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PORTUGAL BLUE approves investment in Faber Blue Pioneers I, the first “deep tech” fund for blue economy and climate action in Iberia

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    Date: 21 October 2021

PORTUGAL BLUE approves investment in Faber Blue Pioneers I, the first “deep tech” fund for blue economy and climate action in Iberia

  • PORTUGAL BLUE is a partnership focused on supporting new blue economy companies through investments in venture capital and private equity funds
  • The first selected fund, Faber Blue Pioneers Fund, invests in early-stage startups developing innovative deep tech solutions for positive impact on ocean sustainability and climate action

Today, the Portuguese Minister of Sea, Ricardo Serrão Santos, and the Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund (EIF), Alain Godard, jointly announced the approval of Faber Blue Pioneers Fund, the first fund selected under PORTUGAL BLUE, in an event closed by the Minister of State for the Economy and the Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira.

Launched in October 2020, PORTUGAL BLUE is a partnership between the EIF – the venture capital arm of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group –, Banco Português de Fomento (BPF) and the Portuguese Government, through Fundo Azul.

The Programme is focused on blue economy investments with climate impact and sustainable development goals. It was created to attract private capital from public and institutional investors into the local blue economy landscape through venture capital and private equity funds managed by Portuguese-based teams.

The Faber Blue Pioneers Fund will invest in the early stages, from pre-seed to series A, of global high potential blue deep-tech startups, primarily from Portugal and Southern Europe, aiming for high positive impact on ocean sustainability and climate action.

The fund is targeting a total size of €30m, including funding from Portugal Blue, as well as private commitments from strategic impact-driven institutional investors like Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos (through its investment arm Movendo Capital), Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Champalimaud Foundation. Faber Blue Pioneers Fund has the ambition of investing in a portfolio of 20-25 early-stage companies developing innovative deep-tech solutions with global ambition, in areas such as blue biotech, food and feed from the ocean, ocean health, ocean intelligence or the decarbonization of multiple industries.

Faber Blue Pioneers Fund will be managed by Faber Capital SCR, namely by a new dedicated investment team led by Rita Sousa and Carlos Esteban as Fund Partners and by Bruno Ferreira as Venture Partner. The team will work closely with a specialized network of expert advisors, including senior strategic advisor Tiago Pitta e Cunha (CEO of Oceano Azul Foundation) and scientific lead advisors Susana Moreira and Joana Moreira da Silva (Science and Innovation Officers of Ciimar) among other scientists, founders and industry experts.

The fund will also leverage Faber Capital’s investment experience and specialist approach in backing high-potential founders with scientific or deep engineering backgrounds. The firm has been an early investor in “hard tech” companies such as Unbabel, Codacy, SWORD Health, iLoF, YData or Abtrace, most recently through Faber Tech II, the Artificial Intelligence & Data focused fund also backed by the EIF and BPF via Portugal Tech.

Commenting on this announcement,

The Minister of State for the Economy and the Digital Transition, Pedro Siza Vieira, welcomes this announcement, stating that “Portugal Blue is a Program that takes into account the country’s geographic position and it’s significant maritime space. It seeks to encourage private investment and attract innovation to activities linked to the sea”. The Minister mentioned that in recent years, Portugal and the EIF have joined efforts and co-invested in various important programs, which are expected to be further enlarged very soon.

The Minister of Sea, Ricardo Serrão Santos also stated: ““We are very excited with this first investment of Portugal Blue, which marks a new stage of maturity of the financing instruments available to the blue economy. I believe that this partnership will have a key role in boosting some of the most promising sectors and projects of the blue economy in Portugal”.

According to the EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard, “The approval of Faber Blue Pioneers Fund as the first deep tech fund for blue economy and climate action in Iberia is an important milestone for the EIF.” The EIB Vice-President, Ricardo Mourinho Félix reinforced this message: “With this commitment, we are confident that Portugal Blue will contribute to strengthen the Portuguese early-stage blue ecosystem.”

The Board Member of Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, José Soares dos Santos, also commented: “At Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, we envision a future in which a healthy ocean is able to coexist with human development. We have no doubt that the ocean will play a key role in humanity’s future and we think it is important to support entrepreneurs and innovative businesses that aim to find solutions to the XXIst century challenges. Our key role in the creation of the Blue Pioneers Fund had that objective in mind. We believe this fund is very well suited to support and foster relevant innovations in this space.”

The approval of the investment in Faber Blue Pioneers Fund under PORTUGAL BLUE was announced during an event in Lisbon, in the presence of the EIB Vice-President, Ricardo Mourinho Felix, the CEO of BPF, Beatriz Freitas, and the representatives from the three main private investors, Sociedade Francisco Manuel dos Santos, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Fundação Champalimaud.

Faber Blue Pioneers Fund is currently in the final process of registration and approval by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) and the team is already screening the first potential investments.

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About the EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is a subsidiary of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment. More info about EIF and its activity here.

About BPF

Banco Português de Fomento is the portuguese national promotional bank. Its mission is to support Portugal’s economic and social development by creating and providing innovative and competitive solutions tailored to the needs and challenges of the business ecosystem, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, enabling investment and job creation, and promoting sustainability and economic, social and territorial cohesion. More info about BPF and its activity here.

About Portugal Blue

Launched in October of 2020, Portugal Blue is the result of a partnership between the European Investment Fund (EIF) - the venture capital arm of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) - the Portuguese Government, through Fundo Azul, and Banco Português de Fomento (BPF).

The Program aims to mobilise over 75 million euros of private, public, and European capital to foster the ecosystem of the Portuguese blue economy, providing venture capital and expansion opportunities to companies at all stages of development. More info about Portugal Blue here.

About Fundo Azul

The Portuguese Fundo Azul, is a governmental fund acting as a financial incentive mechanism for the blue economy in Portugal and it is strategically lead by the Minister of the Sea and Minister of State and Finances. This mechanisms focus specifically on leveraging the Blue Economy, while also incentivizing innovative R&D and promoting safety at sea and maritime surveillance technology and innovation development. More information about Fundo Azul here.

About Faber Capital SCR

"We invest in teams transforming the world with technology."

Faber is a Lisbon-based venture capital firm investing in outstanding entrepreneurs who innovate at the intersection of science and technology to drive digital transformation and climate action. The firm combines a specialist focus on deep tech early stage startups with dedicated funds, investment teams and expert advisors to actively help founders build global companies powered by AI/data or climate/ocean technologies.

Faber’s unique approach in Southern Europe is led by an entrepreneurial management partnership and backed by notable thesis-driven institutions and private investors. Investing since 2013, the firm has been an early investor in hard tech companies such as Unbabel, SWORD Health, Codacy, iLoF or YData. More info about Faber here.

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Lorenzo Squintani, tel.: +352 691 285 772, l.squintani@eib.org

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