BlueTech: 2023 in Review

A BlueX Special Report

It has been nine months since the first BlueX; I’ve tried to make it a news round-up instead of generating a ton of content in a world flooded (water pun) with marketing junk.

It is time to do something a bit different. I looked back at the past year and put together an analysis of the BlueTech market. The nine months of reporting, plus many hours of research brought me to this dataset. So stick with me while I light some incense in front of a shrine to Carta’s Peter Walker and enjoy the report.

About the Report - Before We Start

What even is BlueTech? Even the experts who work in BlueTech have trouble defining what BlueTech includes. We can’t even decide if it’s BlueTech, Blue Economy, OceanTech, or something else. Water touches a huge part of our lives and the world around us.

The dataset assembled included all of the startup deals that I define as BlueTech. It is my opinion and a gut call, it is not perfect. I define it as where “Climate or Clean Tech meets the water.” Which means I’m leaving out a lot of startups (defense). You’re free to disagree with my definition, but that was the call I made when I started BlueX.

Is this all the data? Venture capital funding events are private by default. This report is sourced from publicly available data (PRs, public databases, etc.) and is NOT inclusive of all the venture activity. If anything, it understates the activity in BlueTech in 2023. But I think I gathered enough to pick out a few trends and draw some interesting conclusions.

I’m not perfect and my business analysis skills are a little rusty (sorry decade-old MBA). If you see a mistake, let me know so I can fix it and re-release this report.

One last note. Please sign up for the BlueX newsletter! I send it out weekly with BlueTech venture fundings, oceanic climate-positive news, and job opportunities.

2023 in BlueTech - The Topsheet Numbers

Despite macro-economic trends, a lot of capital was injected into BlueTech in 2023. This report covers these activities:

  • 166 unique startups and their funding events.

  • 440 unique investors (VCs, angels, corporate, other).

  • Aquaculture saw its first confirmed unicorn in 2023, eFishery.

  • The largest investment this year was a $225,000,000 Series D.

    • The smallest was a $81,750 accelerator program check.

  • The bottom line:

2023 saw $1,970,846,000 of verified BlueTech venture investment!

Of the 166 confirmed funding events, 28 of them did not disclose the amount raised. A non-linear model analysis predicts an additional $176MM or a total of $2.15B invested in BlueTech in 2023.

(A)round We Go

Breaking down the data by round, we find some interesting trends. Some match the broader venture world, some are unique to BlueTech.

The total amount of dollars by round:

Dollars Raised per Round in BlueTech

And the total quantity of deals per round:

Number of Deals Per Round in BlueTech

There are a lot of deals happening in the Seed and Series A rounds and a lot of money flowing to Series A firms. That implies BlueTech is early in its maturity cycle as a venture niche. However, it’s not as clear if that data is particularly trustworthy. Looking at the box plot of BlueTech rounds, there is a lot of variance and a lot of overlap.

BlueTech Box Plot Analysis (Pre-Seed to Series C)

It should be no surprise that BlueTech is subject to the same variance as to what specific round labels mean as the rest of the venture world.

Themes, Categories, and Tags Oh My!

For each deal, I applied tags for the sub-categories in the BlueTech ecosystem. Some of the words you’d expect came up frequently:

Tags by count

However, the total dollars raised based on the tags uncovered some interesting patterns.

Tags by USD raised

BlueTech is a physical HardTech world, but Software is still an incredibly powerful force in legacy industries like Maritime. Surprising to me was the small quantity of offshore power generation (wind, wave, tidal, or solar) in this analysis. I would guess that a lot of those themes took a hit during ClimateTech 1.0’s rise and fall. This left room for the post-COVID Maritime/Supply Chain refresh and the rise of Onshoring and American Dynamism as forces in venture.

Investors Active or Not

Investors from across the ecosystem were represented among the 440 unique angels, VCs, corporates, and government agencies. I define active here as more than two BlueTech deals in the year. Most active investors have a CleanTech or ClimateTech thesis, but a few are BlueTech-only.

Remember a large portion of venture deals are kept private, so these numbers are very likely underestimated.

VCs with more than two public investments in BlueTech startups

Recent years have seen the growth of BlueTech-focused venture funds. This shows two groups, the left (blue) group is investors for whom BlueTech is part of their core investment thesis. The right group (green) is VCs active in BlueTech but for whom it isn’t core to how they define themselves.

It’s no surprise to see SOSV dominating the generalist group, between HAX and IndieBio they are one of the largest ClimateTech investors on the planet, and a lot of ClimateTech happens in the ocean. In the BlueTech Thesis group, Katapult Ocean works in high volume while they operate the preeminent Ocean pre-seed accelerator.

Keep in mind, that there is a lot of anecdotal information not presented in this graphic. For example, Propeller has invested in at least eight startups since its launch in late 2022, but the majority of those deals are kept private. Pitchbook only confirms two.

The Oceans Connect Everyone, Everywhere

Where are the best places to start a BlueTech startup? The jury is still out.

BlueTech Deal Count by Region

BlueTech Investment USD by Region

  • North America - 54 Deals - $987MM

  • Europe - 61 Deals - $476MM

  • Middle East (Israel) - 8 Deals - $85MM

  • Africa - 1 Deals - $1.7MM

  • Oceania - 3 Deals - $24MM

  • Asia - 11 Deals - $396MM

My takeaways from these two graphics:

  • Europe is beating North America in a venture vertical by the number of deals, but not total dollars. Europe has been ahead of the US a lot on all things Climate, including BlueTech.

  • Israel makes up the entire Middle East on this map, there are a lot of Israeli BlueTech startups. Is this a budding BlueTech hub?

  • Africa and Oceania are overlooked opportunities, with a ton of potential, talent, and tech, but underfunded.

Nothing in South America? There are a ton of BlueTech startups in LatAm. My analytics tools didn’t pull out LatAm, they looked at North and South America. However, at the end of the day, I still couldn’t find a single South American BlueTech deal in 2023. Did I miss something? 🤷‍♂️

The Two Biggest Markets: (1) Europe

Let’s take a look at European countries and how many deals happened where:

Deal count by country, Europe

Some obvious leaders have emerged from the European BlueTech world, and it’s the countries with historic connections to maritime. The Netherlands leads Europe with 13 deals in 2023, beating the UK’s 11, Germany’s 10, and Norway’s 8. When you compare that to population size, Scandinavia is clearly leading in this space in Europe.

Top 5 European Countries by Dollars Raised / Capita
  1. Finland

  2. Norway

  3. Denmark

  4. Sweden

  5. Netherlands

Top 5 European Countries by Deal Count / Capita
  1. Norway

  2. Denmark

  3. Netherlands

  4. Finland

  5. Ireland

Top 5 European Countries by Total Dollars Raised in BlueTech
  1. Germany, $111MM

  2. United Kingdom, $76MM

  3. Finland, $49MM

  4. Netherlands, $40MM

  5. Norway, $38MM

The Two Biggest Markets: (2) United States

Not many surprises in the US, BlueTech tracks on the broader venture trends. California, Massachusetts, and New York lead on deal count and dollars invested in BlueTech. It’s what comes AFTER the leaders that it gets interesting.

Number of BlueTech Venture Deals by State

Top 5 States By Total Deal Count
  1. California, 22

  2. New York, 6

  3. Mass, 4

  4. Texas, 4

  5. Illinois, 2

Top 5 States by Total Dollars Raised
  1. California - $332MM

  2. Mass, $300MM

  3. New York, $86MM

  4. Texas, $66MM

  5. Illinois, $14MM

I was surprised by a couple of things in this data. First Wyoming and Colorado, landlocked states, have solid activity. Not surprisingly most of that activity was in sustainable energy/fuels and freshwater filtering. I was also surprised by the jump between New York and Massachusetts/California. I’d guess there is a lot of untapped opportunity in the NYC market for BlueTech.

I’ve heard a lot anecdotally about the BlueTech traction in Florida, Puerto Rico, Washington, and Oregon. The fact that those states/territories don’t show up on this year’s list probably indicates they’re early in the development cycle of a vertical tech ecosystem.


Thanks for reading about the year in BlueTech. This report only scratches the surface of this ecosystem.

There has been a ton of activity among the non-investors as well, the early-stage incubator programs, non-profits, and government organizations doing great work in BlueTech. Some of my favorites are SeaAhead, Seaworthy Collective, Blue Institute Labs, TMA BlueTech, NOWRDC, MITRE, and Maritime Blue just to name a few. I could do a whole other report just on their achievements in the past year.

Thanks for the great first year (9 months) of BlueX. If you have thoughts, concerns, or a BlueTech news tip, send it my way! Here’s to hoping you have a happy and healthy 2024.

Methodology: Acknowledgments and References

I used some awesome tools to put this all together. I am NOT a trained business analyst or data scientist. Here’s a short list of the resources I used and what I used them for:

  • Database collection and cleaning: Airtable

  • Analytics and statistical analysis:

  • Data visualization and graphics: Flourish

  • Marketing materials and some graphics: Canva

  • Data sources: Pitchbook, LinkedIn, Crunchbase, and 50+ news sources.

  • Special thanks to MJ Durkin, George Lutz, and Jake Russell for double-checking me and proofreading.