Schmidt Marine launches new $3.5 million global fisheries technology initiative
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners will offer up to $3.5 million in funding annually to entrepreneurs and others developing new technologies that increase the sustainability of fisheries around the world. The effort is also being funded by two anonymous philanthropic groups.
Tens of millions of jobs around the world are dependent on fisheries, and healthy fisheries are critical to the health of the world’s ocean and food security. “Fisheries challenges are often complex, and many of the greatest threats to the world’s fisheries are challenges of politics, human behavior, and information deficits,” said Mark Schrope, Schmidt Marine’s director, “But we believe that some of these challenges can and should be addressed through improved technologies.”
Fishing, fisheries science, and fisheries conservation are rife with conflict, controversy, and complications. But fisheries can become more sustainable with new and improved tools, ranging from new types of fishing gear or gear improvements, to new methods of gathering fisheries-related data, to the application of existing tools in new ways.
“Ocean technology is at a critical point. While in many ways ocean health is declining rapidly, current technological capabilities make it possible to envision—to a greater extent than ever before—new ways to enable substantial improvements,” said Schrope, “And there are numerous success stories that we can celebrate and learn from.”
In recent years, there has been a rise in ocean technology investors. But, whether in a university, non-profit, or for-profit, technology developers need considerable early-stage support to develop their concepts so that they reach the investment stage or otherwise make their technology widely available. This initiative will provide that initial support.
The massive scope of the work needed to improve the state of the world’s fisheries suggests that numerous new ideas and companies will need to develop and expand in the coming years. Schmidt Marine will commit $2 million in new funding for fisheries technologies per year, and its partners will contribute up to an additional $1.5 million.
Schmidt Marine funds groups at a variety of stages, but prioritizes support to projects in the earliest stages of development, when funding is most difficult to obtain. Schmidt Marine traditionally commits to fund a project for several years until it has reached financial stability through traditional investment or contracts and sales. Individual grants typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 per year, and to date the program has funded more than 60 technologies focused on ocean health.
What We Are Looking For
While the initiative does not have a specific regional focus, Schmidt Marine is seeking technologies that have the potential to enable improvements in multiple regions, especially areas where management and monitoring resources are most limited. Selected projects will reflect a strong understanding of the political structures of target deployment regions. They should be well grounded in both the realities of fishing and fisheries science and management, and in the case of new gear or gear improvements, should offer benefits to fishermen that make adoption feasible. The initiative also encourages applications from individuals and groups who do not typically work on ocean issues, such as companies with technologies for other applications that offer potential in fisheries. University researchers, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies, including commercial fishing groups, are all eligible to apply.
Though other ideas will be considered, the primary focus will be on:
- New or improved methods and tools for fisheries data collection, especially those enabling fisheries stock assessments. Of particular interest are technologies that offer the potential for low-cost, reliable, and efficient deployment even in remote areas.
- Creative methods and new collaborations to substantially expand capabilities for analyzing fisheries data sets to increase the sustainability of fisheries through reduction of overfishing, prevention of illegal fishing, or creation of premium sustainable markets.
- Fishing gear or gear modifications that reduce bycatch, derelict gear, and/or habitat destruction, or that increase fishermen safety or the survival rates of discarded catch. Such technologies should offer benefits to fishermen or other characteristics that open plausible paths for adoption.
- Tools that enable improved fishing ground and protected area monitoring to prevent situations where good players are penalized and illegal players profit.
Rather than outline specific projects, Schmidt Marine’s goal is to connect with groups already working in these areas or on technologies that might be repurposed as solutions to fisheries problems. Members of an advisory panel and additional outside experts will review proposals. The ideas that will rank highest will be market-based solutions that are impressively creative but also economically viable, reflecting a clear understanding of the barriers to, and opportunities for, wide voluntary adoption.
Details about how to apply for the new funding initiative are available at at our proposals portal. Initial applications are due by May 20, 2022. Applications are welcome from any country. Recipients of the funding will be announced in November 2022.
For additional information please contact us at [email protected]
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners was established in 2015 as a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation to support scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in developing technologies that restore ocean health. The Schmidt Family Foundation was established in 2006 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet by partnering with communities around the world in working for renewable energy, resilient food systems, healthy oceans and the protection of human rights.
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners is part of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Network that includesThe Schmidt Family Foundation, Schmidt Futures, 11th Hour Project, Schmidt Ocean Institute , 11th Hour Racing and Remain Nantucket.