During a vacation in Italy, former Chase Manhattan marketing director William Doyle was intrigued by the small, peculiar-looking boats he saw being used for harbor cleanup. There was nothing like them in the United States. So in November 1990 Doyle quit his post to launch Ecomarine USA. He and partner Maxwell Rabb, former U.S. ambassador to Italy, invested $5 million to create a company that would operate and charter vessels similar to those he had seen in Europe. Designed in collaboration with the Coast Guard, the boats are 45 feet or 65 feet in length and cost from $600,000 to $2 million to build. They are equipped with a combination of proprietary hardware and software that can monitor water pollution, pick up marine debris, and clean up oil and other chemical spills. Doyle calls them "street sweepers of the waterways." The company's strategy is to form partnerships with regional companies and municipalities, and lease its vessels and trained crews at rates starting at $1,000 a day. The company is headquartered in New York City but plans to relocate to Miami to operate its first joint venture, Ecomarine Florida, with Florida Clean Harbors. Ecomarine USA is also negotiating contracts with harbor authorities in Boston, New York City, and Houston.

-- Alessandra Bianchi