Davos 2019 - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

Sustainable Ocean Alliance Announces $1.5M in funding and releases First State of Our Ocean Annual Report

Funding will accelerate 100 ocean startups by 2021
SOA Founder & CEO Daniela Fernandez Available for one-on-one interviews in Davos

January 23, 2019, Davos – Switzerland – Today, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), a global non-profit organization that advances the impact of young ocean leaders, announced a $1.5 million donation from Marc and Lynne Benioff. SOA made the announcement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which takes place from January 22 to January 25, 2019.

Founded by Daniela V. Fernandez, Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is the world’s largest coalition of young leaders (under 35) that focuses on developing solutions to protect and rehabilitate the ocean. “This generous gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff will help further our goal of transforming brilliant ideas into revenue-generating ventures that can scale and have a positive impact on the health and sustainability of our planet,” said Fernandez.

The ocean is facing a multitude of threats due to warming temperatures, ocean acidification from increased carbon emissions, overfishing, and other detrimental human activities. Since life on earth cannot be sustained without the critical role the ocean plays in our climate system, the need to preserve and rehabilitate the ocean is dire.

To coincide with the announcement of the funding, SOA is releasing its first State of Our Ocean Annual Report at Davos. The report will be an annual assessment of the health of our ocean, based on the analysis of SOA young leaders and ocean experts. In launching this report at the start of the year, it is hoped that SOA will be able to not only diagnose the challenges facing our ocean, but also set a direction for government and business leaders to align behind for the ocean. The State of Our Ocean report is available on the SOA website: www.soalliance.org/Davos2019

Fernandez believes that by providing young leaders with education, resources, and opportunities, they will create a measurable impact on our ocean and become integral forces of change.

“Our oceans are in grave danger, due to the many consequences of climate change and pollution. These challenges can be solved with investment and innovation,” said Marc Benioff. “Lynne and I are proud to support Daniela Fernandez and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s bold vision to create 100 new startups by 2021 to help heal the ocean.”

The Benioffs’ contribution will triple the number of startups that are selected to participate in SOA’s second annual Ocean Solutions Accelerator program, taking place during the summer of 2019 in San Francisco. The startups will receive mentorship from leading experts in the Silicon Valley, present to investors and philanthropists at SOA’s Ocean Tech Demo Day on August 15, 2019, and have the opportunity to be featured at a series of major international summits on the ocean.

SOA is also pleased to unveil key partners that are supporting SOA’s efforts of raising the profile of the ocean globally through media, exploration, education and entrepreneurship. OceanX, a Dalio Philanthropies initiative to explore the ocean with scientists and researchers and bring it back to the world through captivating media, is joining forces with SOA to inspire and engage the next generation of ocean leaders. Monterey Bay Aquarium, a California-based aquarium that inspires conservation of the ocean, will also be supporting SOA and is excited to build a partnership going into 2019.

As part of the program finale, SOA in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions will host the Ocean Solutions Accelerator At Sea, an 8-day expedition aboard the National Geographic Quest exploration vessel, setting sail to Alaska on August 24, 2019. This voyage will feature captivating keynotes, demos of game-changing ocean solutions, and collaborative workshops. Sven-Olof Lindblad, the CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, has shown his personal support for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator at Sea by providing his own individual contribution to the organization.

Applications for the Ocean Solutions Accelerator are now open. For more information visit our website.

Check Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s (SOA) latest updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using handle @soalliance.

About Sustainable Ocean Alliance

Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is a global non-profit organization that advances the impact of startups, social enterprises and youth-centered initiatives that are developing solutions to protect and sustain our ocean. SOA’s pipeline of ocean leaders is cultivated through a hub-based model, led by students at the collegiate and young professional levels.

Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) was founded in 2014 as a college-room idea. With phenomenal speed, SOA has created the world’s largest network of young ocean leaders – through establishing a presence in over 80 countries, launching the first-ever Ocean Solutions Accelerator to support ocean startups, and partnering with corporations such as The Economist and Lindblad Expeditions, NGOs, and governments, including Indonesia and the European Union, to develop technological solutions that can address the greatest threats facing our planet.

Website: soalliance.org

About Marc and Lynne Benioff

Marc and Lynne Benioff established the Benioff Ocean Initiative in 2016 to study and solve ocean issues around the world. The Benioffs also support the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action, a global partnership to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources, and have contributed to The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit that aims to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.


Daniela Fernandez

Daniela Fernandez
Founder and CEO
Sustainable Ocean Alliance

Founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance, award-winning social entrepreneur, thought-leader, and international speaker on the entrepreneurial mentality, ocean innovation, and technology, youth empowerment and blockchain for social good.

At the young age of 19, Daniela V. Fernandez founded Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) as a college-room idea. Five years later, she has built SOA into a global organization that is cultivating and accelerating innovative solutions to protect and sustain the health of the ocean. With phenomenal speed, SOA has created the world’s largest network of young ocean leaders – through establishing a presence in over 850 countries, launching the world’s first-ever Ocean Solutions Accelerator to support ocean start-ups, and partnering with corporations, such as Lindblad Expeditions and The Economist, NGOs, and governments, including Indonesia and the European Union, to develop technological solutions that can address the greatest threats facing our planet.

How can we cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in the next generation? What are the leading technologies that can be implemented to help address the challenges facing our environment? How can established companies harness the power of young people? What trends are we seeing in Gen Z and Millennials as consumers, employees, and future business leaders? Daniela is answering these critical questions that will influence the new wave of entrepreneurs and redefine the relationship between emerging technologies, mitigating climate change, restoring ocean health, as well as social good.

Daniela has been recognized for her work by former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, President Bill Clinton, and EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a member of the Friends of Ocean Action, a select group of leaders coming together to fast-track solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the ocean. She has been named a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, named one of Glamour Magazine’s College Women of the Year, listed as Zula’s Top 5 Ocean Heroes of 2016, received the Peter Benchley Ocean Award, and Bustle Upstart Award. Fernandez is also a contributor to National Geographic and Sustainable Brands, has been interviewed by Voice of America, New York City TV, and Ocean Radio. She has been a speaker at multiple high-level events including: The Economist World Ocean Summit, the Global Climate Summit, The Global Convening of Mayors, The United Nations, U.S. Capitol Hill Ocean Week, Collision Conference, Sustainable Brands Conference, WE Day, and now Davos 2019 – The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.

Media Contacts

Daniela Fernandez

Daniela Fernandez is available in Davos for media interviews.

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