Orsted to host first event since opening Providence innovation hub in 2020

ORSTED U.S. Offshore Wind is hosting its first event out of its Providence innovation hub on Thursday, more than two years after it opened in the CIC Providence space. /COURTESY ORSTED U.S. OFFSHORE WIND

PROVIDENCE – More than two years after Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind named Providence as its national innovation hub, the offshore wind giant is putting actions to its words.

The Innovation in Offshore Wind startup showcase on Thursday is the first event hosted by Orsted since opening its innovation hub in the Cambridge Innovation Center coworking space in March 2020. The hybrid in-person and virtual event features nine startups -two of which are based in Rhode Island – making their pitch on pilot projects that need support from industry leaders. Unlike other pitch events, this is not a competition with a winner, nor is the goal to secure funding.

Instead, it’s about fostering the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration that can take projects from the idea stage to implementation, said Neil Hamel, head of U.S. innovation and the venture hub at Orsted Offshore North America.

While the pandemic put the kibosh on these kinds of events for the last two years, Orsted has still been working behind the scenes on solidifying the partnerships that can grow its ambitious innovation plans. Among them is the matchup with Boston-based “blue-tech” platform and incubator host SeaAhead, which is cohosting the Thursday event.

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Orsted has also made internal changes to its company structure, joining its research and development and innovation branches into one central department, or hub, based out of its 1,000-square-foot CIC Providence office. Hamel heads the hub, working with one other person, though they are hiring for a third.

“We’ve really built internal momentum around open innovation,” Hamel said.

Rhode Island offers the perfect landing point for that momentum to take hold, given its rich array of shipping, marine and other blue economy-related industries, Hamel said. The CIC coworking space itself houses 18 wind-related companies, including Orsted, according to Hamel.

Industry here is collaborating more than ever before,” he said. “It’s a perfect spot to bring people together in our own backyard.”

How many of these companies, several of which abandoned their CIC offices in favor of remote work during the pandemic, have returned to their downtown working space is unclear. CIC Providence did not return inquiries for comment.

The event offers in-person and virtual viewing options and is free to attend. More information including registration is available online.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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