applications become available, please complete this online form.  Applications will be available by late May and due mid-July.

Additional photos from the trade mission are available online at