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SWEN’s Blue Ocean Fund closes at €170m, exceeding target

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Published: 17 March 2023

The fund invests in startups supporting ocean regeneration , at a time when the ‘blue economy’ is becoming a magnet for impact investment.

The Blue Ocean Fund invests in startups providing solutions directed to ocean regeneration | Photo by samsommer on Unsplash

SWEN Capital Partners said it has closed its Blue Ocean Fund at €170m, exceeding its original target by €50m. Blue Ocean, which invests in startups supporting ocean regeneration, is now the largest fund dedicated to innovation in marine health, according to the firm. 

Strong investor interest in the fund underscores growing interest in ocean-related impact investing. The recent COP27 climate change conference and COP15 biodiversity summit highlighted the crucial role the world’s oceans play in maintaining and diversifying ecosystems, and tackling the impacts of global warming. The extent of support for the fund also reflects growing investment opportunities in the global “blue economy”, which WWF estimates is worth at least $2.5trn annually.

The fund’s most recent funding round drew investments from French insurer Abeille Assurances and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Other investors include French insurance firms MACIF and MAIF, French banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, French public investment bank Bpifrance, US impact platform Builders Vision, Norwegian family-owned investment company Ferd, the Austrian-based Planet Ocean Fund and French ocean research institute Ifremer.

Christian Lim, SWEN Blue Ocean Fund’s managing director, told Impact Investor in November that the range of funding sources for ocean-related impact investments was expanding fast to include mainstream investors, having been restricted to more niche investors such as family offices just a few years earlier. 

Blue Ocean was launched by SWEN in September 2021 in partnership with Ifremer to invest in up to 25 companies, mainly start-ups, working in sustainable aquaculture, ocean data, plant and cell-based seafood, single-use plastic alternatives, renewable marine energies and maritime transport decarbonisation.

So far, the fund has made nine investments. The most recent, announced in February, was in  Bibak, a French firm that has developed software technology to improve reuse of packaging, which might otherwise end up polluting the world’s oceans.

Other investee firms include Norwegian firm Eco Subsea that uses robots to remove organic matter the hulls of vessels to improve fuel efficiency, UK firm NatureMetrics that provides biodiversity monitoring, and  French-based BlueNav , whose technology can convert any boat propelled by combustion engines into a hybrid electric boat.

SWEN Capital Partners is also a co-founder of the 1000 Ocean Start-ups initiative, a coalition of incubators, accelerators, and others, which aims to help start-ups to scale up. In 2022, the coalition launched its “Ocean Impact Navigator”, an open-source impact key performance indicators framework, designed to simplify, harmonise and strengthen impact measurement and reporting for the ocean-based sector.

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