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

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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.

Working on 3D printing Living Seawalls that mimic natural coral. Image courtesy of Kind Designs.

Far from being mere barriers against rising sea levels, Kind Designs’ proprietary Living Seawalls serve as ecological pillars that host biodiversity and actively improve water quality. Far from being mere static barriers, these Living Seawalls are interactive installations, outfitted with water-quality sensors and built using recycled ocean plastic fibers, that actively contribute to ecological health.

Each Living Seawall becomes part of a global network collecting essential water data, transforming what has traditionally been a static defense into an intelligent, dynamic shield against environmental challenges. The technology not only offers superior protection for vulnerable coastlines, but it does so in a cost-effective and eco-friendly manner. Easier to get approved and more earth-friendly, these Living Seawalls are a step up from traditional options. They represent a win-win for human communities at risk of sea-level rise and the fragile marine ecosystems they border.

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.

Sebastian works 3D printing Living Seawalls that mimic natural coral. Image courtesy of Kind Designs.

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.”

Anya Freeman and her team at Kind Designs. Image courtesy of Kind Designs.

Milestones

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.”

Anya Freeman at work 3D printing Living Seawalls that mimic natural coral. Image courtesy of Kind Designs.

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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