We recently attended the BlueFIN conference held by the World Ocean Council in Barcelona. This is what we learnt.
The focus of discussion at BlueFIN was on the $3 trillion Blue Economy and how we can further direct capital into the space. Various investors were present, including ocean funds, family offices, philanthropic investors, institutional finance, and government funding agencies.
Oceans cover 71% of our planet and are a critical life-support system for life on earth, providing at least 50% of our oxygen, climate stability, food for 3 billion people and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. But the oceans face threats at an unprecedented scale. They are at risk from rising temperatures, dead zones, reef depletion, plastic pollution, overfishing – and the next ten years are crucial to their survival.
So who’s investing right now in companies that can generate positive impact for the ocean?
Ocean 14 Capital
Ocean 14 Capital is an impact investment firm that invests in growth companies and technologies in the Blue Economy that offer both environmental gains for our oceans and competitive financial gains for our investors.
The founder, Chris Gorell Barnes, has over 10 years of ocean conservation experience as the co-founder of Blue Marine Foundation. Ocean 14 Capital Fund 1 is focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14): Life Below Water. The investment focus is on food security and marine/coastal ecosystems – both vital to addressing ocean health and climate change goals.
The €150 million impact fund is on track to invest in 8 companies this year, and to grow its portfolio to between 20 and 25 businesses within three years. Backers of the fund include the European Investment Fund (EIF), Constitutional Reserve Fund of Monaco, Chr. Augustinus Fabrikker, Builders Vision, Minderoo Foundation, British businessman Alex Beard and Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström.
This Lisbon-based VC firm has established itself as Southern Europe’s first VC fund specializing in deep tech for ocean sustainability and climate action. The €32 million fund is backed by impact-driven institutional investors, including the EIF and Portugal Blue, Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, Builders Initiative, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Champalimaud Foundation. Successful entrepreneurs are also backing the fund, including Peter Rive (co-founder SolarCity, now part of Tesla) and Pedro Bizarro (co-founder of Feedzai).
Faber focuses on early-stage (pre-seed and seed) investments, and they have dedicated investment teams and expert advisors, who actively work with entrepreneurs to build global companies.
The fund, called Faber Blue Pioneers I, is led by Rita Sousa, Carlos Esteban and Bruno Ferreira. It plans to invest in a portfolio of 20 to 25 early-stage companies developing innovative deep-tech solutions with global ambition. Areas such as blue biotechnology, food and feed, ocean health, ocean intelligence, or the decarbonization of multiple industries are key priorities.
Founded by Shally Shanker, AiiM Partners provides equity investments to technology companies addressing climate change. Their focus is at the intersections of oceans/water, land/agriculture and air/energy, helping to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13): Climate Action.
Headquartered in the US & Canada, AiiM targets early growth companies which it considers to be a US$ 17 trillion market opportunity across digital systems, alternative materials, low-carbon food and smart agriculture. They are looking for companies that will be the next market leaders - those developing the best in class technologies with a clear path to scale and profitability.
AiiM leads or co-leads the majority of its investments, and the team helps scale the growth of companies by providing hands-on technical, operational and strategic support. The fund is on track to offset 1 gigaton of GHG annually, whilst also ensuring that 50% of the companies that they invest in are led by women or people of colour.
Based in Norway, Katapult Ocean invests in startups that build profitable businesses with a positive impact on the ocean. The fund aims to catalyse capital, talent, companies and startups to accelerate the blue shift in the ocean industries. Their focus is on achieving SDG 14: Life Below Water.
Impact is integrated at the core of their investment strategy. They invest in traditional, transitional and deep impact cases, with Transportation, Energy and Harvesting as the main industrial sectors, supported by cases in Ocean Health and New frontiers.
Katapult Ocean has already made 32 investments in ocean impact companies from all over the world. They invest in early-stage startups that have already proven their product-market fit, have some form of validation and have intentions to scale out of their own country of origin.
Propeller is a new $100 million climate-tech fund, with a focus on the ocean. Co-founded by former HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, the venture firm will back and incubate startups in areas like ocean carbon removal, algae packaging, offshore wind, desalination and shipping decarbonization.
Propeller will also work with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts - a nonprofit research and advocacy group backed by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and MIT. The goal of the WHOI partnership is to ensure that the most promising, scientifically-sound oceanic solutions receive the mission-critical capital, tools and resources needed.
“Our ocean holds tremendous potential for scaling up climate and carbon solutions, yet only a fraction of the venture capital dollars that have flooded into climate tech flow to the seascape of ocean-based solutions,” - Brian Halligan.