Other startups are also looking to harness the ocean's vast resources for good and for profit. GreenWave trains ocean farmers to grow sea greens, "the most sustainable form of food production on the planet," according to founder Bren Smith. "They improve the ocean, and they are already a $7-$10 billion industry globally," he enthuses.
Smith's vision is of a "blue-green economy" with "profits that are attractive to pure investors and an array of social benefits that are as broad and deep as any you'll find."
Both Smith and Slat agree that big vision thinking and profitable investment is required if the oceans are to be saved and jobs are to be created.
"UBS is showing how mainstream investors are focusing on the sustainable development goals," says Nishan Degnarain, special advisor on oceans for the World Economic Forum and UBS Global Visionary.
"They are investing in projects like The Ocean Cleanup to look at new game-changing technologies," Degnarain says.
So, has The Ocean Cleanup's successful launch marked a big moment for sustainable investment? Degnarain thinks so. "So long as The Ocean Cleanup can demonstrate value, it could be the 'Unicorn of Tomorrow.'"