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ImpactAssets 50: A Global Landscape of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50) is the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers.
https://www.impactassets.org/impactassets-50

ImpactAssets 50

An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers

Aqua-Spark

Total Assets Under Management: $100 – 499M
Asset Class: Private Equity
Primary UN Sustainable Development Goal: 14 – Life Below Water
Nutrition, Health and Wellness
Natural Resources and Conservation
Sustainable Agriculture

Firm Overview

Category: Private Equity - Growth Stage (Emerging)

Aqua-Spark is an investment fund based in the Netherlands and fully dedicated to investing in sustainable aquaculture. We are building an ecosystem of sustainable aquaculture SME's across the value chain and across geographies. Goal is to invest in 60-80 sustainable aquaculture companies in 10 years time. We invest in alternative feed solutions, farming, technology, disease treatments and market access. The investments will benefit from each other and from the larger network of experts and partners. With this portfolio approach we help strengthen the framework for a sustainable aquaculture industry and create solid, long-term partnerships where all parties have an incentive to stay a good partner over time.

Firm Headquarters: Western Europe
Years of Operation: 5 – 9 years
Total Assets Under Management:
$100 – 499M
Total Number of Investors: More than 25
% of Capital from Top 3 Investors: 25% – 49%
Investment Thesis:

Our mission is to show investors that you can have healthy, sustainable aquaculture with at least comparable returns to the traditional industry.

Investment Overview:

Our mission is to show investors that you can have healthy, sustainable aquaculture with at least comparable returns to the traditional industry. Investments in best in class farming operations make up the core of the ecosystem. These are operations that farm fish, shellfish or aquatic plants in an ecologically responsible way, with holistic systems designed to optimize productivity. These farms are an example of aquaculture that has little impact on the environment, is efficient, healthy, lower risk and commercially viable. In adding to the ecosystem we look for investments that offer solutions to industry challenges and companies that will add value to other portfolio companies. Solving the feed issue is a top priority. We would like to see an aquaculture industry that does not rely on wild-caught fish meal and fish oil or soy-based feeds. We are exploring insects, algae and single cell proteins as more sustainable feed options. Another solution that has a place in the ecosystem is an antibiotic-free and chemical-free way to battle disease. We are committed to developing transparency in the aquaculture industry and are exploring technologies that track farming procedures and brand solutions that communicate that information. This is an evolving ecosystem with a long-term view, and we need a long-term solution that works. 90% of capital will be invested in aquaculture ventures that have proof of concept and are ready to scale, 10% of capital in riskier, early stage investments. Target companies that can pay out dividends within 5-7 years of investment.

Company Differentiator:

The fund is building an ecosystem of sustainable aquaculture SMEs across the value chain, such as sustainable feed alternatives, antibiotic-free farming, innovative technologies, disease battling and market access. With this unique portfolio ecosystem approach, the fund strives to create solid, long-term partnerships where all parties have an incentive to help strengthen the framework for a sustainable aquaculture industry to realize effective and lasting impact results. Aqua-Spark has an attractive fund structure (i.e., open-ended, liquidity feature), strong impact thesis and works with an extensive network of experts, investors and aligned partners.  

Investment Example

eFishery is tackling one of the largest challenges in aquaculture. Overfeeding negatively impacts the environment, harms the health of a farmer's stock, plus feeding eats up between 50 and 80 percent of all overhead costs in the business. This Indonesian IoT startup developed a cloud-based smart-feeding technology to ensure the fish are healthy and waste minimized - to increase feed efficiency by 24%. It also collects data from feeding, production, water quality and fish behaviour, to create valuable predictive insights for (smallholder) farmers.

Leadership and Team

Cumulative Leadership Experience in Investing:
20 – 29 years
Cumulative Impact Experience of Top Three Firm Leaders:
20 – 29 years
Mike Velings – Founder & Managing Partner More Info

A lifelong entrepreneur, Mike has spent decades jumpstarting a range of successful businesses. Among other ventures, he co-founded Connexie, which has helped catalyze a professional employment industry across the Netherlands. In addition, as a very active investor, he has helped build tens of different companies in a vast array of sectors, from software to fintech to organic farming. He believes in the potential for business to create durable solutions to complex world problems. In 2011 he started dreaming up a way to transform the aquaculture industry through the right type of investment and in 2014 Mike officially launched Aqua-Spark, the first fund dedicated to sustainable aquaculture. With Aqua-Spark Mike sits on the Boards of Calysta, Proteon, Protix, Sogn Aqua, Chicoa, Indian Ocean Trepang and Cryoocyte, where his focus is growth, strategy, and furthering sustainability.

Amy Novogratz – Founder & Managing Partner More Info

Amy brings almost two decades of experience in fostering collaborative solutions to some of the world’s big challenges. From helping to start the Social Policy Action Network, bringing together policy makers, academics, journalists and grassroots organizations to tackle pressing social policy issues, to developing and producing Chat the Planet, a web and television entity that bridged young people globally and to serving as director of the TED Conference’s annual TED Prize for almost a decade, leading more than twenty global collaborations across a broad spectrum of sectors, including healthcare, education, science, technology, conservation, art, and activism. With TED, her list of notable projects include: Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue, Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution, JR’s Inside Out Project, and Bono’s One.org among others.

Frank van Roest – Investment Director More Info

Frank heads the Investment team at Aqua-Spark. He joined the fund in early 2015, just as the first investments were being made, and spent three years as a lead investment Manager. Frank sits on the board of Matorka on behalf of Aqua-Spark. Prior to Aqua-Spark, Frank was an associate at Stichting de Verre Bergen, a Rotterdam-based Venture Philanthropy Fund. Frank received a Master in Business Administration and a Master in International Economics & Business from the University of Groningen. Frank has a passion for travel. He believes that business solutions play a key role in solving complex social, environmental and economic world problems.

Percentage of Investment Professionals who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
50% or more
Percentage of Management Team who are Women and/or Under-Represented Groups in Firm's Geographic Focus:
50% or more

Financial Performance

Target Financial Returns Relative to Benchmark:
Market Rates
Actual Performance Relative to Target Financial Returns in the Past Three Years:
In line with initial target returns
Financial Reporting Frequency to Investors or Donors
Annually

Impact Performance

Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
100%
Primary Impact Outcomes:
Conserving land, ecosystems and natural resources
Other: Food Security and Ocean Conservation
Secondary Impact Outcomes:
Alleviating poverty
Creating jobs
Value-added Services Offered:
Access to markets
Other: Access to Affordable Sustainable Feed Ingredients and Innovative New Technologies

Investments systematically target companies where social and/or environmental impact is integral to the product/service being created:

All of the companies Aqua-Spark invests in must have sustainability 'in their DNA'. This needs to be an integral part of their company and operations. In addition to screening companies on more standard metrics like product, market, growth potential, team, financials, risks, etc., we screen for environmental sustainability criteria. Since we invest over the whole aquaculture value chain, sustainability metrics for screening potential investments depend a little bit on the type of company we are dealing with. When it comes to farming operations, we select on the type of species (for example species that are endangered in the wild, or, species that can have a significant impact on food security), method (net-pen, land-based, etc.), type of sh feed, sh meal and sh oil inclusion, feed conversion ratio, site selection, water usage,

waste, etc.

Upstream companies like feed ingredient producers and technology providers are selected to enhance sustainable practices of the aquaculture industry at large, whereas downstream companies are selected on the basis that they can help raising consumer awareness around sustainable aquaculture. Ultimately companies t our ecosystem of companies. After thorough due diligence and consulting our broad expert network on all of the above mentioned and more, we decide whether or not to invest. If we decide to invest, we sign a shareholder's agreement with both the investee and co-investors (if any) that includes Aqua-Spark's "Shared Values Manifesto". This manifesto lays out our principles on environmental and social sustainability to safeguard and monitor that our portfolio companies will continue to strive for maximum environmental and social responsibility.

Investments systematically include social and environmental sustainability practices in the due diligence process:

In both deal sourcing and due diligence, our team evaluates internal sustainability and responsible working practices, as well as issues of economic and gender equality. As an example, one of the companies we are investing in is a farming operation in Africa. From the early stages of engaging with the company, we looked closely at working conditions, employee benefits, environmental practices, and local ownership, among other areas of intra-firm sustainability. Ensuring that companies internally comply with these kinds of standards is an integral part of our deal process.

Impact Tracking and Monitoring

Impact is Tracked:
Yes
Social and/or Environmental Impact is Reported to Investors and Donors:
Yes – to investors and donors
Third Party Validations:
Participant on steering committees or leadership roles within impact industry associations
Publisher or contributor to industry white paper or other research in impact investing
None

Learn More

Key Contact Name: Stephanie Rakels
Phone: +31 (0)30 8200369
Mailing Address:

Achter St-Pieter 5, 3512HP, Utrecht, the Netherlands

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