Sale Accelerates Growth and Scaling of Innovative Fisheries Monitoring Company: Transaction Represents Successful First Launch and Exit by GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Ventures
PORTLAND, Maine — June 30, 2021 — On Tuesday, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), a non-profit research institute that pioneers collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges, announced the sale of New England Marine Monitoring, Inc. (NEMM) to Vesper Company, a private firm that partners with entrepreneurs to help scale their businesses through technology investment and acquisitions.
NEMM is a leader in video electronic monitoring technology and services for fisheries, delivering accurate and scalable monitoring solutions for fishing vessels. Vesper Company will provide NEMM with significant new investment to grow its service to New England’s fishing fleet and develop its technology platform. NEMM’s founder and CEO, Mark Hager, will continue to lead the company. The sale represents a successful first exit for GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Ventures initiative, which is focused on mission-driven business development.
NEMM’s Innovative Electronic Monitoring (EM) Offering
New England Marine Monitoring uses innovative technologies to provide reliable, cost-effective and scalable fisheries monitoring solutions that serve the fishing industry, inform fishery managers, and support stewardship of the ocean ecosystem. NEMM’s technology solutions lower the cost of monitoring relative to traditional human at-sea monitors and vastly improve data quality. NEMM has been a pioneer in electronic monitoring through its commitment to developing and implementing artificial intelligence solutions to drive efficiency improvements and develop new products and services for fisheries. NEMM’s staff’s technical expertise and deep experience with on-the-water data collection allows them to best serve New England’s commercial fishing fleets.
“Providing the best customer experience and collecting better data are core to NEMM’s operations,” said Hager. “The NEMM vision goes beyond meeting regulatory monitoring needs and is focused on using technology to enable data-driven, ocean-based decision making. I am thankful for GMRI’s support as we created NEMM to serve the region’s fishing fleet. Going forward, Vesper Company’s depth of resources will support NEMM’s continued growth across service delivery and technology enhancement.”
GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Ventures Initiative
In 2020, GMRI launched their Gulf of Maine Ventures initiative in order to support and grow the region’s waterfront economy and ocean technology markets through the incubation, acceleration, and funding of new for-profit business ventures that address the challenges facing the Gulf of Maine region and the globe.
NEMM is one of Gulf of Maine Ventures’ first ventures, originating from within GMRI as a business concept developed by Hager, based on his work on fisheries data as a GMRI staff member prior to the company’s launch. The institute incorporated the company as a wholly-owned subsidiary to support its early-stage incubation and growth.
“Gulf of Maine Ventures leverages GMRI’s technical and market expertise with business support services and investment capital to drive the growth of business ventures that further GMRI’s mission to support the prosperity and sustainability of the ocean and coastal communities in Maine and the North Atlantic,” said Blaine Grimes, Chief Ventures Officer at GMRI, who oversees the Gulf of Maine Ventures initiative. “Having successfully launched NEMM and stewarded it through the pandemic, we’re excited to have NEMM move to the next level with an experienced partner that will provide tech and financial support to help NEMM quickly scale up. The opportunity to leverage private sector investment to grow this mission-driven business is exactly the kind of outcome we want for the promising young companies GMRI is and will be shepherding.”
Throughout the Gulf of Maine region, a burgeoning group of entrepreneurial, marine-focused businesses are focused on delivering solutions that are essential to global competitiveness in the blue economy, to climate adaptation, and to resiliency. However, despite the growing recognition of the economic potential of science-based ocean solutions and the need for blue innovation, investors have been slow to deploy capital in the space, and startups and scale-up businesses have limited access to content expertise and financing opportunities. GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Ventures seeks to meet these needs.
“Our experience and expertise put GMRI in a unique position to apply our knowledge, industry networks, and action-oriented research capabilities to create a platform for positioning investment capital where it can generate strong financial and mission returns on investment,” continued Grimes.
Vesper Investment to Enable NEMM’s Continued Strong Growth
Vesper Company was founded by a team of growth-oriented investors and operators to be an active partner to entrepreneurs as they grow and scale their businesses. Vesper Company helps its partners transform industries and build better solutions for customers by investing in technology and partnerships.
“We were excited by the prospects for electronic monitoring and data science in the fisheries industry from our first meeting with Mark Hager and GMRI. Mark is a thought-leader in the electronic monitoring space, and he and his team are passionate about solving problems to improve the effectiveness of marine resource management and deliver value-added tools and services to commercial fisheries,” said David Caro and Shamit Grover of Vesper Company. Raj Gopal of Vesper Company added, “GMRI supported the growth of NEMM through a multi-year investment in building an outstanding team and technology solutions for video electronic monitoring and data collection. We look forward to expanding NEMM’s capabilities and services for the New England fishing industry and also to continuing our work with the rapidly growing startup and tech community in Maine.”