Both established and early-stage enterprises can apply through the Fish 2.0 website.
The competition gives participating entrepreneurs unparalleled access to investors, advisors, and partners who can help their businesses grow. Over 60 per cent of the finalists in the Fish 2.0 2015 competition gained investment, new partners, or new customers from connections they made during the programme.
“Fish 2.0 made us a company to watch—and that’s opened the door to a lot of press opportunities, investors, retailers, and partners,” said Jacqueline Claudia, CEO of Colorado-based Love the Wild.
“The best thing coming out of Fish 2.0 is the network. It’s a real community, and the connections keep getting stronger.”
The Fish 2.0 competition is “a unique learning experience,” said Emmanuelle Bourgois, director of FairAgora Asia and Verifik8. “It shaped the idea from a concept to a robust business model, boosted my confidence in my entrepreneurship skills, and was the real starting point of this amazing and innovative adventure.”
Investors, industry, NGOs find emerging innovations at Fish 2.0
Investors, seafood industry leaders, foundations, and economic development agencies support the competition and interact with participating businesses.
“Fish 2.0 does a great job of getting all the different stakeholders in a room behind real solutions to a more sustainable, open, and transparent seafood sector. The conversations and collaborations that start in that room drive quite a bit for us,” said Amy Novogratz, managing partner at Aqua-Spark, a Fish 2.0 supporting sponsor in 2015 and 2017.
The Netherlands-based fund, which invests in aquaculture across the value chain, invested in Love the Wild after the 2015 competition and is tracking a number of the companies the partners met at Fish 2.0. “We hope to see companies this year that are not yet on our radar,” Novogratz added.
Fish 2.0 urges investors, business leaders, and sustainability experts who want to participate in the competition to sign up now (http://fish20.org/investors/getinvolved). Those who serve as advisors receive priority access to the invitation-only final event.
Track structure ensures diverse finalists, gives investors a global view
This year’s new track structure puts participants in competition initially with their regional peers or in one of two global themed tracks, with the top scorers from each track moving on to the global finals.
The six regional tracks are Chile and Peru, New England (US), Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, South Atlantic and Gulf Coast Shellfish, and West Coast (US). The global tracks are Transparency and Traceability, and Supply Chain Innovation. Each track has specific eligibility criteria, detailed at http://fish20.org/competitions/2017tracks.
“This new structure will ensure diversity among finalists and give investors a global perspective on emerging innovations in the seafood industry. It also begins to create regional networks that can support growing businesses, as well as global networks for innovators working on seafood’s biggest challenges,” said Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 founder and executive director.
“This feeds into Fish 2.0’s larger project of creating a global platform for seafood that can drive innovation, business growth, and positive social and environmental impacts.”
The competition takes place online over several months. Participants are paired with investors and advisors who work with them on developing their business strategy and positioning their enterprise to gain investment. The top three businesses from each regional track and the top five businesses from each global track will be invited to pitch to investors at the November 7-8 final event at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. They will compete for over $50,000 in cash prizes as well as Industry Connection (ICX) prizes providing unique access to high-level seafood buyers, investors, and industry experts. Fish 2.0 will announce ICX prizes throughout the application period on the website’s prizes page (http://fish20.org/prizes/prizesandawards).
Sponsors line up behind Fish 2.0 goals
Core sponsors of the Fish 2.0 2017 competition are the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State, and Walton Family Foundation. Supporting sponsors are Aqua-Spark, Center for Ocean Solutions, F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge, Feed the Future, Legal Sea Foods, Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation, Massachusetts Port Authority, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest, Rabobank Group, Schmidt Family Foundation, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Winrock International, and Fish 2.0 creator Manta Consulting.
The Fish 2.0 2017 application period is open through April 29.