Ocean impact investing is picking up speed as international institutional investors flocked to the Blue Ocean Fund, launched last year by Paris-based asset manager SWEN Capital Partners.
SWEN Capital Partners said its Blue Ocean Fund, which invests directly in innovative startups working on solutions to overfishing, pollution or climate change, has exceeded a funding target of €120 million.
The latest funding round saw international institutional investors pile an additional €38m into the impact fund, taking its total fundraising to €150m, €30m over its original funding target. A final closing is planned for December 2022.
“We believe ocean impact investing is gaining traction among mainstream investors and we want to play our part in this evolution,” said Christian Lim, managing director of the SWEN Blue Ocean Fund. “The ocean is the main engine of the climate. Yet it is under existential threat and our fund provides investors with the opportunity to combat these challenges at scale, while seeking to achieve competitive market returns.”
Current backers of the fund include a number of big international investors, ranging from pension funds to insurance companies, banks, and family offices.
Among them are insurance firms MACIF and MAIF, French banking group Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, French sovereign investment fund Bpifrance, impact platform Builders Vision, Norwegian investment company Ferd, the Planet Ocean Fund and Ifremer, a leading oceanographic institute which is also the scientific partner of the fund.
Since its launch in September 2021, the fund made eight investments, including Norwegian technology startup OptoScale, UK provider of biodiversity data Nature Metrics, and French software company Spinergie.
Finding solutions to improve ocean health plays a key role in fighting global warming, said Olivier Raybaud, managing director of the SWEN Blue Ocean Fund. “As a sanctuary of biodiversity, the ocean produces over 50% of the oxygen we breathe and plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change, absorbing 93% of the excess heat produced by humans,” he said.
The Blue Ocean Fund aims to fund between 20 to 25 innovative startups across sustainable aquaculture, ocean data, plant and cell-based seafood, alternatives to single-use plastic, renewable marine energies and decarbonisation of maritime transport.
Potential portfolio companies need to “demonstrate market traction and a proven technology”, Lim told Impact Investor in February.