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Video Credits: Harken Productions  in conjunction with
Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island


Much More than Postcard-Perfect

It should come as no surprise that the “Ocean State” has a lot riding on the waves that come into our shores, but Rhode Island’s connection to the sea is so much more than amazing beaches and beautiful boats. From the classrooms and labs at the University of Rhode Island to the marine-focused manufacturers that employ the latest technology, Rhode Island’s focus on the water around us drives our businesses and provides an endless laboratory for research and new thinking. 
As a leader in the development of ocean science, the Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) at the University of Rhode Island is home to more than $30 million in annual investment in research across the core disciplines of marine geology and geophysics, biology, atmospheric and ocean chemistry, and physics. And, they are doing big things – their hurricane modeling was the first to fully incorporate both the local effects on the ocean and the dynamics of the atmosphere, leading to greatly improved forecasting. At a time when hurricanes and super storms are costing billions of dollars in damage, this research matters to the millions of people living in coastal areas.
"At URI, our motto is "Think Big" and we live it every day," said David Dooley, PhD, President of the University of Rhode Island. "Our Graduate School of Oceanography is world-renowned and every day our students and graduates are researching and working in businesses and on projects that have global implications. From testing the latest underwater technology to researching shellfish disease and the implications of climate change on our shores, we are investing in our oceans and the opportunities that spring from our research and collaborations are growing every day."

Deepwater Wind

Deepwater Wind is the United States leader in development of renewable offshore wind energy projects and is actively developing projects in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. Headquartered in Providence, Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm remains on track to be the nation's first offshore wind farm, and the developer won the nation's first offshore wind energy lease auction to develop two federal sites off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


"Rhode Island is the perfect place for our headquarters because it's centrally located between Boston and New York, with easy access to all the areas where we're developing projects," said Jeff Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO. "We're proud to call Rhode Island home."
Although next generation companies like Deepwater Wind are so much a part of Rhode Island’s business culture today, her roots in boatbuilding still run deep, albeit with a high-tech twist. Hall Spars, located in historic Bristol, is the worldwide leader in carbon fiber components for the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced sailboats.
“Rhode Island is a natural for us, said company president Eric Hall. “Not only its perfect sailing waters but also its people’s enthusiasm for the sea and for watersports. From a commercial standpoint we have been able to succeed because of not only a wealth of skilled labor but also the high level of technology from our supporting suppliers and local educational institutions.”

“Aquaculture is a growing industry in Rhode Island and Roger Williams is a very eager partner,” said Steve Patterson, the shellfish field manager at Roger Williams University. “We are working hard to restore healthy and plentiful shellfish populations to those who rely on Narragansett Bay and the coastal ponds for their living.

So whether your company is a big fish or just the pearl of a new idea, Rhode Island’s ocean-centric business community has a place for you. And, while we’re more than beautiful beaches and beautiful boats, we’ve got those too.  

Rhode Island Has A Long Running Tradition of Innovating Underwater Defense Technology

Interestingly, the carbon fiber technology used at Hall Spars & Rigging has attracted attention for use in aerospace, commercial, and military applications. They’ve created high-tech hardware and specialty carbon parts for undersea and surface surveillance vessels, for weapons systems of military aircraft, and even for retrieval systems to remove unexploded Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
But Rhode Island’s defense industry is much more than carbon fiber. Defense giant Textron is headquartered in downtown Providence and Raytheon’s Integrated Defense System has a major facility in Portsmouth. General Dynamics, Electric Boat has a facility at Quonset Point where major submarine components are manufactured for the U.S. Navy. The hub of defense interests on Aquidneck Island that includes the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Naval War College provides opportunities for smaller defense contractors to work closely with their customers as well as the larger contractors with whom they collaborate.

Molly Donohue Magee, Executive Director of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) puts it best, “Rhode Island is a sweet spot for defense and related technology companies with its highly skilled technical workforce that meets customers’ needs for innovative solutions and services and a scale that allows for real-time coordination between researchers and industry in close proximity to key customers.”

And of course, Rhode Island’s waters are also stocked with the finest seafood in the world, providing restaurants around the world with high-quality sustainably fished products.  While nationally-known suppliers like Blount Seafood have thrived in Rhode Island for generations, small and mid-sized aquaculture business are springing up along our shorelines to meet the growing demand for both restaurants and suppliers.


• GSO research is conducted around the globe

• GSO faculty, marine research scientists, and professional staff collectively generate more than $30 million each year in external funding, which accounts for nearly 1/3 of the University's total. 
• URI GSO Researchers conduct more than 200 projects, with a combined budget of approximately $30 million in federal, state, and private funds.