Business strength, global scope and potential for system-changing impact distinguish Fish 2.0 2017 business competition finalists
CARMEL, CA, September 18, 2017 — Fish 2.0 today announced 40 companies that will pitch to investors Nov. 7–8 during the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University, the culminating event in the Fish 2.0 2017 competition for sustainable seafood businesses.
This exceptionally strong group of finalists—winnowed from an initial pool of 184 entrants—stands out for its market traction, global character and high potential for impact on the seafood sector. About 50 percent of the finalists are post-revenue businesses, and more than half are based outside the U.S.
The seafood business has the potential to improve global food security, ocean sustainability, and the lives of locals, a forum has been told.
Founder of the Fish 2.0 project Monica Jain told the Pacific tuna forum in Port Moresby that to transform the seafood industry, these businesses, however, needed capital investments to grow and take advantage of new markets.
She said the three important keys to moving financing forward in the sustainable seafood field was to have investment-ready ventures, investment-ready investor and resources and support systems for both.
“If we do not have good ventures, there is nothing to lure good investors to go into the Pacific Islands countries to invest.”
Investment competition founder talks innovation, competition and the financing aquaculture seeks for the future
If you sell, you’ve probably practiced your elevator pitch, that condensed, to-the-point message that sums up the most essential information about you, your business or the product or service you offer.
Perhaps you’ve polished this pitch in front of family or friends – or only a mirror – but delivering a succinct speech on stage, before hundreds of fellow professionals, with your career potentially on the line, is another matter entirely.
That’s essentially the situation for finalists at Fish 2.0, the biannual investment contest. Emerging seafood companies around the world come to Stanford University hoping to hook into a source of capital to grow their businesses by impressing a panel of expert judges. The competition’s founder, Monica Jain, has a long history of working in venture capital, banking and other aspects of finance, and has worked on financial plans for marine protected areas.
Over the past five years, as I’ve built the Fish 2.0 business competition, I’ve seen an overwhelming number of creative ideas bubbling up—with highly qualified entrepreneurial teams behind them. Their innovations, combined with powerful social and environmental forces, are creating a new world both above and below the ocean’s surface.
I believe that by 2027, we won’t be gorging ourselves on shrimp. Or tuna. Or salmon. Not because they’ve disappeared from the oceans or we’re appalled by how they’re produced, but because we’re eating so many other delicious fish from land and sea — like porgy, dogfish, lionfish, barramundi, and others we’ve yet to meet.
Nick Mendoza, the founder and CEO of NeptuneForOne, is working to convince whitefish processors in the US that there is a better return to be had for their offcuts than those gained from having them turned into animal feed, fertilizer or garbage. He wants instead to make them into jerky, a product that can be sold as a healthy snack, high in omega-3.
Mendoza's San Diego, California-based firm is one of 80 companies -- half the original field -- still vying for cash and other prizes in Fish 2.0, the every-other-year contest for innovations to improve the sustainability of seafood. It’s one of eight that would do so by reducing fish waste. All are hoping to identify potential business partners and investors.
Though the excesses of agricultural production and the food left on consumers’ plates are what most people think about when it comes to food waste, there is a lot of waste in seafood, Monica Jain, Fish 2.0’s San Francisco, California-based founder, told Undercurrent News in a recent interview.
After gaining “superfood” status, the market for algae could reach up to $44.7 billion by 2023, according to a new report from Fish 2.0, a business competition designed to increase investment in sustainable seafood startups.
This year, the competition has seen a marked increase in the number of algae-focused startups applying to take part, with more than 10 of the 80 startups making it through to phase three (of four) of the competition working directly with algae.
The new free report explains that algae could transform industries if propagation and distribution are able to mature. The report argues that market demand is already in place and coming from many different industries.
Algae convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fats and proteins that can be used in oils both for eating and fuel, as well as protein consumable by both humans and animals, and it also contains prized micro-nutrients.
Nevele, Belgium-based Tomalgae is on the cusp of launching a new algae product for oyster growers in Asia.
Called Thalapure Mollusca, the freeze dried algae formulation may be just the beginning of the algae company’s foray into the international oyster industry.
Tomalgae CEO William van der Riet declined to name the specific country of the launch, but he said the September plan—in time for the October growing season—is firm.
“We have a partner in Asia,” Riet told Undercurrent News.
He said the product can replace live algae production at hatcheries -- a work-intensive process that represents the majority of operational costs for oyster hatcheries. Hatcheries produce the larvae oyster growers need to begin the growout process.
'Green' approaches may be the best way to protect coastal communities from flooding associated with climate change.
To some people, climate change seems like a problem only for future generations. But for residents of many coastal cities, the future is already here — in the form of rising sea levels and frequent, destructive floods. And the problem is only going to get worse. The latest research suggests that by 2100, up to 60 percent of oceanfront communities on the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. may experience chronic flooding from climate change.
The fix for inundation might seem pretty simple: just erect tall seawalls and other barriers to keep the ocean at bay. But barriers can fail. Even when they don’t, they can have the unintended consequence of harming delicate coastal habitats and the animals that live in them.
They’re throwing their money into the ocean, for good reason. Here’s where it’s washing up.
Four seafood companies landed sizeable investments in the past few months. New funds are being formed. More than 100 investors are volunteering their time to help businesses in the Fish 2.0 competition leap forward. A movie star just took a seat on the board of a seafood startup.
It all makes sense. Investing in seafood is a bet on continued rising demand for a healthy, sustainable protein that a rapidly growing world population wants to eat.
And now a new generation of seafood entrepreneurs is breaking open the industry.
Well-connected industry insiders have long seen the strength in seafood (and invested accordingly), but doors have been closed to the broader investment community. Traditional businesses in the sector are family or privately owned, and public information about deals and business fundamentals has been scant. But today’s seafood innovators are seeking capital from a range of investors, and they offer ample exit options. Many will get snapped up by larger public or private food companies, and some have the potential go public themselves.
A few years into Kentucky, US-based Alltech’s expansion into aquaculture feed company ownership, the producer of algae and other nutritional technologies for animal feeds is continuing to find ways to increase its direct access to aquaculture companies.
Through its acquisition of Dutch aquatic feed supplier Coppens International a year ago, Alltech gained direct ownership—for the first time—in a feed company. This added Coppens' 60 feed production operations around the world to Alltech's slate of assets, a major benefit for a company aiming to popularize the use of algae by feed companies.
80 ventures move into Phase 3
Fish 2.0 just welcomed our largest-ever Phase 3 pool of seafood innovators: 80 ventures (out of 110 that completed Phase 2) are moving forward in the business competition to work on their impacts, risks, and investment opportunities.
This is an exceptionally strong group—we were thrilled to see investors’ positive comments about so many of these ventures across all eight tracks. We’re glad to have 40 spots available at this year’s finals, which means Phase 3 competitors have a 50-50 chance of making it to the end.
Seafood industry supply chains are notorious for being long and opaque. Not for oyster growers, said Monica Jain, founder of the sustainable seafood investment competition Fish 2.0, who sees oysters as one of the most promising sectors represented in this year’s applicant pool.
“Most people [growers] are selling them direct,” Jain told Undercurrent News. She connects with oyster companies regularly through her biennial competition. This year, 161 entered for the chance to become one of the 40 finalists to present their sustainable seafood business ideas to a room of 300 attendees, including investors, at the finals in November.
At this point, "of the 80 contestants moving on to this year’s competition’s final rounds, more than a dozen are oyster companies", Jain said.
Media stories often cite Sandbar Oyster Company as an unlikely partnership between a scientist and a fisherman — a successful duo not only in the half-shell market, but also in ecological restoration.
“He’s not my normal consideration of what a scientist would be like.” That’s how fisherman David Cessna, better known simply as Clammerhead, describes Niels Lindquist in a WRAL-TV story.
A closer look reveals the collaboration is not so surprising. A few years back, they were part of an applied research team studying N.C. fisheries and habitats. Administered by North Carolina Sea Grant, those research projects required one or more partners from the fishing industry.
There was a big fillet of king salmon on my cutting board, a shimmering, deep orange, magnificent in its heft. It resembled the farmed salmon you see at the supermarket all year long in the same way a perfect, just-picked peach from the orchard resembles the one in syrup you’re served on an airplane. It was glistening with hard-earned fat, a product of thousands of miles of migration and eating, from birth in the snow-fed headwaters of Alaskan rivers to a life lived in the sea beneath. Wild salmon takes its bright color and derives its rich flavor from the forage it hunts on its journey away from and back to home, not from the pellets a farmer selects for hue and feeds the fish as they swim lazily in a pen.
I pan-roasted mine in foaming butter backed up by the instant zip and high heat of jalapeño peppers. When I had consumed it in a rush of pleasure, I got to thinking about where such salmon come from, who catches them and how they make their way across the United States.
We’ve been told time and time again that the most sustainable, healthiest seafood choice is wild-caught fish, but times are changing: as the world’s wild fish populations deplete at an ever-growing pace, strides are being made in the world of fish farming, and today, sustainable aquaculture is the way to go.
Don’t believe us? Here are five great reasons to choose (sustainable!) farmed fish instead of wild.
When you browse the fish counter or order off a seafood menu, can you be sure the species label is accurate and the fish was caught or farmed ethically? In many cases, the answer is no. A 2014 report in Marine Policy estimates that over 20 percent of wild-captured seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal fisheries, and a 2016 report from Oceana estimates that, on average, 20 percent of seafood worldwide is mislabeled. The opaque supply chain of many seafood products can hide a host of problems, including human rights abuses in the labor force, fishing in protected areas or of protected species and environmental degradation.
You know what there’s really plenty of in the sea? Algae. And I am in love with them. Most people envision algae as slimy, possibly toxic, green scum. But this diverse group of fast-growing aquatic plants is about to undergo an image makeover, and may soon seem flat-out glamorous.
Algae got a lot of excited press a few years ago as a potential biofuel, but they’re turning out to be a sustainable super-ingredient with transformative potential in several massive industries: fish and other animal feeds, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, bioplastics and fertilizers.
They’re also gaining favor as a vegetarian seafood. In all, the market for algae products could reach nearly $45 billion by 2023, according to a 2016 Credence Research market analysis.
Monica Jain of Fish 2.0 writes in National Geographic about how the algae brand is about to undergo an image makeover, and may soon seem flat-out glamorous — once again. Algae got a lot of excited press a few years ago as a potential biofuel, but they’re turning out to be a sustainable super-ingredient with transformative potential in several massive industries: fish and other animal feeds, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, bioplastics and fertilizers. They’re also gaining favor as a vegetarian seafood. In all, the market for algae products could reach nearly $45 billion by 2023, according to a 2016 Credence Research market analysis.
Fish 2.0, an information provider for investors in the sustainable seafood sector, is tracking ventures growing microalgae as feed for shellfish or an ingredient in fish feeds, as well as growing algae to create needed jobs, especially for women in coastal communities. Some sell the algae they harvest to pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies; others sell to food companies.
MOREHEAD CITY – A new design of artificial oyster reef-maker could buck the trend on where living shorelines best work.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences, or IMS, are introducing a type of reef that may withstand high-energy wave action areas typically deemed unsuitable for natural shoreline stabilization.
Living shoreline projects are built with various structural and organic materials such as plants, submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster shells and stone. They generally work best along sheltered coasts such as estuaries, bays, lagoons and coastal deltas, where wave energy is low to moderate.
This month, researchers will put to the test a series of reef platforms that are going to be installed as part of what is, to date, the longest state-permitted living shoreline project in North Carolina.
Just a few years ago, it was taboo to buy farmed fish, but now, experts are saying aquaculture might actually be the only way to ensure sustainable seafood consumption. The key to this apparent paradox is in finding something sustainable to feed all those farmed fish.