‘Ghost gear’ buster secures £250k CIOSIF funding to turn ocean waste into sunglasses

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‘Ghost gear’ buster secures £250k CIOSIF funding to turn ocean waste into sunglasses

A Newquay based social enterprise working to turn ocean waste into useable products has secured £250,000 of growth finance from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). The funding will be used for marketing, product development, equipment and to create new jobs.

While working as a marine scientist in locations across the globe, Waterhaul Founder and CEO Harry Dennis witnessed ‘ghost gear’ – fishing equipment and nets that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded – on every shoreline. On realising the qualities that make the nets such a problem in the ocean – their durability, strength and abundance – are also highly desirable in a raw material, he set about turning this problem into a resource.

The result is a business that collects fishing nets by hand from Cornwall’s coastline for recycling into a range of beach conservation accessories and high-quality eyewear.

Harry said: “At Waterhaul we produce premium-quality sunglasses that come with a lifetime guarantee. We’re proud of this but what matters more is our purpose. We’ve made great progress collecting and repurposing nets over the last three years but to have a material impact on the volume of ghost gear in our oceans and on our shores, we need to grow and increase capacity. The CIOSIF loan is crucial to this growth. As a young business with insufficient track record for many lenders, we are grateful to be working with a projection-led finance provider who understands our mission and is willing to back our potential.”

Waterhaul’s expansion plans include a move to new premises where they can undertake more of the currently outsourced processes in-house, as well as creating their own glasses designs and expanding their product range. They are already supplying major retailers including Glasses Direct and Vision Express, and B2B channels will be a focus for further growth. And with nets in abundant supply, production of recycled plastic will exceed Waterhaul’s need for its own products so in the future they will look to supply this high-quality material to other brands wishing to create a more sustainable offering.

Tim Williams, Investment Manager at appointed CIOSIF Fund Manager, The FSE Group, commented: “Waterhaul is an impressive business that is already making great headway in a sector close to Cornwall’s heart. Their commercial acumen is grounded by a desire to bring about real change. A hands on business model keeps them connected to Waterhaul’s core purpose, and their expansion plans reflect the ambition to tackle a huge environmental issue head on. We are delighted to be supporting this ambitious business in an exciting phase of its development.”

Waterhaul was introduced to CIOSIF by Oxford Innovation’s Access to Finance Cornwall team in Redruth. John Whittaker, Business Finance Specialist at Access to Finance, added: “We worked closely with Harry to identify the funding requirement and then to help produce a robust and dynamic financial model that would strengthen the CIOSIF funding application. We are thrilled to have been able to support Waterhaul in securing the finance needed to grow and look forward to working with the CIOSIF team on future introductions.”

The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region. It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Sarah Newbould, Senior Investment Manager from the British Business Bank, said: “The fund is starting to build a portfolio of environmentally focused Cornish businesses that are committed to sustainability, and Waterhaul is another excellent example of that. It also shows how the fund can support young businesses that may not have the trading track record to satisfy other lenders.”

LEP director John Acornley, and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Waterhaul is showing how Cornish businesses really are leading the way when it comes to the circular economy. They take one of the most common and potentially lethal forms of plastic pollution in our oceans and transform it into everyday products with a lifetime warranty. We look forward to seeing their next stage of growth.”

CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk  or follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2

For further details about Waterhaul, please visit https://waterhaul.co or follow on Instagram @waterhaul_co

Waterhaul