Six seafood innovators capped the Fish 2.0 Competition Finals & Sustainable Seafood Innovation Forum in Palo Alto on Wednesday by earning cash prizes and top scores in their categories from the competition’s investor-judges. The winners are bringing to market creative approaches to key challenges in aquaculture, building consumer demand for sustainable seafood, reducing waste and supporting local fishing communities.
In the pre-revenue startup category (Track A), the top-scoring business demonstrating the strongest market potential was Kampachi Farms Mexico, an open ocean aquaculture business focused on growing sashimi-grade fish. The top-scoring business with the greatest potential for social and environmental impact was Nova Scotia–based SabrTech, whose RiverBox system provides algae-based aquaculture feed using waste streams from fish farms.
In the post-revenue early stage category (Track B), two businesses targeting millennials took the cash prizes: Salty Girl Seafood, a California-based packaged seafood company that sells portioned and premarinated sustainable fish, was the top-scoring business demonstrating the strongest market potential. Bureo, a California- and Chile-based venture that upcycles used fishing nets to create high-quality skateboards and sunglasses, was the top-scoring business with the greatest potential for social and environmental impact.
In the growth-stage category (Track C), the judges recognized both of the top-scoring companies as impact leaders: Alaska Community Seafood Hub, which supplies local seafood to Alaskans using a community-supported fishery model and wholesale sales, and ALFA Fishing of Vanuatu, which generates income for rural youth and urban women through supplying fresh seafood to both high-end restaurants and low-income households.
“The sophistication of the businesses here has really improved since the first competition in 2013,” said Margot Kane, vice president, strategy at the Calvert Foundation and a judge on the Tracks B and C panels. “The field is growing, and Fish 2.0 helps entrepreneurs learn to talk about their businesses in a way that grabs investors’ attention. I was particularly impressed by the community-based models and how they’ve advanced, as well as by the transnational models and the businesses that can show impact throughout their supply chain.”
Prizes include $30,000 cash, $195,000 in services
Each winner received a $5,000 cash prize. They and the other 31 businesses competing at the finals are also eligible for Professional Service Awards ($150,000 total, plus an additional $45,000 for Pacific Islands businesses) and Open Door Prizes, which provide unparalleled access to top-level industry buyers and analysts, training and other connections. These prizes will be announced by mid-December.
“This is great recognition,” said Norah Eddy, co-founder of Salty Girl Seafood. “We’re blown away. Our team is really excited. The impact in our track was so impressive, we were honored to be up there with our colleagues.”
For Alfred Kalontas, CEO of ALFA Fishing, “Coming around the world was more than worth it. I founded my business with a mission. I was trying to build up a brand, to build up a team, create transparency and build an ethical business. I was on my own. This helped me mold it, as if in the palm of my hand.”
Mather Carscallen, CEO of SabrTech, said winning meant “acknowledgment by one of the foremost communities in one of the most up-and-coming industries around the globe.”
The 18 finalists and 19 runners-up presenting at the Competition Finals rose to the top from an original pool of 170 applicants. It wasn’t easy—they competed with a group of exceptionally promising entrepreneurs through a rigorous four-phase process that challenged them to sharpen their value propositions, tackle weaknesses and measure their impacts. At least five judges scored each competitor that reached the finals. Panels of investor-judges chose the cash-prize winners based on the finalists’ five-minute pitches and eight-minute question-and-answer sessions.
Audience chooses top runners-up
The runners-up delivered 90-second pitches at the Competition Finals. The audience of investors and seafood experts chose Love the Wild (Colorado) and Pelagic Data Systems (California) in Track A, GrowUp Urban Farms (England) in Track B and Geomar (Chile) in Track C as the businesses in each track that they most wanted to follow up with.
“The companies presenting at Fish 2.0 represent the true diversity of the industry—the scale, the species and the geography,” said Joe Hankins, vice president at The Conservation Fund and a judge on the Track A panel. “There’s an appropriate type of capital for each one, and the brilliance of this competition is that it brings us all together to find the right match.”
About 250 investors, business leaders and seafood experts attended the Finals event at Stanford University. They and the competitors reflected the global reach of the competition: the applicant pool included businesses from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, the Pacific and Oceania. The group that made it to the Competition Finals was similarly diverse, with 17 businesses based in the U.S. (including two with operations in Chile), six in Canada, four in Latin America, five in the South Pacific, two in Europe and three in Southeast Asia.
“More and more people are recognizing the need for innovation in the sustainable seafood field, and the tremendous opportunities for markets and impacts in the industry,” said Fish 2.0 founder and executive director Monica Jain. “The demand for Fish 2.0 is enormous—it’s limited only by our ability to get the word out. As our network grows, so does the number of investors and businesses that want to collaborate to advance sustainable seafood.”
About Fish 2.0
Fish 2.0 is a business competition that connects sustainable fishing and aquaculture companies with potential investors. Our goal is to grow the number of businesses and investors in the sustainable seafood sector. Competitors improve their business models and learn how to approach investors, while investors gain early access to new deals and learn how sustainable seafood can help build their portfolios. Find out more about the competition process and prizes at www.fish20.org.
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?
But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?
The Big Picture
The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.
That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.
One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.
As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.
Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.
Make and Model of Car
Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.
On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.
The Bottom Line
Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?
Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
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