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  • Atlantic Canada's next wave of ocean tech investment and activity

Atlantic Canada's next wave of ocean tech investment and activity

Monday, January 28, 2019

By 2030, the Ocean Economy – built upon ocean technology—is forecast to accumulate $3 trillion in revenues. With a history rooted in the ocean, Atlantic Canada is built to realize this opportunity.

Clustered on Canada’s East Coast, the provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island collectively identify as Atlantic Canada. An appropriate reflection of the region’s innate connection to the world’s second-largest ocean.

It’s hard to pick a single year out of centuries of living and working on the ocean, but future Atlantic Canadians may look back on 2018 as one for the books in ocean technology.

In February 2018, the Government of Canada and the private sector announced the creation of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster – with its epicentre in Atlantic Canada. This collaboration will build Canada’s ocean economy into one of our most significant and sustainable economic sectors. The Supercluster represents a combined investment of over $300 million from public and private sources.

In June 2018, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) launched as the region’s collaborative space for applied innovation in ocean technology. Through COVE, local and global businesses are invited to take advantage of the region’s notable assets, including a high concentration of oceans-related researchers.

Moving forward, the region’s prioritization of ocean technology stands clearly as a strategic economic growth area, as evidenced by a collaborative environment with relevant supports in place. The region has well established supply chains, deeply entrenched partnerships in the global market, and refined products and services that are globally competitive. There is a strong sense of community among the sector in each province.

Collectively, the region has 160 ocean-based businesses across the following six industries:

  • Marine Energy (extractive and renewables)
  • Shipbuilding and Onboard Systems
  • Defence and Surveillance
  • Ocean Science
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Marine Mapping

Atlantic Canada’s ocean industry is building an international reputation for ocean observation, bringing designers, manufacturers, experts, and innovators to showcase their latest products and services in fields such as underwater acoustics and imaging, marine communication and navigation, robotics, arctic technologies, and sensors.

The region also leads the world in the number of oceans-related supporting resources including research institutions, centres of excellence, universities, researchers, and facilities.


Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) is the only Canadian university to make the list of the world’s top post-secondary institutions for the study of marine/ocean engineering and the University spends in excess of 50% of its research dollars on oceans. The Fisheries and Marine Institute at MUN is Canada’s most comprehensive centre for education, training, applied research and industrial support for the ocean industries. The campus also hosts the National Research Council’s ice tank test facility – a 90 metre indoor, refrigerated tow-tank – which simulates realistic Arctic and northern marine conditions.

C-CORE provides research-based advisory services and technology solutions. It maintains a collaborative relationship with Memorial University, with access to diverse academic expertise and $120 million research portfolio. It is also home to LOOKNorth, a Canadian national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research dedicated to remote sensing innovation that supports responsible, sustainable resource development.

Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia graduates a steady stream of talent from Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary bachelor’s degree program in ocean sciences. It’s home to institutions like the Ocean Tracking Network, Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network, the Ocean Frontier Institute, and IBM’s DeepSense platform which connects the ocean industry with powerful analytics capabilities.

Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) hosts the Nautical Institute and an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Ocean Mapping Technologies. Through its network of thirteen campuses, the college has several applied programs and degrees, including advanced diplomas in Ocean Technology, Marine Engineering Technology, and Marine Navigation. NSCC’s Applied Oceans Research Group focuses on investigating the latest innovations in ocean survey instruments, including subsea camera systems, multi-beam echo sounders, and autonomous surface and underwater vehicles.

On Prince Edward Island, Holland College Marine Training Centre has been providing Transport Canada approved training for more than four decades. They offer a full range of certifications from Bridge Watch Rating to Master Mariner, and Engine Rating to Chief Engineer, and many specialized courses.

Based at the University of New Brunswick, the Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence is the first in Canada to use 3D metal printing to manufacture certified parts for the marine industry.

Beyond these academic supports, the region’s eco-system is bolstered by the presence of several institutions that advance ocean innovation, including the nation’s largest centre for oceans research, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, which is engaged in a broad range of marine science and applied research initiatives.

With so much going on across industry and academia, industry associations play a large role in bridging gaps and leveraging the momentum for the region’s benefit.

The Ocean Technology Council of Nova Scotia (OTCNS) and OceansAdvance in Newfoundland are both prime examples of these critically important organizations.

OTCNS is a key resource for businesses to access information on ocean technology related procurement, business, and academic linkages. The organization also facilitates business to business services to introduce companies to the global market by working with Nova Scotia Business Inc., one of the province’s economic development agencies.

OceansAdvance is a multi-stakeholder technology cluster which is underpinned by innovation, commercialization, and export. Membership consists of more than 90 export-driven companies, research and technology organizations, government departments, plus a number of post-secondary institutes and trade associations focused on producing the next generation of ocean leaders.

Whether harnessing its energy potential, exploring its depths, patrolling its boundaries, or leveraging its ability to connect the world, the ocean is where chart our course and succeed. Learn more at www.novascotiabusiness.com/oceans.