EU pairs ocean energy innovators with investors

Blue Invest 2018 entrepreneurs and investors (Photo: twitter/Karmenu Vella)

Hundreds of innovative entrepreneurs and leading investors from across Europe have gathered in Brussels aiming to partner up for sustainable economic growth of seas and oceans as part of the Blue Invest matchmaking event.

Organized by the European Commission, the first-ever Blue Invest matchmaking event will see 20 companies selected from a list of 120 candidates pitch their investment proposal in front of a jury of professional investors.

Blue Invest 2018 entrepreneurs and investors (Photo: twitter/Karmenu Vella)

In addition, companies will go ‘speed-dating’ with potential business partners. More than 650 of short meetings have already been scheduled for the event – highlighting the clear need and interest in the sector.

Companies will get first-hand advice from European Investment Bank Vice President Jonathan Taylor, industry leaders and financial services experts about scaling up their business and raising interest from potential investors, according to the European Commission.

Participating companies come from all over Europe and beyond, as far as Malaysia, Senegal or the USA.

The Blue Invest event, currently taking place, has been segmented into four different pitching sessions to cover the diverse areas of blue economy.

The four sessions will feature innovative ideas on exploiting ocean for food and energy productions, as well as for the introduction of green and digital solutions in blue economy.
Four major marine energy developers will be presenting in the energy from oceans pitching session.

These include the Dutch-based ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) developer Bluerise; Swedish tidal developer Minesto; Finnish wave energy company Wello; and Scottish tidal energy developer Nova Innovation.

Also related to ocean renewable energy will be a pitch from Exceedence, a spin-out company from the University College Cork in Ireland, with its cloud based techno financial software for renewables.

Karmenu Vella at Blue Invest 2018 (Photo: twitter/Karmenu Vella)

Speaking at the 2018 Blue Invest conference, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said:

“Our experience shows that investors trust big brands and tried-and-tested technologies. Meanwhile, start-ups and scale-ups, especially in emerging areas like ocean energy or blue biotech, are struggling to raise much smaller sums. It’s an issue of visibility. And it’s an issue of credibility as well.

“And in both cases the European Commission is ready to help.

“Over the past months, we have assembled a pipeline of about 600 blue economy projects. We are now sifting through them in a pre-due diligence process. A process to prepare an investment dossier that can convince fund managers that ocean-related business is an area worth investing in.”

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Boosting investment is a core priority for this Commission. We have been successful in developing our financial instruments to mobilise private capital for sustainable investments.

“For example the Investment Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments has already catalysed investments worth over €280 billion in Europe. I encourage everyone to make the most of the EU financial instruments available when developing the future blue economy.”

EU’s future long-term budget aims to crowd in private funding for investments to boost growth and jobs, in addition to public funding, which will remain an important tool for the EU, the Commission said.

In its May 2 proposal for the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), the Commission proposed to commit well over €6 billion through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

In addition, a substantial part of the research, regional and social funds will go to communities and organisations involved in the blue economy. The Commission added it will be on hand during the Blue Invest event to explain the different EU funding opportunities available to companies in the blue economy.