European blue funds raised €760m. What chances for seaweed?

Impact funds are raising more sorely needed blue finance. Can seaweed benefit?

4 European ocean impact funds raised 260 million euros over the past few months, targeting 470 million euros when they close later in the year. These are

2 more funds that explicitly mention seaweed as part of their investment strategy are raising funds as well. Finance Earth’s Blue Impact Fund is aiming for £50-75 million pounds, while Hatch Blue intend to grow about 20 regenerative and sustainable aquaculture businesses over the next 10 years.

On top of that, the new InvestEU Blue Economy fund announced €500 million for financial intermediaries to unlock €1,5 billion of risk-financing for blue economy SMEs. 

ORRAA, the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, said the development of a new global finance ecosystem designed to channel hundreds of millions of dollars into ocean natural capital by 2030 is underway. And another EU initiative, the €300 million European Circular Bioeconomy Fund, stated “we have only scratched the surface of how we can use seaweed as a driving force for a global bioeconomy.” 

The recent announcements are sorely needed, as the lack of investment in sustainable blue economy startups and SMEs has been echoed across the industry.

Will seaweed investment grow accordingly?

That is the question. Particularly the upstream part of the supply chain is seen as interesting but risky by investors. One ambitious seaweed grower summarizes: “There is certainly a lot of interest from impact funds, ocean funds, climate funds. But for us it was still a challenge to find somebody willing to invest. I guess it’s part of the early phase as the market is improving.”

Another aquaculture CEO confirms:  “We obviously could use more investors to have the courage to invest in us, and we will get there. But it’s going to take a little bit of time. We need another couple of cycles, probably.”

One question on investors’ minds is: how much demand is there? There are few doubters on that question; most agree that the demand is certainly there. So, since seaweed grown in Europe and North America is expensive, a more accurate question is: what demand is there – at different price points?

When asked how much seaweed they plan to harvest by 2030, seaweed growers looking to scale in Europe and North America predict “tens of thousands of tonnes.” That’s quite vague. Whether the eventual result will be closer to 10 000 or 100 000 tonnes will likely depend, in no small part, on the price.

What will that price be? We are eager to find out.