The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Fund, part of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB), to launch a €75-million equity investment fund for the blue economy (BlueInvest Fund).
The BlueInvest Fund will be managed by the European Investment Fund and will provide financing to underlying equity funds that strategically target and support the innovative blue economy.
This sector could play an important role in the transformation to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, an ambition announced in the European Green Deal.
The new programme is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
The blue economy includes economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts. It ranges from companies in the marine environment to land-based businesses producing goods or services that contribute to the maritime economy.
The blue economy is said to harbour many promising early-stage ventures and companies – often emanating from EU-funded R&D programmes. These companies develop solutions for renewable energy, sustainable seafood, blue biotechnology, maritime IT and much more.
The new fund is complemented by the European Commission’s BlueInvest platform, which supports investment readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups.
Through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Commission also funds an additional €40 million grant scheme, to help blue economy SMEs with developing and bringing to market new innovative and sustainable products, technologies and services.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans & Fisheries, said: “Oceans are the first in line to be hit by climate change, but they also hold many solutions to tackle climate emergency in every single marine industry, from fisheries and aquaculture, to offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, blue biotechnology and many other innovation-related fields. A €75 million equity investment fund is a tool to unlock the potential the blue economy holds both in contributing to the European Green Deal and ensuring economic growth of European SMEs developing innovative and sustainable products and services.”
EIB vice president, Emma Navarro, responsible for the Blue Economy, said:“Oceans are vital for life on Earth. But oceans are under threat and need to be protected. This is why we are developing innovative financing solutions to support the Blue economy. Solutions that allow us to provide financing for protecting the oceans and to turn the seas into a sustainable economic resource. The BlueInvest fund that we are launching today will give an important contribution to mobilize private investments to this sector and to get critical projects off the ground. It marks another important partnership between the EIF and the European Commission. ”
EIF chief executive, Alain Godard, said: “The oceans provide huge potential for economic growth, but this growth needs to be sustainable. The investments in the Blue Economy sector we signed today show how public funds in the EU can be deployed to attract private investment and catalyse the development of this sector. I am delighted that we can now launch the BlueInvest fund which combined with additional private capital will help to drive Europe’s Blue Economy agenda.”
“For the past few years, the ocean energy sector has been calling for an equity fund to help more demonstration projects reach financial close. Ocean Energy Europe is extremely happy to see the European Commission’s DG MARE once again delivering on support for ocean energy. This new ‘fund of funds’ will play an important role in putting machines in the water and generating jobs in this new European industry,” said Rémi Gruet CEO of Ocean Energy Europe.