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Stardust Startups, a Morehead City-based nonprofit with worldwide reach, is now targeting its geographic approach to support the emerging blue economy along the North Carolina coastal plain. Since its founding in 2015, Stardust Startups has provided financial support (recoverable micro-grants) for impact entrepreneurs and startups all over the world.

To date, thanks to generous donations from individuals and private foundations, twenty-seven qualifying climate action solution projects, providing for positive social and environmental sustainability, have been funded in France, Madagascar, Canada, Armenia, Ivory Coast, and the United States (including here in Carteret County to Tami Thomas and the MirlAM).

This support also included a nurturing entrepreneurial network to early-stage (pre-seed) impact entrepreneurs. Dr. Laura Jean (Lj) Palmer-Moloney is a co-founder of Stardust Startups and holds a PhD in Coastal Resources Management. As director of Stardust Startups NC, she understands how the evolving environment (sea level rise, more intense storms, heat, habitat loss) and the emerging Blue Economy pose unique challenges and opportunities for the North Carolina’s coastal plain businesses. Dr. Palmer-Moloney is also a resident of Carteret County, NC.

“The Stardust Startups NC Board of Directors and I are delighted to introduce Stardust Startups NC and discuss our dedication to help emerging entrepreneurs with their environmental sustainability goals,”

Dr. Palmer-Moloney noted.

Fran Pigott Harding, a local Carteret County native and a board team member, explained,

“When ideas bubble up, an innovator needs the opportunity to create a design and test it in a nurturing, non-threatening, confidence-building way. Test, learn, adjust, and test again-that’s science! And the pre-seed, early work of entrepreneurs is the hardest phase to get funded. This is the role of Stardust.”

Dr. Palmer-Moloney added:

“And it is important that we understand that supporting a strong and sustainable marine economy (a.k.a. “blue economy”) is an essential part of building a climate-ready nation and help local communities, economies, and ecosystems to thrive.”

Nicole LeBoeuf, Director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, states it clearly:

“The marine economy of the US is crucial to the creation of new businesses, the dissemination of the new technologies, and the expansion of existing ones.”

Dr. Palmer-Moloney continues to explain the role of Stardust Startups NC,

“We’re looking for businesses that include climate-ready insight in their business plans that drive successful Blue Economy endeavors and build transformative community responses.”

“This is an important point we want to share,” she said. “Stardust Startups NC is here to nurture and grow early-stage (pre-seed) startups that will bolster the Blue Economy along NC’s coast.

And today’s emerging entrepreneurs with climate compatible and future focused businesses can become the business leaders of tomorrow who will confront multiple, interacting climate-related challenges.

The need for investments and policies that enhance the health and sustainability of the Blue Economy is evident when looking at the statistics. Ocean-based, Blue Economy businesses are not limited to activities in the open water,” explained Dr. Palmer-Moloney.

“They include endeavors in ocean energy, marine biotechnology, aquaculture/mariculture, marine products and services, supply chain and logistics, coastal tourism (various aspects), coastal resources management, fishing (commercial, recreational, and sport), habitat protection, and biodiversity.”

By investing in environmentally sustainable practices and working collaboratively with stakeholders, Dr. Palmer-Moloney believes that Stardust Startups NC will contribute to building a thriving and transformative Blue Economy that supports coastal Carolina communities, protects the environment, and drives our state and the country’s economy forward.

We are pleased to recognize the first Stardust Startups NC microgrant awardee for Spring 2023 is Coastal Technologies Corporation (CTC). Its “oyster stack” innovation is in its beta-testing phase, which is the earliest phase of product research. CTC, collaborating with Carteret County locals, such as Down East Mariculture Supply, Carteret Community College’s Mariculture Program, and NC Coastal Federation, will use results from this research to make smart business decisions about the oyster stack’s usefulness in mariculture (oyster growing and harvesting) and living shoreline restoration.

Also in Stardust news & notes

Climate Action

Unpacking Uncertainty: What It Means to Work and Innovate Within Today’s Life, Business & Climate Unknowns

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Crystal Coast & the Blue Economy Business Forum

March 15th at the train depot in Morehead City, NC. See you there!
$500 Coastal Idea Challenge (Spring 2024 Edition)

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