2021 Gulf of Maine Ventures Impact Report

Announcements | Dec 31, 2021

It’s been a busy year for our Gulf of Maine Ventures team, as we’ve been working to deepen our institutional partnerships, build our brand, raise capital, and provide hands-on advisory support to a growing regional ecosystem of Blue Economy startups. With significant traction across each of these objectives, we are pleased to share our progress to date.

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Gulf of Maine Ventures is the growing business development and impact investment arm of GMRI. Our mission is to catalyze solutions to global ocean challenges by creating, scaling, and investing in innovative blue economy companies. By supporting and investing in companies that offer high impact solutions, we aim to achieve a resilient, modernized 21st century marine economy.

Gulf of Maine Ventures at a Glance

A quick look at our team size, fundraising levels, startups engaged, and company exits.

Ventures Team

GMRI Staff
2.5 FTE

Our team doubled this year, with Lucy Barrett joining as Senior Associate in September 2021. Jeff Bate, Senior Product Manager, will also join our team in a half-time capacity this year.

Investment Partners

We also formalized our partnership with investment partners Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew.

GMRI Staff

Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew will manage a for-profit impact investment fund, Bold Ocean Ventures as partners with Gulf of Maine Ventures. Brady and Tim jointly bring over 45 years of experience in early-stage venture capital, impact finance and operations, and public policy.

Investment Partners

Fundraising, Startups, and Company Exits

Total Funds Raised

To date we've raised $1.8 million to cover Ventures’ operating costs, with more pending. We have also raised $1.5 million to support the growth of GMRI-incubated start-up, True Fin.

Mackerel Cove, full of docks, boats, lobster traps, and lots of shoreside infrastructure and housing.
Company Exits

We successfully sold GMRI-incubated start-up, New England Marine Monitoring, to private investors in June 2021.

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Startups Engaged

We've supported nearly three dozen early-stage startups in the Blue Economy as part of the two Economic Development Administration grants we've been awarded.

Capacity Building

Building on the launch of our first two companies, True Fin and New England Marine Monitoring, GMRI was awarded back-to-back Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants in 2021 to underpin our strategy of engaging with companies along the capital continuum — from ideation and early-stage all the way through to investment.

We do this by:

  1. Creating and incubating companies from within GMRI or partner research institutions.
  2. Working with existing businesses that are implementing their own innovative solutions to refine their products and scale their business models in preparation for investment.
  3. Investing in businesses that have demonstrated strong mission-impact and revenue potential through our partnership with investment professionals at Bold Ocean Ventures.

Our Create, Scale, Invest model serves as the foundation for how we engage with founders, develop the pipeline of both innovative and investable blue economy companies, increase the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's mission impact, and ultimately maximize the deep impact of our Ventures work. With these “early-wins” and substantial traction on the foundational work, we are now expanding our capacity to scale and invest, with exciting updates on both fronts, described below.

Scale and Invest

GMRI's Bold Ocean Residency Program at the Roux Institute:

We are thrilled to announce that we plan to launch a formal founder accelerator program called The Bold Ocean Residency Program at the Roux Institute. This program will support the acceleration and scaling of up to 10 innovative blue economy companies annually with a focus on ocean economy innovations and climate data technology solutions. The selected entrepreneur teams will be housed at the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine, and will benefit from the joint subject matter expertise, programming experience, and networks of both GMRI and the Roux Institute. We will simultaneously partner with the Bold Ocean Residency Fund, a micro-fund that we are jointly establishing with our investment partners, Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew, to provide investment capital in each of the portfolio companies within the residency.

Applications for the first cohort will open in 2022.

Launching Bold Ocean Venture Capital Fund:

GMRI is committed to evidence-based, collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to solving complex ocean-related challenges. As part of our five-year Strategic Plan, we included a focus on attracting capital to develop new business models that benefit marine communities. We are launching the Bold Ocean Venture Fund to be a model for a scalable investment platform that is integral to long-term strategy and goals here at GMRI.

Bold Ocean Ventures is currently raising $15 million in investment capital from accredited investors in a limited partnership structure and expects to invest in 8 to 12 companies in the Gulf of Maine region with a focus on Maine companies. The fund, which will be managed by investment partners Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew, will focus on the seafood supply chain and the impact of climate change, investing in seed and early-stage companies where expertise from GMRI adds value. Bringing together unique ocean and climate change expertise and the experience of a veteran venture capital investment team, we will seek to identify investment opportunities that not only produce attractive returns on capital invested but substantially increase mission impact, leading to meaningful market-facing solutions for our ocean ecosystem and regional economy.

Company Pipeline

GMRI has already spun out two successful for-profit companies and is actively helping to accelerate the growth of 35 other seed and early-stage blue-tech companies. As part of our current EDA SPRINT grant, we have sixteen small companies in our program portfolio, more than half of which are Maine-based or aspire to join the blue economy ecosystem by moving their companies here. We have a steady stream of inbound requests for company-building and incubation support that will allow us to build our portfolio over the next three years.

We are building a tiered platform of programs to provide a continuum of care for Blue Economy companies and surrounding them with a team of experts who are knowledgeable about the risks and obstacles that ocean and climate start-ups face (such as fragmented supply chains, lack of shared data, insufficient capital, and operational inefficiencies). Our Blue Economy Initiative serves as a bridge between and among GMRI staff, partners, industry stakeholders and the businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs innovating in the ocean and climate sectors.

Companies interested in engaging with Gulf of Maine Ventures are invited to submit our intake form. We will be in touch with you in 1-2 weeks to set up an introductory call and discuss next steps.

Partner Work

We are building momentum with a number of partner institutions and are in dialogue with several about serving as the primary commercialization platform for our collective blue economy work in the Gulf of Maine. In this capacity, we see a clear path toward widening the breadth of our impact. This is a unique window of opportunity for building the blue economy in Maine, and we occupy a niche early-stage (post-ideation) space for start-ups where we provide the necessary business building, market connections and insights, research and technical capabilities, and access to capital needed to allow them to scale and succeed.

Partner Institutions

We are building strong partnerships within our region around blue economy innovation continues to be a core strategy for us, and we are pleased with our growing relationships with peer institutions to explore potential joint-venture opportunities on the Business Development side. Regional partner organizations include the University of Maine (Darling Marine Center), Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, Bigelow Laboratories, New England Ocean Cluster (NEOC) and the University of New Hampshire, all of whom are aligned to collaborate on the innovation and commercialization of companies within the ocean economy and broader climate sector.

Economic Development Districts

In recognition to the central role that EDDs can and will be playing in the recovery and resilience of our coastal communities, we are convening EDD teams along the Gulf of Maine to share initiatives, strategies, and potential areas of synergy as they relate to the emerging Blue Economy sector.

Scallop Aquaculture Project

We are excited to spread the word about the recently released Scallop Aquaculture Report. This report, authored by Des Fitzgerald, represents six months of in-depth research, and identifies the challenges and opportunities for the growth of scallop farming in Maine. Huge thanks to all those who contributed time, knowledge, scientific and industry expertise to make this report possible (in particular, our partners at the University of Maine and Coastal Enterprises, Inc.).

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