Fish is one of the healthiest foods, high in protein, vitamin D, and if it’s a cold deep water fish, like Pacific Salmon, the same compounds that keep fish blood circulating, Omega 3 fatty acids, can keep our own blood flowing too, lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, increasing world demand has led to 40 percent of the world’s fisheries being overfished resulting in more than $50 billion of global economic losses per year. Worse, the trend poses a profound threat to human food sources.
Many funders are on this case, including some of the biggest U.S. foundations. And more keep joining the battle. Last year, for example, Bloomberg Philanthropies jumped into this field with a $53 million initiative. Saving fisheries is hot, and we've been covering the ins and outs of how funders are trying to tackle this challenge in creative new ways.
One initiative that caught our eye is a unique investor/foundation sponsored business competition called Fish 2.0 that seeks to grow the sustainable seafood business. Several heavy-weight funders have lined behind this effort, including the Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.
Together with investors, they’ve put together a pot of money that will be awarded to the top innovative businesses among 36 finalists after they make their pitch to investors at Stanford University in October. Finalists’ travel expenses will be met as well. At Stanford, participants will be given feedback from investors and technical experts and networking opportunities. Six winners will win $150,000 each. Another six will win $30,000 each. Various other awards will also be given out.
The competition is open to businesses worldwide ranging from startups to established entities that seek to grow. This is the second Fish 2.0 competition. Most of the 21 finalists from the 2013 Fish 2.0 competition showed significant business increases after their participation. How innovative did the winner have to be? The company that came out on top was Blue Sea Labs, a San Francisco based company which is now providing an e-commerce portal to connect consumers directly to 22 small boat fishermen who offer sustainable, wild-harvested seafood.
If you’re interested in applying, keep in mind that the investors have definite areas of the seafood business in which they are participating and that most are looking to augment their existing portfolios. It’s best to look at the Fish 2.0 sponsors and their areas of focus, targeting your pitch to meet their specific needs. Here are two, one a for-profit the other a non-profit with strikingly different agendas: