Investing in Ocean Solutions
Investing in Ocean Solutions
Schmidt Marine Technology Partners is a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation that supports the development of ocean technologies with compelling conservation and research applications, as well as strong commercialization potential. We do that by providing scaled funding for development work, and related business support in areas such as legal, accounting, and communications. Our goal is to tailor assistance to the needs of each group to help them move their ideas across the dreaded "Valley of Death" and be ready for a sustainable level of paying contracts, licensing, or more traditional investments.
We created this “venture philanthropy” model to fill an often-fatal gap in support available for the development of ocean technologies, which typically require something beyond traditional grants in order to achieve full potential and availability. Ultimately, our philanthropic funding, in combination with our market-based approach, helps address complex ocean issues.
We are happy to support academic researchers interested in spinning out a company, a start-up working out of a garage, or anyone else working on an innovative idea with the potential for significant impact. Currently, we are working mainly with groups that we contact directly. However, if you believe you are working on an idea that could fit our model, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a one-paragraph description—not a proposal. We review projects on a rolling basis, so there are no deadlines. If your work falls within our purview, we will contact you for more details.
We remain as flexible as possible in the types of projects we support so that we will be able to champion the best ideas wherever they are found. Current areas of interest include—though are not limited to—ocean sensors, coral reef health, reducing marine plastic pollution, advancing ocean research, and innovative ways to address illegal fishing. We are not currently funding projects related to renewable energy, shipping efficiency, geoengineering, aquaculture, or oil-spill clean up.
As our program grows, we hope to act as a networking and information hub for the marine technology field. If you are an individual or organization interested in collaborating with us in fostering a new generation of ocean innovation, please send us a note.
Mark is Schmidt Marine's Program Director, applying skills developed as both a scientist and writer to the identification and evaluation of promising marine technologies. He began his career studying deep ocean carbon cycling at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, after receiving a B.S. in biology from Wake Forest University, and an M.S. in chemical oceanography from Florida State University. In 1999, after completing the Science Communications program at UC Santa Cruz, he converted to ocean-focused journalism and outreach. Mark’s articles, often including his own photos, have appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Popular Science, Outside, The New York Times, and other publications. He has consulted for clients such as the Scripps Research Institute, Sea Grant, The Living Oceans Foundation, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, and Yale University. Wearing various hats, he has worked on over a dozen research vessels on expeditions around the world.
Michael works as a program analyst for Schmidt Marine, analyzing new ocean technology solutions to see whether they are economically viable and environmentally beneficial. He attended University of California, Berkeley and received a B.A. in integrative biology. Michael previously worked as a financial systems analyst at the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a sister non-profit entity of Schmidt Marine. Michael is particularly interested the prevention of plastic pollution as well as the development of inexpensive sensors for research.
Jake works as a program analyst for Schmidt Marine, helping to research and analyze economically viable solutions to complex ocean health problems. A San Francisco native, Jake graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in international relations with a global environment emphasis, and a minor in English. As an undergraduate, Jake interned at then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's Capitol Hill office, covering environmental issues. He has a background working at in the intersection between economics and sustainability, and is passionate about preventing bycatch and restoring coral reefs.
Don is President and CEO of Challenger Biosciences, an R&D services company founded by Don in 2009 to help clients build enduring new ventures that benefit the sea. Originally a marine biologist and faculty member at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, Don shifted his professional focus more than two decades ago to concentrate on the advancement of scientifically-based innovations. Over the course of his career, he has worked with hundreds of new products and emerging companies, including several that eventually went public and attained market capitalizations exceeding $1 billion. Don is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and holds a doctorate in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a consultant with Schmidt Marine providing business development support to program grantees and others working to advance promising marine technologies.
Below is a selection of the technology projects Schmidt Marine supports, organized according to our four focus areas.
Enabling Ocean Research:
Marine Plastic Pollution: