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Aquaculture Startups Dominate Finals of Sustainable Seafood Business Competition

September 21, 2015

Sustainable seafood business competition Fish 2.0 has selected 37 companies to pitch to investors at its Stanford University final in November, with aquaculture-focused businesses representing over a third of the group.

The competition — which aims to help build knowledge and connections in the global seafood industry, after founder Monica Jain noticed a large, fish-shaped hole in investor portfolios — received 170 applications from businesses across the globe. This is twice the number that applied in the competition’s first iteration in 2013. Its geographical diversity has also widened to 17 countries to include the United States, Canada, Latin America, the South Pacific, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

“The diversity and breadth of the finalists shows that innovation in seafood is growing all over the world. We are especially excited to see sustainability and invention taking root in the markets where the fish are coming from, not just where they are consumed—and to see change happening throughout the supply chain,” wrote Jain in a press release.

Of the 37 selected to pitch, 18 companies were shortlisted as finalists to be in with a chance to win part of the $180,000 worth of cash prizes.

The finalists include companies presenting innovations around land-based aquaculture, deep-water aquaculture, wild capture, rights-based management, supply chains, fish feed, and aquaponics. “The full list of companies can be found here.

These finalists will be given five minutes each to pitch investors — which will range from venture capital firms to corporates and endowment funds to foundations — while the runners up will have 90 seconds.

The companies were selected by a group of online judges assessing them across three tracks: startup companies with no revenue to-date; early stage companies with one month to three years of revenues; and growth scale companies with more than three years of revenues.

But two-thirds of the companies selected to pitch are already post-revenue, which is a positive signal for the market and its diversity, according to Jain.

“The fact that so many post-revenue companies are competing proves that there is a market for these new approaches,” she wrote. “From what we see, these companies will not be stepping on each other’s toes—they’re each offering something different, and there is room in the market for most, if not all, of them, to grow.”

Fish 2.0 expects to attract over 300 attendees to the event on November 10 and 11 in Stanford, and a wide range of investors including some that Kate Danaher, senior lending associate at RSF Social Finance, the US-based community development finance institution, described as more “mainstream” than the predominantly impact-focused investors in the room in 2013.

Jain also hopes this year’s competition will exceed the success of its previous round; in 2013, 60 percent of businesses that presented reported that they got investment or had improved sales.

Investors interested in attending the finals should email the Fish 2.0 team.

Have news, tips or want to write a guest article? Email [email protected]

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