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PORTUGAL BLUE launch Growth Blue I, the first blue economy focused private equity fund in Southern Europe

    Date: 17 March 2023
  • Growth Blue will be funded with €28 million from both national public resources through Fundo Azul, and European resources through the InvestEU Blue Economy instrument
  • The new fund will support the growth and internationalization of leading and sustainable Portuguese companies operating in the value chains of blue economy sectors

Today, the Portuguese Minister of Economy and Maritime Affairs, António Costa Silva, and the Vice President of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB Group), Ricardo Mourinho Félix, jointly announced an investment into Growth Blue I, the second blue economy fund selected under PORTUGAL BLUE and co-invested by the InvestEU Blue Economy instrument.

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

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

The Growth Blue Fund will invest in the SMEs and small Mid Caps, primarily from Portugal and Spain, aiming to support the growth and internationalization of mature blue economy companies with focus on sustainability and climate action.

The fund is targeting a total size of €50 million, including funding from Portugal Blue, InvestEU, and private commitments from strategic institutional investors. Growth Blue Fund aims at investing in 8 to 12 companies with equity and quasi-equity tickets above €1.5 million. The fund has a broad sectorial focus with a preference for companies operating in the value chain of seafood, offshore energy, shipping, ports and blue biotechnology contributing to decarbonization, reducing ocean contamination and conservation of marine ecosystems.

The fund will leverage on the investment experience of Growth Partners Capital SCR, with a dedicated management team led by Miguel Herédia and Juan Jose Rodriguez-Navarro. The manager is a signatory of the UN Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles and it is committed to implement a rigorous Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework to all companies invested by Growth Blue I.

The Minister of Economy and Maritime Affairs, António Costa Silva, welcomes this announcement, stating that “the ocean is part of our past and future. It is, therefore, a strategic bet, and Portugal Blue – whose second fund we are now presenting – represents important investments focused on the blue economy and aligned with the priorities of climate action and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. The first fund aims at investing in start-ups that base their business on innovative deep tech solutions, and that contribute to a positive impact on ocean sustainability and climate action. This second fund will support small and medium-sized Portuguese companies in the food and fish, renewable energy and biotechnology sectors. These funds are certainly important  instruments that reinforce our commitment to blue economy: a commitment aligned with our history, our culture and the enormous potential of our vast ocean.”

“For the EU to maintain its competitive edge in the field of blue and sustainable technologies, it is important to strengthen the financing opportunities for innovative companies in the blue economy. We need to provide them with the support they need to succeed and grow in the European Union and beyond. This is the objective of our BlueInvest initiative and our partnership with the EIB Group to promote financial instruments dedicated to this sector. I therefore welcome the signing today of the Growth Blue I, which is also the first fund signed under the new InvestEU Blue Economy instrument.” added EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius

According to the EIB Vice President, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, “Today we celebrate another milestone in development of the blue economy ecosystem in Portugal and in Europe. The blue economy has the potential to solve many of the global challenges we face today, such as climate change, ocean pollution, and biodiversity loss, and initiatives such as Portugal Blue are critical to attract more capital and create opportunities for sustainable economic growth, while protecting the environment for future generations. We are very pleased to contribute to this new fund and support the growth and internationalization of Portuguese companies that are leading the path in blue economy.”

Miguel Herédia, partner of Growth Blue I, added “Growth Blue is a big achievement for Growth Partners Capital of which we are very proud. With this fund we will be able to implement our investment strategy, supporting the profitable growth of SMEs, and at the same time contribute to a positive and measurable impact in the ocean and consequently in the sustainability of our planet, following our moto of Investing beyond growth. With Growth Blue we intend to show that is possible to achieve economic growth and financial returns and at the same time leave a positive blue print. Having secured EIF and Portugal Blue as an anchor-investors was game changing to us as it gives us additional credibility, having been critical to kick-off the Fund and to attract private investors.”

The commitment to Growth Blue I under PORTUGAL BLUE was announced during an event in Lisbon, in the presence of the President of the Board of Directors of BPF, Maria Celeste Hagatong, and the Deputy Chief Executive of EIF, Roger Havenith.

The fund Growth Blue I 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.

Background information

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 85 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 InvestEU

The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with crucial long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable recovery. It also helps mobilise private investments for the EU’s policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transition. The InvestEU programme brings together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the EU, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The InvestEU Fund is implemented through financial partners that will invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. The entire budget guarantee will back the investment projects of the implementing partners, increase their risk-bearing capacity and thus mobilise at least €372 billion in additional investment. More information about InvestEU equity products here.

About InvestEU Blue Economy instrument

The InvestEU Blue Economy instrument dedicated equity fund for the blue economy (i.e. economic activities based on or related to the oceans, seas and coasts) under the InvestEU Equity product within the InvestEU Fund. This instrument is made possible by an increase of the EU Guarantee by a €140 million top-up contribution from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund matched with additional InvestEU resources and EIF/EIB own funds. It mobilises up to 500 million of additional EU finance until 2027 resulting in up to 1,5 billion of risk-finance made available through intermediaries such as venture capital funds to innovative and sustainable blue economy SMEs and start-ups. The initiative supports research, development, demonstration, upscaling, commercialisation and scaling of clean technologies or environmental sustainability solutions that contribute to EU Green deal objectives. More information about InvestEU Blue Economy instrument here.

Press contacts

Ministry of Economy and Maritime Affairs
Pedro Henriques Gonçalves | Tel.: +351 917 780 643 | email: pedro.goncalves@mem.gov.pt
Website: www.portugal.gov.pt/en/gc23/ministries/economy-and-maritime-affairs

EIB Group
Maite Cordero | Tel.: +34 606 66 82 62 | email: m.corderomunoz@eib.org
Website: www.eib.org/press — Press Office: +352 4379 21000 — press@eib.org

Note: Following the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, we are updating the relevant EIF.org pages.


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