A year after President Obama announced steps to restore relations with Cuba and end a 50-plus-year diplomatic stalemate, the two countries are forging new ties.

“A year ago, it might have seemed impossible that the United States would once again be raising our flag, the stars and stripes, over an embassy in Havana,” President Obama said in July. “This is what change looks like.”

Science and technology collaboration is propelling the neighbors toward change.

Signed on November 24, the first new agreement calls for the exchange of scientific information and government cooperation to protect marine environments.

“We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing and conserving critical marine resources for future generations,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.

Miles Spencer and three Cuban interns to the U.S. (Public domain)

It’s not just governments building new relations. Grand Central Tech, a community of technology entrepreneurs, introduced four young Cubans to New York startup companies in the summer of 2015 through the Innovadores program.

American technology innovator Miles Spencer helped start Innovadores to promote entrepreneurship in science, technology, engineering and math for promising young people.

“It allows Cuban innovators to get the mentorship and support they need to create solutions in Cuba that make life in Cuba better,” Spencer said.

Frances Colón is the acting science and technology adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry. She told Science magazine that the United States collaborates with Cuba “in a number of areas of mutual interest, many of which are in the science and technology fields: oil spill prevention and response, seismic issues, environmental cooperation, health issues, etc.”

“Science, technology and innovation are essential to finding solutions to the greatest challenges of our time, including climate change, adequate food production, disaster preparedness, cybersecurity and physical security,” Colón said.