- EIF announces €45 million of investments into funds across Europe under the first ever equity funding programme for the EU blue economy sector
- Investments into Astanor Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures I announced at the BlueInvest Day conference in Brussels
- EIF has approved three additional investments into funds with specialised blue economy strategies and in total over €300 million of funding is expected to flow into the blue economy
The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Fund, to announce €45 million of BlueInvest fund financing into 2 funds targeting the blue economy across Europe. During the BlueInvest Day conference in Brussels, EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, confirmed investments into Astanor Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures I.
The BlueInvest pilot initiative managed by the European Investment Fund, provides financing to underlying equity funds that strategically target and support the innovative blue economy. This sector can play an important role in the transformation to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, an ambition announced in the European Green Deal. The programme is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Since its launch last yearEIF has deployed €45 million of the €75 million BlueInvest pilot initiative. Two new funds with established teams have received funding to-date, whose strategies encompass the agrifood tech industry including the blue economy, with an emphasis on food security, health and sustainability. These investments will support start-ups developing innovative products, materials, and services that can contribute to enhance ocean conservation and the sustainability of the blue economy.
Three additional fund investments into specialised blue economy funds, and backed by BlueInvest and InnovFin Equity under Horizon 2020 finance, have also already been approved and are expected to materialise during the course of 2021. It is thus expected that the BlueInvest funds will be signed in the coming months. Through investments into these funds, around €300 million in equity funding will be mobilised for investment in innovative and sustainable ventures active in the Blue Economy.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans & Fisheries, said: “With BlueInvest, the Commission and the EIF have a powerful instrument in place to promote the blue economy as a cornerstone of the European Green Deal. We encourage innovative small and medium companies and start-ups to take advantage of the funds and help us realise a sustainable, carbon-neutral future for Europe.”
EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard, said: “I am delighted that less than a year after launching this new initiative we have already deployed EUR 45m of finance to support the Blue economy via Astanor Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures. Our ambition is to contribute towards the construction of a well-functioning, deep and comprehensive European equity ecosystem for the blue economy.”
Eric Archambeau, Co-Founder and Partner at Astanor Ventures, said: “The oceans are responsible for half of the world's oxygen production and absorb 50x more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. Yet overfishing, plastic pollution and degraded sea beds continue to choke this key resource for life. What motivates us are the tech-led solutions that the most ambitious entrepreneurs are developing. They go beyond sustainability and are regenerating the ocean ecosystem through innovation. Ynsect and Notpla are just two of our early investments in this space. It's thanks to EIF's forward thinking and capital that we can finance them and many more to deliver positive impact.”
Michael Kleindl, Founder and Managing Partner at Blue Horizon Ventures I, said: “We are very happy to see that the EIB / EIF and the European Commission is tackling this so pressing issue of “Sustainability in the Food System including Blue Oceans” and is supporting Venture Funds like us with additional capital /firepower. It is a good starting point and hopefully we will see much more capital from the public and private sector moving into this direction. It is urgently needed.”
The BlueInvest fund is complemented by the European Commission's BlueInvest platform, which supports investment readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. Through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Commission also funds an additional €40 million grant scheme, to help blue economy SMEs with developing and bringing to market new innovative and sustainable products, technologies and services.
These announcements come at a time when both institutions are exploring future cooperation in the context of the next Multi Financial Framework with a view to continue meeting financing needs emerging in this nascent VC market.
BlueInvest is a European Commission and European Investment Fund initiative that aims to improve access to finance and investment readiness for start-ups, early-stage businesses and SMEs active in the blue economy. Its features include an online community, investment readiness assistance for companies, investor engagement, events, an academy and a projects pipeline. More information here https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/maritimeforum/en/frontpage/1451. The blue economy pilot under EFSI Equity product is designed to stimulate investments and sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors. Through this initiative, the EIF is investing in equity funds whose investment strategies target partially or fully economic activities including natural or cultural capital, ocean energy, climate action, inclusion of coastal communities and better coastal protection. Funds and portfolio companies may also benefit simultaneously from grants under the DG MARE Open Calls for Proposals. The Investment Plan for Europe focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.
The EIF is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment. EIF is active in the blue economy sector across Europe and last year, alongside the Portuguese national promotional institution, Instituição Financeira de Desenvolvimento (IFD), launched PORTUGAL BLUE, a €50 million equity partnership to support Portuguese companies active in the area of the blue economy.