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The news that we’re partnering with Urchinomics to form Urchinomics Aotearoa is a significant milestone for impact investment project development leader EnviroStrat, and exemplifies what’s possible when you bring together global and local expertise and capital. We’ve successfully collaborated with Urchinomics, the leading global urchin (kina) ranching and kelp restoration company over the past 18 months Kinanomics pilot.

Following the success of the pilot, Urchinomics Aotearoa will scale its operations to tackle the pressing ecological and climate challenges posed by overpopulated kina barrens that have decimated kelp forest ecosystems throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand operations are expected to kickstart in the coming months, with several locations already in consideration for initial restoration activities. The business will focus on harvesting excessive kina (sea urchins) that have degraded kelp forests. By enhancing their condition through land-based aquaculture, we turn them into high-value kina (uni). Working with local iwi and communities, Urchinomics Aotearoa will improve ocean health and create local job opportunities.

This exciting new partnership is validation of EnviroStrat’s vision to create, fund and lead innovative blue-economy pilots from ideation, to testing viability, market demand and positive environmental impact, through to commercialisation. We’re excited to partner with Urchinomics in this revolutionary endeavour. “Our joint expertise supports a shared vision of restored and resilient ocean ecosystems and coastal communities,” says Dr Nigel Bradly, EnviroStrat’s CEO. “We’re committed to this partnership as a model for ecological and economic regeneration at scale.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Giles Cadman, Chair of Urchinomics who made note of the value that each organisation brings to the partnership. “By combining Urchinomics’ innovative approach to restoring kelp forests and producing high-value kina, alongside EnviroStrat’s project development experience leading the pilot, local relationships, and expertise in the blue economy, we are set to make a substantial impact on Aotearoa’s marine biodiversity and climate change challenges.”

Likewise, Perry Bevin, Urchinomics’ global CEO, has commented on the collaboration’s potential, saying that working with EnviroStrat enables Urchinomics to scale up their global efforts and leverage EnviroStrat’s deep understanding of environmental sustainability and relationships with iwi, stakeholders and government. “Together, we aim to restore ecologically degraded kina barrens into thriving habitats, providing environmental benefits and economic opportunities for iwi and local communities.”

Urchinomics Aotearoa will be led by Mawae Morton as non-executive chair and strategic advisor, and Maru Samuels as in-country lead. Read more about the expertise that these two leadership appointments bring here (Mawae Morton) and here (Maru Samuels).

We’re grateful to the Kinanomics pilot stage funders; the MPI run Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund as well as purpose-driven impact investors (expertly coordinated by James Usmar of Forsyth Barr alongside EnviroStrat’s own investment capital – and look forward to the next chapter of this work as part shareholders of Urchinomics Aotearoa.