Today, sustainable seafood is an exciting innovation field, with the potential to improve ocean health while ultimately remaking the $390 billion global seafood industry. To name just a few signs of change: Underwater sensors, robots, cameras and big data tools are creating an Internet of Fish. Algae is shedding its green-slime image and becoming a glamorous super-ingredient. Oyster farming is surging back to life as an economic engine and environmental asset. And traceability and transparency solutions are giving seafood buyers a much-needed look at the journey from water to plate.
None of this was happening when we launched Fish 2.0 in 2013. And few saw it coming, given the historically slow rate of change in the seafood industry and its complex, often low-tech global supply chain. We believed, though, that progress would accelerate if we could remove barriers to innovation: neither investors nor entrepreneurs had the knowledge and networks they needed to get promising ideas off the ground and move needed capital into the sector.
Happily, we were right. Now a global network that connects entrepreneurs, investors and experts, Fish 2.0 helped power a steep rise in both the level and pace of innovation in sustainable seafood. It’s also created a perception of the industry as a place where innovators can build thriving companies that deliver environmental and social benefits. And as we built Fish 2.0 over the past seven years, we learned five key lessons that form a framework for jump-starting sustainable innovation in any industry.
1. You get what you design for
Fish 2.0 was designed to create connections: on the surface it was a business competition, but each element under the skin served to bring all the participants together to grow the sustainable seafood sector. Those who give time, expertise, and connections to others are rewarded and invited back.
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