Ocean Innovators: Sue Molloy, Glas Ocean Electric
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Innovacorp helps build ocean technology start-ups in Nova Scotia. We offer them access to venture capital, acceleration programs, non-dilutive funding, and incubation space at Start-Up Yard at COVE. These start-ups are helping transform our economy and protect our ocean. Get to know their amazing stories.
All companies begin with a problem that needs solving. But when the problem exists in a regulated industry, getting your technology to market can be challenging.
That hasn't stopped Sue Molloy, founder of Glas Ocean Electric, who intends to reduce the environmental impact of small and mid-sized commercial marine vessels.
"We're going to have a big impact. The first time you work to gain efficiency within a sector, there is a significant improvement to the environment. In this case, there are a number of reductions; emissions, of course, but there's also a lot less noise, both on the water and under it. We also reduce exposure to carcinogens by removing large amounts of diesel from the equation."
Glas Ocean's goal is to convert fishing boats to hybrid-electric boats — up to 15,000 in Canada alone before they expand into the U.S. and Caribbean. By converting boats, the company plans to help combat climate change across an entire sector.
"Electric cars laid the foundation. We know what's possible in reducing emissions, and we believe that converting boats is just as important as cars. The challenge has been building the business model and accessing the resources to refine the technology, build a team, and raise funds. We have received a lot of support, but it has taken time."
Sue points to the network in Nova Scotia and the ease of making connections to talent and potential partners.
To develop their technology, Sue and her team measured the amount of power the boats were using. That led to them developing a system that can electrify the low power and low speed operations of the boat.
"We started in 2016 collecting data and talking to fishers, finding out what they needed and gaining interest in electric boats. We also worked with the government to understand the quantity of emissions being put into the environment and what kind of exposure the people on board are susceptible to."
"We built two designs, one with a generator and one without, so we can install on new boat builds and also offer our kits to convert existing boats. Because of the regulatory environment in the marine sector, we also knew right from the beginning we would need to create something that would meet all of the very important safety requirements."
A resident at Innovacorp's incubation facility, Start-Up Yard at COVE, Glas Ocean Electric was recently awarded the 2021 Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in Engineering. The team also earned Innovacorp acceleration funding to help address their business and technical milestones.
"We're starting to make some great progress. We're proud to have won awards and a few competitions, but more importantly, we're gaining a network of supporters and collaborators who are ready and willing to help change the marine transportation sector."
August 25, 2021, Halifax, Nova Scotia