SBO Award Winners 2013: Ecotrust us on this one

Sam Beebe

Ruby Gates heads Ecotrust's newest water-related environmental program.

Editor's note: To mark last week's SBO Innovation in Sustainability Awards, we're posting the full stories — including bonus content — that ran in our special publication on our website. To purchase copies of the publication itself, please contact Bill Berninger at wberninger@bizjournals.com.

Ecotrust is no stranger to innovation. The well-diversified nonprofit has long been a hub for testing ideas by creating new social enterprises,investment vehicles and outside-the-box partnerships. But it’s Ecotrust’s growing body of for-profit work that caught our eye this year.

Founded by Spencer Beebe in 1991, Ecotrust has slowly evolved into a sort of economic think-tank and fund manager. In 2004, the organization took its first foray into for-profit ventures with the creation of Ecotrust Forest Management, a fund that sustainably manages Northwest forestland. The fund’s assets under management are now approaching $100 million.

In October this year, Ecotrust continued its spin-out approach by transforming its marine consulting group into a new business called Point 97. The new wholly owned subsidiary, which will initially employ nine people, uses data visualization to improve fisheries and ocean planning.

Point 97 counts Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund among its initial clients.

“Ecotrust has worked on marine planning since 2001, and we really started with the fishing and government agencies,” said Ruby Gates, Point 97’s CEO and an energy industry management veteran. “This is a great opportunity to help (fisheries) to optimize their businesses.”

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