The UNDP’s Ocean Innovation Challenge provides these selected companies with financial, mentoring and incubator support, acknowledging their efforts in marine spatial planning (MSP), marine protected areas (MPAs) and new environmentally and socially sustainable economic activities.

UNDP has committed to selecting 100 Ocean Innovations by 2030 and this third group will receive up to US$250,000 in financial support for two years.

Among these is Mersea Marine Consulting, a Turkish company which is creating “eco-leather” from invasive silver-cheeked toadfish, also known as pufferfish, sourced in the Eastern Mediterranean seas.

The pufferfish will be collected from local fishing communities, and then carefully processed for production of leather products with the aim of substituting for other exotic leathers.

The other companies in the third “cohort” of Ocean Innovators are: DHI, which is mapping and monitoring ecosystems with Copernicus Sentinel- 2 Imagery in Malaysia, addressing an information gap; the University of Rhode Island, which is “ensuring community roles in complex multiple use areas in Madagascar”, developing a Marine Spatial Planning framework; and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, for its SEA Success project in Bangladesh and Thailand.

After these three cohorts of Ocean Innovators, UNDP is opening the Accelerated Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal Least Developing Countries’ (LDCs) Blue Economy Edition Call for Proposals in late June 2023. Qualifying organisations will be able to apply to become an Ocean Innovator and access support through the program.