Ecotrust announced today that it is spinning out its marine consulting group into the organization’s second for-profit venture. The new venture, called Point 97, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecotrust. Building on a decade of Ecotrust’s work to support ocean health alongside coastal economies, Point 97 will continue the organization’s mission on a global scale by providing new technologies and engagement strategies for the marine and ocean planning sectors.
“As demands on the ocean rapidly increase, our technology tools and approaches are essential aides for healthy coastal communities and ocean ecosystems ,” says Astrid Scholz, president of Ecotrust. “Spinning out Point 97 into a for-profit entity is the best way to scale our innovations in the marine and coastal sectors.”
Beginning in 2001, Ecotrust’s early collaborations with fishing communities to develop survey and decision making tools were funded through grants and donations. As those tools and approaches became market-worthy, Ecotrust moved toward a consulting fee-for-service model. In recent years, marine consulting has contributed significant revenue back to Ecotrust, to fund the organization’s work in a variety of sectors.
The Point 97 approach and associated technologies have been setting the industry standard for comprehensive coastal planning across the United States and around the world. Currently, Point 97’s data visualization and ocean planning portals are used by regional ocean planning entities in the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and by the West Coast Governor’s Alliance. Mobile solutions to improve fisheries health and management are being used by government and industry in Oregon, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle.
The Point 97 team also served as technology consultants to Oregon’s recent territorial sea planning initiative.
Global trends such as climate change, population growth, offshore energy development, increased seafood consumption, and expanding coastal recreation, as well as a rise in global shipping traffic, are driving market demand for marine and coastal planning services.
“Both the United States and the developing world represent growth markets in marine consulting,” says Ruby Gates, Point 97’s new CEO. “Our company already has solid relationships and extensive networks in the marine world, and a track record of supporting transparent, inclusive decision making by providing the best available data and cutting-edge interactive mapping. We’re poised for growth, as the need for proven marine and coastal solutions is only going to rise.”
A veteran of Portland’s startup scene, Gates founded MarketShift Strategies, an energy management consultancy, in 2006, and Encapsys, Inc., which deploys proprietary energy and production data management technology, in 2011. Her client list in the energy space stretched from the Pacific Northwest to Europe and China. In 2012, she was named a Pivotal Leader in Portland’s cleantech community by Pivotal Investments.
At Point 97, she’ll lead a staff of nine. “Ruby has deep experience in taking technology and consulting startups to scale, and her values align closely with ours,” says Scholz. “She’s a great fit to help us share Ecotrust’s innovative approaches to marine and coastal planning with other parts of the world.”
Incubating and spawning for-profit ventures has proven highly strategic and beneficial for Ecotrust. Ecotrust Forest Management, formed in 2004 and partially owned by Ecotrust, manages over 15,000 acres of forestland on behalf of investors in the Pacific Northwest and employs an ecosystem-based approach to management that balances income from timber, carbon offsets, wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services.
“We are beginning to see a path in which we can fund innovative research and development work through our nonprofit organization and then scale the best ideas in the marketplace,” says Scholz.