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Innovation against rising sea levels

Kind Designs Secures $5M to Innovate Against Rising Seas with 3D Printed Seawalls

In a significant move that offers hope against the stark backdrop of environmental crises, venture capital firm GOVO Venture Partners is co-leading a $5 million seed investment in Kind Designs, a Miami-based climate-tech startup. With over 50% of the world’s coral reefs having died in the last 30 years and up to 90% facing extinction in the next century, the urgency for solutions has never been greater. Teaming up with M4 Investing and the Florida Opportunity Fund, GOVO is making this its third portfolio investment since the launch of GOVO Fund I in January. They are backing Kind Designs’ mission to create its proprietary Living Seawalls that mimic natural coral reefs and mangroves, aiming to turn the tide against devastating sea-level rise and ecosystem decay. Located in a warehouse district in southwest Miami-Dade County, Kind Designs uses cutting-edge technology manufactured by CyBe Construction, including an ABB industrial robotic arm, to 3D print seawalls designed to serve as artificial reefs.

Global crisis lifeline Coral reefs are ecological cornerstones providing economic and environmental benefits, from sustaining marine biodiversity to offering coastal protection. However, they face a multi-pronged existential threat. Climate change-induced bleaching, ocean acidification, pollution, overfishing, and destructive human activities are putting these ecosystems at risk. Recent data reveals that nearly half of the world’s coral reefs have been severely impacted, and projections suggest that almost all could be at risk by 2050 if current trends persist. In light of this alarming scenario, the innovative solutions offered by Kind Designs have become even more important. Not only do these structures shield coastal communities from rising sea levels, but they also aim to emulate the biodiversity-hosting capabilities of natural coral reefs. With between 70% and 90% of coral reefs expected to disappear even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, these ventures could serve as critical lifelines in our global environmental crisis.

Kind Designs Founder and CEO Anya Freeman, a lawyer turned climate-tech entrepreneur, aims to turn her startup into a unicorn company while addressing the climate crisis. Commenting on the latest funding round, Freeman said: “We are thrilled to have a Florida-based firm with deep roots in the community and government expertise lead our round, enabling us to protect all coastal cities with Kind’s Living Seawalls and grow far beyond our home state of Florida.”

The synergy between Kind Designs and GOVO isn’t just financial. GOVO, a venture capital firm specializing in startups collaborating with government agencies, brings regulatory expertise. In addition to its capital support, GOVO looks forward to “leveraging our experience in local and state government to help navigate any zoning and regulatory issues.” Rob Panepinto, GOVO’s managing partner and Kind Designs’ newest board member, said of the investment, “In response to sea level rise, government agencies throughout the world will seek to adopt policy and guidance for ecologically responsible sea walls. By applying its proprietary and innovative technology, Kind Designs is setting the standard and solving a global problem. We look forward to collaborating with our co-investors and the Kind Designs team as they work to become the market leader in the space.”

Kind Designs is also a part of Ankh Impact Ventures’ portfolio, an investment firm that champions diversity and social impact. “Anya Freeman is a trailblazing Agent of Change,” said Pierre Rolin, founder of Ankh Impact Ventures. “Through our investment, we aim to bridge the gender investment gap.” With this round, Kind Designs became fully operational. The company also secured a $40,000 grant from the non-profit Florida Venture Forum earlier this year. The latest investment provides the company with the resources to scale its groundbreaking solutions while aligning it with partners committed to regulatory and social impact. With rising sea levels posing an ever-increasing threat to coastal communities, this partnership offers more than just a business opportunity; it’s a crucial step towards a sustainable and resilient future.

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