A dojo - or "Place of The Way" in Japanese - is a space created for immersive learning. Originally houses of martial arts, dojos are now viewed as hubs where innovators from various fields gather.

Local entrepreneurs can gather (virtually for now because of COVID-19) at their own "Place of The Way" through a Business Opportunity Dojo sponsored by ODU's OpenSeas Technology Innovation Hub.

The Dojo is the latest endeavor by the OpenSeas Technology Innovation hub to grow local and regional innovation and entrepreneurship connected to vitally important maritime industries in Virginia.

"Hampton Roads is the ideal location to create synergies with our maritime interests," said Jerry Cronin, executive director of ODU's Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE), which oversees OpenSeas.

"We have the world's largest naval base and preeminent U.S. shipbuilding location, along with the Port of Virginia and an emerging offshore wind industry. The Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean and the challenges of a changing coastal environment add up to a great place for bright minds to apply their best thinking."

The OpenSeas Dojo is designed to build skills and competencies which can turn ideas into solutions with market value, developing high-growth, scalable businesses and organizations to add value to the maritime economy, locally and worldwide.

It utilizes lean start-up principles which comprise the successful TempO program of the IIE, providing participants with access to sessions on topics such as developing value propositions, customer discovery and developing business models.

At a session in March in the Institute's Downtown Norfolk offices, a half-dozen entrepreneurs with interest in maritime-connected industries talked through the challenges of creating a business plan to attract investors and position new industries to carve their market niche.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused waves of disruption to worldwide economies, but the OpenSeas Dojo sessions have continued virtually via weekly videoconferences. This includes open sessions for the Dojo community to network, share their experiences and identify challenges and successes. Members work at their own pace, with the support of OpenSeas staff and the Dojo community.

Membership in the Dojo is based on application and acceptance into the program. To be considered, participants must have a concept or opportunity to work on. Since the sessions will be conducted both physically (when safe to do so) and virtually, membership will be open to opportunities from around the world. But preference will be given to individuals and companies based, or looking to operate, in Hampton Roads.

For more information or to apply, contact Jerry Cronin at jcronin@odu.edu, or see the Business Opportunity Dojo WEBSITE.

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