GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 8, 2013

Diverse interests tap into marine summit

GLOUCESTER — Research and innovation groups, business people and scientists, fishermen and government leaders gathered at Cruiseport Gloucester for the city’s second Maritime Summit Thursday, with each group pitching an idea and service and hoping to reel in some customers.

The second gathering, 15 months after the first summit, drew 130 people to hear presentations about the environment and the future of maritime economy, view exhibits of top-of the line robotics and new age technology, listen to panels of professionals speak about diversified fisheries and aquaculture, and network of course.

“Good content brings good people,” said Rich Weissman, who was at the summit representing Endicott College. Weissman said he came on behalf of the school to help increase its visibility in the city where it recently started up a satellite campus.

A few exhibit tables over Chris Casagrande, a co-founder of Sea Sciences, Inc., stood by his company’s latest model — an apparatus that, when towed behind boats, allows users to navigate along the ocean floor or closer to the surface, collecting samples, shooting videos or testing the water in a given area.

The founders, whose machinery was used to examine the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, came to the summit Thursday in search of some new customers.

“There’s always that hope,” Casagrande said. “The ones we pick normally are the ones our customers go to.”

While Casagrande said his group had not gotten any major bites at the summit, he did receive some offers of interest. Gloucester boat captains, for example, had offered deals for the company to borrow their vessels for testing. And, Casagrande spoke with a contractor who would make a good back up to their go-to company.

Another exhibit boasted robotic machines too, but with a much different purpose. The exhibit, hosted by Ocean Alliance and Olin College out of Needham, featured a table of robots, including one called the “snotbot” that, when perfected, will be used to collect snot samples from whales as the creatures surface and blow into the air.

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