(This article originally appeared on November 10th, 2017)
Fish 2.0 closed out its 2017 Innovation Forum today by awarding cash prizes to the eight seafood ventures earning the highest scores in this year’s Fish 2.0 business competition. The winners are simplifying supply chains while increasing income for fishers and farmers, bringing to market creative approaches to aquaculture production and traceability, and getting consumers excited about seafood.
“We’re elated that we won and also humbled—there are so many bright lights in the seafood industry right now, and so much innovation going on,” said Eric Enno Tamm, CEO of ThisFish. “Many of those companies approached me about our technology. It’s helpful to connect with these early adopters who want to revolutionize how seafood is produced, distributed and branded.”
Diverse panels of investor-judges chose the cash prize winners from among 22 presenters who came out on top in six regional and two global tracks. Judges picked the strongest business in each track based on the presenters’ 3-minute pitches and 5-minute question-and-answer sessions on stage at Stanford University. Each winner received a $5,000 cash prize. The winners by track are:
- ThisFish (Transparency and Traceability) a Vancouver, B.C., company whose traceability software helps seafood enterprises around the world record key supply chain data and improve business efficiency. Judges were impressed by the company’s customer rollout plan and its clarity about its targets in the value chain.
- NovoNutrients (Supply Chain Innovation) of Sunnyvale, California, which is using food-grade bacteria to make fish food from industrial carbon emissions.
- Sustainable Fishery Trade (Chile and Peru), a Lima, Peru–based social enterprise that works with artisanal fishers to provide high-quality, traceable seafood direct to restaurants.
- Real Oyster Cult (New England), a Duxbury, Massachusetts, business that ships fresh oysters from all over North America direct to consumers overnight.
- Didds Fishing Company (Pacific Islands), a Solomon Islands social enterprise that enables island communities to fish for premium bottom-water species offshore, relieving pressure on in-shore fisheries.
- EnerGaia (Southeast Asia), a Bangkok-based company that farms spirulina, an algae superfood, on urban rooftops and in rural communities for use in a variety of food products. Judges praised the company’s great concept and clear thinking about how to scale.
- Panacea Oyster Co-Op (South Atlantic and Gulf Coast Shellfish) of Spring Creek, Florida, which is restoring oyster farming in Apalachicola Bay by creating a unified brand and guaranteeing purchases to farmers.
- Northline Seafoods (U.S. West Coast), an Alaska-based company whose unique floating processing facility eliminates waste and extends the shelf life of sustainable wild salmon.
“I was impressed with the range of businesses and innovations,” said Leigh Moran, senior officer, strategy, at Calvert Impact Capital, which is sponsoring an ICX prize. “This was the strongest group yet at Fish 2.0; I noticed more focus on brand and more sophistication, combined with a commitment to building the sustainable seafood sector overall.”
The 39 companies presenting at the finals emerged with top scores from an initial field of 184 and prevailed in a particularly strong semifinalist field of 80 ventures. During Fish 2.0’s seven-month competition program, which took place online up to the finals, businesses received feedback from investor-judges and worked with business and impact advisors to develop their strategies, integrate positive impacts and metrics into their plans, and position their enterprise for investment. At least six judges scored each competitor that reached the finals.
“The power of this event is seeing a lot of different companies approaching similar problems with a variety of technologies,” said Dan Pullman of Fresh Source Capital, a judge on two panels. “I can compare their presentations, talk to them and get to know them. I’m impressed—the entrepreneurs are very well prepared. They are ready to be communicating to investors.”
Leading up to the Innovation Forum, Fish 2.0 analyzed the market demands that companies in the Fish 2.0 network are responding to and found that five accelerating global trends are driving transformation in the seafood industry: the need to predict and understand climate change impacts; wild fish stocks nearing maximum yield; product globalization and the rise of online sales; the worldwide growth of a health-conscious middle class; and aquaculture’s rapid expansion. These five trends are opening up new markets in the seafood sector, and ventures around the world are racing to capture a share of the opportunities.
“Innovation in the seafood sector is growing like never before,” said Fish 2.0 founder and executive director Monica Jain. “Rapid technology advances and new players are coming to this previously traditional sector. We’re seeing creative products, services and business models that solve problems and remove barriers to both sustainability and growth of the seafood supply. These innovations are poised to create significant changes in the way seafood is produced, harvested and marketed over the next decade.”
About Fish 2.0
Fish 2.0 is a Carmel, California–based social enterprise that connects investors and entrepreneurs to grow the global sustainable seafood sector. Working through Fish 2.0’s expanding global network, regional workshops and other events, and competition platform, Fish 2.0 participants collaborate to drive innovation, business growth and positive impact. Everyone benefits: Entrepreneurs meet potential investors, partners and advisors. Investors and advisors get early access to investment opportunities and learn about emerging technologies and trends. Industry leaders gain direct access to sustainable seafood suppliers and partners.