We have made significant progress in 2022, as we continue to grow the Gulf of Maine Ventures initiative at GMRI. Our mission is to catalyze solutions to global ocean challenges by creating, scaling, and investing in innovative Blue Economy companies.
This year we expanded our impact by growing our team, formalizing existing and new partnerships, and increasing our programmatic presence among Blue Economy startups and investors alike. We've laid the foundation for a strong year ahead, where we plan to launch our accelerator program and Bold Ocean Ventures Fund I LP to advance our capacity as advisors and investors to the growing ecosystem here in the Gulf of Maine.
Gulf of Maine Ventures At a Glance
A quick look at our growing team.
Our team nearly doubled again this year as Blaine, Lucy, and Jeff welcomed Megan Banner Sutherland and Eva Green to the team.
Our formalized partnership with investment partners Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew remains as strong as ever.
In addition to GMRI Senior Product Manager Jeff Bate increasing his time supporting the team on new product development within GMRI and external partnership development as it relates to new business ideas, we also added two more GMRI staff to the team. Megan Banner Sutherland, Operations Associate, joined in September to support the operational workflows across teams, and full-time contractor Eva Greene, Investment Associate, joined in October and has been supporting on special projects for Bold Ocean Ventures Fund.
We also established the formal structure for our partnership with investment partners Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew, which includes the establishment of Bold Ocean Ventures I LP. They will be joined on the Fund’s investment committee by Blaine Grimes, CEO of Gulf of Maine Ventures, LLC, the for-profit subsidiary of GMRI.
Funding, startups engaged, and formal partners.
Total Funds Raised
In 2022, new funders included The Builders Initiative, a Congressionally Directed Spending grant, and Maine Technology Institute’s Prime Fund.
Formal Partners Engaged
We are fostering new relationships with partners like UMaine’s Foster Center for Innovation, Downeast Institute, MITRE, Roux Institute, Maine Maritime Academy, among others.
We are building momentum, with several startups already turning to us for support, connections, and a “seal of approval” as the Blue Economy experts in the Gulf of Maine.
In 2022 we strengthened key partnerships that have carried us through from the beginning and forged new relationships throughout the region and beyond. One notable collaboration was the development of an NSF Engines proposal focused on scaling the blue economy innovation ecosystem in Maine and New Hampshire, led by MITRE and in collaboration with UMaine, UNH, Maine Maritime Academy, and the Roux Institute. In the course of developing the proposal concept, we were fortunate to meet with many organizations throughout the region to share the vision and identify areas for collaboration that we can pursue regardless of the proposal outcome.
Economic Development Administration Seafood Sprint
In partnership with SeaAhead, we wrapped up our 18-month Seafood Sprint program funded by the Economic Development Administration to support early-stage companies in the seafood industry that were impacted by the pandemic.
Highlights from the program include:
- Saw 16 early-stage startups participate in the program
- Executed two innovation showcases: six early-stage companies pitched their businesses to audiences of impact investors and regional stakeholders.
- Attracted 19 new angel investors to the space
- Raised $1.3M in total investment capital by companies during the program
- Released an Entrepreneurship in the Blue Economy video series highlighting New England’s emerging blue tech industry through the eyes of several entrepreneurs in the program
- Launched a Blue Economy Facilities Resource Map, which we built to help early-stage blue economy founders and startup companies in the Northeast connect with government, educational, nonprofit, and private sector facility resources and expertise to test, develop, and scale their businesses.
We have 1.5 years remaining on our subsequent Economic Development Administration grant, Build to Scale, where we will continue to operationalize our programming to support early-stage startups ranging from an advisory network to a formal accelerator program.
Launch of BlueTech Accelerator Program
We are gaining traction in the launch of our accelerator program, and we continue to support companies through direct assistance as we make progress. In the year ahead, the BlueTech Residency will expand existing programming for Blue Economy companies at GMRI. We are targeting startups focused on enabling technologies to modernize and decarbonize our ocean economy with a particular focus on the seafood industry, ocean data decisions, and climate mitigation and adaptation.
Each company will receive comprehensive support and guidance for company building, product development, market penetration, networking and fundraising. The BlueTech Residency will be the first program of its kind in Maine to support high-growth, early-stage BlueTech entrepreneurs. It will operate in partnership with a venture capital fund that will provide capital to each founder in exchange for an equity investment.
Impact Through Investment: Bold Ocean Ventures Fund I LP
Led by independent, experienced investment professionals, Brady Bohrmann and Tim Agnew, Bold Ocean Ventures Fund I LP is a first-time venture capital fund created in partnership with Gulf of Maine Ventures, LLC. To achieve our mission, Bold Ocean Ventures Fund I LP will fund companies that contribute to healthy, productive, and sustainable ocean ecosystems by developing innovative solutions to ocean, aquaculture, and climate challenges.
The Fund targets entrepreneurs who are committed to building scalable businesses and making a positive impact, directly or indirectly, on ocean ecosystems or a sustainable seafood economy. By building an investment portfolio of these companies, Bold Ocean Ventures will have a catalytic effect, attracting more early-stage capital and entrepreneurs and fueling a regenerative cycle with more innovation, resources, and partnerships amplifying the Fund’s impact.
The Fund partners with GMRI and leverages our scientific expertise in ocean ecosystems and our direct involvement with waterfront industry and communities in the region. This partnership gives the Fund a strong knowledge base of the needs and challenges facing the regional economy and the benefit of meaningful connections with the community of businesses, educational institutions and researchers that focus on the Gulf of Maine. This partnership benefits both investors and prospective portfolio companies.
In 2022, Bold Ocean Ventures Fund I LP was approved for a lead investment by Builders Vision, a recognized global leader in ocean/climate sustainability impact investment. Building on Builders Vision and other early LP (limited partner) commitments, we are actively filling out the Fund with the goal of beginning to make investments as soon as possible.
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 …
State and city leaders join the fishing community and GMRI staff to celebrate our effort to protect and preserve Union Wharf.