Island Ocean Cluster Winkel for “blue venture capital” in water management


This week has the Island Ocean Cluster (IOC), a pioneering aquatic startup incubator in Reykjavik, celebrated its 10th anniversary amid several milestones in its mission to develop a “blue economy” from investing in and around Icelandic waters. The IOC, headquartered in the port of Reykjavik, is a meetup and matchmaker for industry, research and development, startups and venture capital investors. The presence and proactivity of this harbor greenhouse has played no small part in creating a culture of global entrepreneurship in the Icelandic ocean economy, a sector valued at around $ 5 billion to $ 6 billion, or 25 percent of the entire Icelandic economy, but with plenty of room therefore offers grow.

According to Iceland Ocean Cluster’s own information, the number of ocean-related startups in Iceland has increased 150 percent over the past decade, reflecting growth in nutraceuticals and oceanic health products, seaweed startups, food / Ag-Tech, Fish farms and ocean is attributed to surrounding area. A clutch from these companies is now valued at $ 600 million Kerecis, Manufacturer of biotherapeutic agents that use fish skin cells to regenerate human skin, Arctic fish, Cold supply chain as a service startup Controller, Manufacturer of marine bioplastics Marea, Developer of trawler technology Optitogand food additive manufacturers Marine collagen.

According to the IOC director Dr. Thor Sigfusson (himself a three-time blue economy entrepreneur) says Iceland’s emerging success as a blue economy hotbed is related to the country’s way of thinking about its borders resources and the commandment to treat them well.

“Iceland is primarily a mindset for innovation and growth in the marine space,” said Sigfusson Investable universe. “Foreign blue startups had a much easier time finding partners in the industry to test their ideas. In this context, the high level of trust in Iceland was also important. Foreign investment In our core industry – fishing – the restriction is limited, but many foreign investors have entered the fastest growing sectors such as marine biotechnology, aquaculture, processing technology and seaweed. “

At the heart of the IOC’s mission is the “100% Fish Project,” a campaign designed to inspire food processors and other start-ups by the sea to use more of every fish caught in Iceland, to increase the value of every fish landed, to increase employment to increase and Business opportunitiesand reduce waste. For example, thanks to improved processing and handling, as well as advances in research and development, companies within the Icelandic Ocean Cluster have been able to export dried fish heads and bones (long regarded as waste by-products of commercial fishing) as raw material for dietary supplements. Proteins, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other high quality products.

According to the IOC, Icelandic cod fillet producers have seen their fillet product yield increase over the past two decades, accounting for 35 to 45 percent of the total weight of cod. Since the 1990s, the use of fishing by-products in Iceland has increased 30-fold and the export value per kilogram of cod has quadrupled as the portfolio of marine products expanded. Due to major technological advances and the ability to connect with other companies and investors in the fisheries supply chain, Icelandic cod producers can consume up to 80 percent of all fish today, according to the IOC. This corresponds to an average raw material utilization rate of slightly more than 50 percent in Europe and North America.

Exporting this approach to fisheries and marine management is an area where foreign investment is urgently needed, according to Thor Sigfusson.

“The challenge for Icelanders is that because of the limited global network in biotechnology, nutraceuticals, etc., domestic investors have not been able to support our startups in their globalization the way I would like,” he said.

In addition to its efforts to attract venture capital to Iceland, the IOC is also helping the growth of “sister clusters” in the United States: independent companies doing similar aquatic R&D work. These include offshore wind power development in Massachusetts, lobster farming in Maine, and kelp growing in Connecticut.

For more information on the emerging venture capital market for startups in the ocean economy, Thor Sigfusson recently wrote a book: The new fish wave.

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