bellingham, wa


As long as you live in one of the eligible cities, you can apply to any other city that is participating in the competition!


Deadline to apply is July 31st!

Bellingham is Empowering Community Innovations in Ocean Health

NWIRC and the City of Bellingham are focused on the theme Ocean Health. 

Bellingham has long had a focus on climate issues and it remains one of the top priorities.   as we set the plans for the coming years. Much of our economy depends upon the health of the ocean – maritime industry, fishing industry, tourism and outdoor recreation. The role of the oceans in global climate change cannot be understated.

Ocean Health theme is broad and can include (but definitely not limited to):

  • Maritime
  • Boating
  • Fishing (private or commercial)
  • Tourism
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Biofuels
  • Medicines
  • Blue economy industries (aquaculture, fish, minerals, oil and gas)
  • Tidal/wave energy
  • Other offshore energy
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Aquaculture
  • Ports and Harbors
  • Pollution of air and water
  • Technology advances (Artifical Intelligence, Augmented/Virtual Reality, etc) to help any of these

This competition is open to any resident who lives in one of the 8 participating cities (see cities and links below).

  • You can apply to any of the themes(not just your city, you apply to the city whose theme fits your idea). Check eligibility by zip code here.
  • You can apply more than once.
  • You can apply to more than one theme.
  • You can form a teamof up to 3 people.
  • You don’t need to have any business experience, just an ideafor how to solve the challenge.
  • You can submit ideas forproducts or services.
  • The ideas are still yours to pursue after the competition.
  • You can get helpfrom the NWIRC to answer questions.

*Be sure to review all the rules before applying. Once you submit an idea you cannot revoke it, but you can update submissions.

Tips for coming up with ideas to submit for the challenge:

  • Great ideas start with you – As the individuals who work every day in the industries that could use innovation, you’ve got great ideas to solve these challenges. You may not think the ideas are good enough or the right fit – but you never know until you try.
  • Think small to think big– Small ideas can have big impact, by solving one problem in a bigger process efficiency can be dramatically improved, creating a big impact.
  • Focus on one problem at a time– Identify a problem within any industry that benefits from the theme concept and look to solve that problem only. If you have multiple ideas to solve the idea, submit multiple ideas.
  • Dream big – think about the bigger impact on how the industry can be defined or disrupted in the long run, not necessarily that one single idea needs to be big and bold.
  • Quantity over Quality – it may seem a bit counter intuitive, but when you are in the idea stage, you want to have lots of ideas to work from instead of a few. Brainstorm, then you can narrow it down.