Network based systems

Sustainable Ocean Alliance transforms from accelerator to “network of ecopreneurs”


Cohorts arrive in waves for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

The first group of startups supported by the association included SafetyNet Technologies, CalWave Technologies and LOLIWARE.

These three cohorts of the first wave have achieved a lot since their selections in 2018, says Daniela Fernandez, founder and CEO of the alliance. The alliance is also changing, moving from an accelerator program to a “network of ecopreneurs”.

“We don’t want to be a time-limited program anymore,” Fernandez says. Given the urgency of the issues facing the world’s oceans, the California-based Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) will soon introduce a membership model for startups, with lifetime support akin to an “ongoing concierge-style service.”

A new round of applications will open at the 27th annual UN Climate Change Conference (aka COP27) in November.

SOA’s goal is to raise $100 million over the next three years and become a stand-alone organization, rather than continuing to follow the philanthropic model of applying for funding from foundations each year.

Approximately $15 million has been raised to date. As more foundations join us and startups see returns, the revenue stream will increase and help fund more solutions, Fernandez says.

“We have a capital share of the startups, once they enter the program. We are therefore investors in these startups. If they succeed, we succeed.

SOA has backed 45 startups to date and believes returns are imminent.

This first wave of cohorts — SafetyNet Technologies, CalWave Technologies, and LOLIWARE — are “thriving and still having an impact,” says Fernandez.

SafetyNet-Technologiesfor example, says his team, product portfolio, and revenue have grown since graduating from SOA’s first accelerator cohort.

“We have launched a wave of commercial trials around the world with Pisces, our bycatch reduction technology, working with major players in fish capture including Trident, Clearwater, Cooke Aquaculture, UN, Tesco and Marks & Spencers,” says Dan Watson, co-founder and CEO.

“We have also developed a new product, CaptureCamwhich is an affordable and robust camera system allowing fishing crews to finally see what is going on in their fishing gear” which will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Looking ahead, SOA sees a need to continue educating governments around the world on the role technology can play in solving the ocean crisis (from plastics to climate change, etc.).

“For example, when you look at the recent (reduction of inflation) law passed in the United States, there is not much talk about wave energy, which is actually more efficient than solar and wind energy” , says Fernandez.

There is an investment and funding gap as startups begin to grow, she adds.

“The solutions exist and the talents exist. We just need the support of governments and financial institutions to really spread these ideas.

Fernandez worries about proposals to the UN to deep sea mining.

“Many companies claim to have exhausted most of the minerals in the land and now they need more,” says the CEO. “Deep sea mining is like deploying a nuclear bomb in the ocean.

“No start-up will be able to fix a completely wiped-out seabed. So if we’re trying to restore and regenerate the environment, how can we allow that to happen in our lifetime?”

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