Coral Vita

SUMMARY: Coral Vita farms corals to restore dying reefs. We grow corals up to 50x faster while strengthening their resilience against climate change. By revitalizing biodiversity, boosting fisheries, sheltering shorelines, and strengthening local economies, we can help preserve coral reefs and the valuable benefits the provide for over 1B people globally.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Coral reef degradation is attributable to two general groups: local influences and global influences. Much of reef loss going back to the 1970s is attributable to local influences. These include: overfishing, destructive coastal development, pollution, sedimentation, illegal coral harvesting, and harmful personal interactions (e.g. toxic sunscreen or bad diving techniques).

While these problems continue to harm reefs, scientists predict that global influences like warming and acidifying ocean conditions (driven by climate change) will cause the most damage to reefs in the future. Coral reefs have certain temperature ranges they can tolerate and thrive in. If temperatures exceed those barriers for long periods of time, it can cause corals to die. Simultaneously, acidification threatens coral survival by causing the calcified structures that reefs build and serve as their structure to disintegrate.

The traditional small-scale, grant-funded restoration system is ill-equipped to handle the complexity and magnitude of degradation. In order to successfully tackle this systemic problem, the value of healthy reefs must be established through a commercial restoration and reef management industry. Ultimately, a vehicle for policymakers and industrial leaders to mitigate climate change and manage local stressors must evolve. Until then, the status quo will perpetuate mass coral decline worldwide.”

SOLUTION: “Coral Vita proposes establishing a global network of large-scale land-based farms to supply nations with more diverse and resilient corals. By commercializing coral farming and introducing a business model where reef-dependent customers (e.g. hotels, governments, mitigation banks, cruise lines) pay for restoration, we can inject the capital needed into solving this global problem.

Our land-based farms integrate breakthrough methods developed by our advisors to accelerate coral growth up to 50x while enhancing their resiliency to warming and acidifying oceans. This unlocks critical species diversity, improves the cost-effectiveness of restoration, and enhances the survivability of corals in changing oceanic conditions. And our model scales: unlike ocean-based farms that must be established for each restoration site, one land-based farm can supply a nation’s reefs.

As we actively restore reefs, we will be collaborating with and supporting the work of local actors that are focused on mitigating the stressors that kill reefs. We think of restoration as an essential strategy that should be added to the toolbox of reef conservation, rather than a stand-alone solution. We plan to restore reefs in regions that are implementing proactive measures to protect them, and we strive to get the community involved through outreach and education initiatives.”

UPDATE (2018): Since entering the Fuller Challenge, Coral Vita has completed its Seed Round and raised nearly $1.5M from private investors, prizes, and fellowships. Co-Founders Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern were recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Entrepreneurs, awarded the Echoing Green Fellowship and JMK Innovation Prize, and named Semi-Finalists for the WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals. The company hired Stephen Ranson as their Chief Science Officer, who previously built and ran the State of Hawaii’s coral restoration program, and signed an MOU with the Mote Marine Laboratory, one of the world’s leading marine research institutes. And their team is finishing its move to Grand Bahama, will Coral Vita’s first coral farm will launch to begin restoring dying reefs.

CONTACT: [email protected]