Monaco commits €10m to sustainable seas fund
Investment is a rallying cry for marine innovators, says principality’s finance minister
An investment fund focused on aquaculture innovators and companies that provide sustainable solutions to improve ocean health has received €10 million from Monaco’s sovereign wealth fund.
The commitment from the principality means the fund, Ocean 14 Capital, has now raised €100 m towards its target of €150 m since the fund’s launch in December last year.
Fund advisor Ocean 14 Capital Ltd said the impact fund is on track to invest in eight companies this year, and to grow its portfolio to between 20 and 25 businesses within three years.
Searching for entrepreneurs
Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 14: Life Below Water as a guiding principle, Ocean 14 Capital is searching for entrepreneurs and businesses with big ideas around aquaculture and alternative proteins, reducing plastic waste pollution, protecting ecosystems and marine flora, and ending overfishing.
It has already invested made three investments. These include paying US $12 million in June for a controlling interest in Singapore-headquartered SyAqua, which provides solutions for shrimp hatcheries and farmers, combining genetics and early-stage nutrition, and operates in the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Ocean 14 has also taken operational control of Aion AS, a plastic management platform founded by Norwegian krill harvester Aker BioMarine. Ocean 14 and Aker BioMarine agreed in June to jointly finance a NOK 40 m convertible loan facility to Aion to fund growth and working capital. Aion helps companies recycle their plastic and source recycled plastic for new equipment or products.
In August, Ocean 14 invested in MITO SrL, a clam breeding and farming venture in Italy and the Netherlands.
Prince Albert II of Monaco has a long history of supporting ocean conservation. His Foundation has invested over €90 m during the past 15 years to fund more than 700 projects, in a bid to promote ocean health and limit the effects of climate change.
Monaco’s finance minister, Jean Castellini, said : “I believe that this investment will enable Ocean 14 Capital to deliver the innovation needed to meet our climate and sustainability goals.
“The sustainable blue economy is now a key focus for us, and this is a rallying cry for start-up and scale-up marine innovators globally to come forward and help avert the crisis in our oceans and return them to a healthy thriving state.”
Overhauling the capital market
Chris Gorell Barnes, co-founding partner of Ocean 14 Capital, said that although philanthropy was doing a “solid job” to fund projects that can restore ocean health, “we need to overhaul the capital market to really stand a chance of averting the climate crisis”.
We’re at a pivotal point in finance, and I think it’s going to be as revolutionary as the technology shift we’ve had in the last 20 years
Ocean 14 Capital co-founder
The Ocean 14 Capital fund will focus primarily on investing in growth-stage businesses. It is aiming that around two thirds of the fund will go to companies based in Europe, with the remainder aimed to be used to invest in the rest of the world.
“We have the science, the network, the understanding of marine conservations; we’ve got experience of building multibillion dollar asset management businesses, and we’ve got industry know-how, in terms of investing in and executing within the industry,” said Gorell-Barnes.
“We’re at a pivotal point in finance, and I think it’s going to be as revolutionary as the technology shift we’ve had in the last 20 years.
“We’ll see how impact investing becomes totally transformational in terms of how capital is deployed, there will be a lot of new regulations coming in, driving institutional capital to invest in vehicles that are having a positive and measurable impact on the environment and society."