The Ocean 14 Capital Fund, which is working to clean up and revitalise the world’s oceans, has received a €20 million investment from international specialty insurer and reinsurer, Convex Group Limited (“Convex”), taking it past its €150 million funding goal. The Luxembourg-based fund, which also received €10 million from family offices and HNWs, now aims to reach €200 million by the end of 2023.
The investment from Convex means that the Ocean 14 Capital Fund has now raised €160 million from investors including Monaco’s sovereign wealth fund, European Investment Fund (EIF), and Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype and €30 million from the investment arm of Ingka Group.
Chris Gorell Barnes, co-founder of Ocean 14 Capital, believes the Fund is well on track to grow its portfolio to between 20 and 25 businesses within three years, having invested in five companies to date, including SyAqua, a shrimp-breeding technology specialist, and AION, a plastics management platform based in Norway.
The Ocean 14 Capital Fund has also committed €10 million to Brazil-based Tilabras, a leading producer of tilapia, one of the world’s most sustainable sources of animal protein. More recently, the Fund announced an investment of €11 million in land-based Dutch yellowtail producer The Kingfish Company.
Most recently, the Ocean 14 Capital Fund has signed an investment of up to €10 million in Ava Ocean, a Norwegian technology and seafood company which is on a mission to change the way we harvest seafood from the seabed, whilst protecting fragile ocean habitats and invaluable carbon sinks.
Dredging is the most widely used method to harvest bottom dwelling seafoods globally, but this way of fishing takes a significant toll on the seabed and surrounding ecosystems and is increasingly facing criticism from environmental campaigners and ocean conservationists.
In Norway, dredging has been banned for nearly 30 years, preserving ocean habitats, but leaving vast nutritious resources out of reach.
Ava Ocean has developed a unique, non-invasive harvesting gear for bottom-dwelling seafood such as scallops and sea cucumber without disturbing marine ecosystems. The technology combines an advanced water-flow system with AI and camera technology to precision-pick target seafood. Smaller sized specimens or bycatch are returned to the seabed undamaged.
After extensive trials together with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research, the Norwegian government granted Ava Ocean the first licence to harvest Arctic Scallops in the Barents Sea in more than three decades.
Norselab, an Oslo-based investment manager focusing on impact through industrial transformation, has taken Ava Ocean through the critical phase of commercialising its research and technology, proving that the solution is fully operational and profitable. Today, based on a single quota of arctic scallops, the company makes solid positive margins with its harvesting method.
With the injection of capital from the Ocean14 Capital Fund, Ava Ocean will embark on an ambitious international growth plan, accelerating their mission to lead a global shift towards more sustainable fisheries of bottom-dwelling seafoods.
Gorell Barnes commented: “The fact that the Fund has surpassed its initial goal of €150 million shows how important this issue has become to so many people globally and how highly the Fund is thought of.
“We believe that the Fund’s strategic investment in Ava Ocean is significant. The global export market for scallops is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, but most of the scallop fishing industry uses dredging methods which have a devastating effect on seabed ecosystems and biodiversity. The technology developed by Ava Ocean can be rolled out on a global scale and could put an end to harmful seabed practice forever.
“Over the next few years, the Fund aims to invest in many more companies that are all playing a part in saving the oceans. We want the blue economy to become mainstream as ocean health has a direct positive impact for consumers and commerce globally. The Fund is now aiming for investment of €200 million and as its advisers, we are confident that target will be met in the coming months”.
Benji Meuli, Chief Investment Officer, Convex, said: “The insurance industry can play a tangible role in the future of our planet and Convex sees investing in a sustainable blue economy as vital in our fight against the climate crisis. Ocean 14 Capital Fund’s commitment to strategically supporting businesses and initiatives will drive the kind of change that will bring about a brighter, cleaner future for our oceans and the communities they sustain”.
Øystein Tvedt, CEO, Ava Ocean, said: “With the Ocean14 Capital Fund onboard, we can embark on the next chapter in Ava Ocean’s journey to reinvent seabed harvesting. The global potential for our solution is immense, and we are excited to be able to explore international opportunities with the support of the Ocean14 Capital Fund. They share our unwavering belief in bringing about real change through innovation and collaboration, and with their expertise in the global blue economy bring invaluable know-how ahead of this next phase for Ava Ocean. With the support of the Ocean 14 Capital Fund, along with our existing investors, we are well-positioned to scale our operations for international growth and to further develop our innovative solution.”
Maria de Perlinghi, Partner and Chief Impact Officer at Norselab, concluded: “Ava Ocean offers a commercially scalable solution to multiple stressors the ocean is subject to, which has far-reaching consequences for our climate, biodiversity, human health, and livelihoods. It’s a real alternative to the destructive catching practices currently deployed in most countries globally. We believe Ava Ocean can generate system-level impact in the seafood industry.”