The wealth of the modern world comes from specialization and trade. Rather than trying to be self-sufficient, seasteads will specialize – trading sushi for steak.

One of our research priorities is identifying the best onboard businesses to provide jobs for seastead residents, as well as the best ocean-based exports to trade for the numerous specialized imports seasteads will need from land. This requires us to investigate viable business models that take advantage of seasteads’ numerous unique features.

For example, millions of people worldwide travel to other countries each year to save money on medical procedures. Seasteading can make such “medical tourism” more convenient by stationing medical facilities much closer to home.

Our research aims to help answer the questions:

  • Where are the best locations for different kinds of businesses?
  • Who can provide financing?
  • Who are domain experts (marine engineers, financiers, attorneys, etc.) who can provide specialized advice?
  • What are the legal pitfalls?
  • How can businesses reach their customers?

Key Research

Flagging Options for Seasteading Projects

Sean Hickman

International and maritime law requires all ships to fly the flag of an existing nation. Most countries place strict regulations on individuals or companies that wish to fly their flag, but there are a number of countries that operate so-called open registries, offering ship owners from around the world the option to register their vessels under what are known as “flags of convenience” (FOCs). Flying the flag of an open registry country seems to be the best option for early seasteading ventures, because it offers the highest possible degree of autonomy and independence without placing seasteads outside of the law. This paper considers the merits of various open registry countries in terms of reputation, regulations, costs and requirements with the purposes of early seasteading ventures in mind, and offers case studies of the costs and benefits of six promising open registry countries.

View Research
Seasteading Location Study: Ship-Based and Large-Scale City Scenarios

Shanee Stopnitzky, James Hogan, George Petrie, Elie Amar, Dario Mutabdzija, Max Marty and Rafa Gutierrez

To determine the most promising locations for seastead communities, The Seasteading Institute has evaluated the entire ocean, based on a comprehensive set of criteria related to environmental, economic, legal and political considerations. Data sets for each criterion are presented in the form of color-coded heat maps depicting the desirability of possible locations for two different seastead scenarios: a small, ship-based seastead, and a large “Metropolistead,” or full-fledged city on the ocean. High resolution maps of the individual criteria, as well as aggregated maps, can be viewed here.

View Research
Business Research Overview Report

This paper, “Seasteading Business: Context, Opportunity and Challenge” is an analysis of the seasteading business environment. Authors Max Marty and Max Borders explore the potential landscape of for-profit activity aboard seasteads. We cover a broad range of economic and business-related topics from clear-cut, early-stage revenue models to speculations about what forms seasteading businesses may take in the medium term.

View Research
Sink or Swim Business Plan Contest

To encourage the development of practical seasteading related businesses, The Seasteading Institute launched the Sink or Swim business model contest.

The contest is now complete, and the winners have been selected. The winning entries received prizes totaling $10,000. Entries were judged based on a variety of factors, including profitability, risk, pollution, and how well the plan leverages a seastead’s comparative advantage. Entrants assumed their businesses would exist as one of many businesses aboard a platform 25 miles off the coast of a large first-world city, such as Miami or Shanghai.

View the winning entries!
Useful Links for Seasteading Businesses

We have compiled a list of links to resources within the existing maritime industry that will be helpful for nearly any early seasteading venture. Categories include ship brokers, finance, management, legal services, retrofitting, information portals, and more. These subjects are critical to the success of an ocean-based business. Fortunately, there are already competitive enterprises in all of these areas eager to serve seasteaders. This list will help free entrepreneurs to focus on the unique components of their business plans, rather than reinvent the wheel.

View the list of links

Recruiting Volunteers

We are seeking highly motivated volunteer researchers in all fields relating to seasteading. If you are an inspiring seasteading entrepreneur, or have relevant business experience, and are looking for a topic, our past research is a good source for inspiration. You can always email our staff at with any questions.

Qualified applicants should apply with a brief proposal, along with a resume or description of any relevant background or experience. Student independent study and internship projects are encouraged and can be accommodated. See our Students page for more information.

The main research page has more information on our overarching objectives, as well as alternative project formats to research. Examples of future business research topics include:

  • How will seasteads manage their supply chains?
  • What are the costs of various data transmission alternatives at various distances from shore?
  • What flag registries are best-suited for various business models?