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Top Sector Trends to Watch in 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Oceans: Digital oceans, big data, and the importance of collaboration

The concept of ‘digital oceans’ was a strong theme in 2017, with significant effort undertaken to lay the groundwork for further advancements in 2018. An industry-led proposal for an Oceans Supercluster in Atlantic Canada was among nine shortlisted for federal funding. If approved, Canada’s Oceans Supercluster will invest in digital ocean technologies applicable to a variety of oceans industries and be based in Atlantic Canada.

The partnership is coming together in the best place in the world to build an innovative ocean supercluster – Atlantic Canada, home to world-class companies, researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.” 


Along the same vein of digital oceans, North America’s largest business-focused data technology conference, Big Data Congress, introduced a dedicated stream to help companies understand the data coming from digital ocean instruments – and how to use it. This data undoubtedly matches Gartner's definition – it is high-value, high-variety, and has a high degree of variation. By combining complex machine-learning algorithms with artificial intelligence, Cognitive Analytics give users a stronger and faster understanding of complex systems. Businesses with questions are able to link distinctive data sets to seek out connections and form valuable insights.

In true support of collaboration, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) opens its doors this April as a hub for oceans collaboration and commercialization. Whether it’s technologies applicable to the energy, fisheries and aquaculture, marine transportation, marine defence, or marine tourism industries, COVE provides the infrastructure to help companies scale.

Information Technology: Global elevation and a new program to help companies scale

Elevation was a strong trend for Nova Scotia’s information technology sector in 2017. Technology developed in Nova Scotia was adopted by tech giant, Samsung, and showcased at the 2017 Mobile World Congress. As well, the 2017 Branham300 Report, recognized three of Nova Scotia’s businesses among the top up-and-coming companies.

Recognizing businesses must be able to scale to achieve, the NSBI Scale-up Hub Cambridge was launched to help Nova Scotia’s tech community access new customers, investors, and markets throughout the Northeastern U.S. region and beyond.

A critical trading market for Nova Scotia, approximately 20% of the province’s total exports go to New England. Total product exports from Nova Scotia to New England in 2016 were $1.022 billion, while total imports from New England were $1.59 million. Through a competitive process, four companies were selected to participate in the Scale-up Hub Cambridge for a period of one year.

Agri-food and Beverage: The link between big data and food security

Productivity and technological improvements in the agriculture industry minimize crop waste and improve bottom lines. This directly minimizes food waste. The biggest trend in productivity improvements for the agriculture industry is Precision Agriculture. As estimated by BCC Research, an international market research firm, the global Precision Agriculture Technology market is valued at over $3.3 billion and projected to grow by 12.4% annually over the next five years. A great Nova Scotia example of innovation in this space is TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, based out of Bible Hill.

Improvements in healthcare, technology, and infrastructure have lengthened life expectancy rates globally. The World Health Organization says, on average, 60-year-old individuals around the globe expect to live another 20 years. Couple this with increasing birth rates, and suddenly it's quite likely we'll need to feed 9 billion people by 2050 (an increase of almost 2 billion people), with the same finite resources we've had for generations.

Although we’re one of Canada’s smallest provinces, Nova Scotia’s value-added agri-food and beverage industry regularly punches above its weight. The province is home to the world’s largest supplier of frozen wild blueberries, North America’s largest processor of frozen carrot products, and the largest supplier of OMEGA-3 EPA/DHA to the global food and beverage industry. By adopting modern practices, including Precision Agriculture, our companies ensure long-term success.

Digital and Interactive Media: Growth and a continued strive for collaboration

The trend for Nova Scotia’s gaming and interactive media industry in 2017 was simple: growth.

With more than 20 interactive media studios across the province, Nova Scotia has become a sought-out location for game development. KPMG’s 2016 Competitive Alternatives Report ranks Nova Scotia as number one for cost competitiveness in video game production out of all mature markets around the world. Couple this with an enviable lifestyle available in Nova Scotia, and it just makes sense that we would have welcomed several new studios to Nova Scotia last year, including Gogii gamesHutch Games, and Red Meat Games.

“In the past 10 years we have watched a strong game development community form in the Halifax area, and with our new expansion we knew it was the right place for us to grow. Looking at the talent pool already available in the region, the 38,000+ undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Nova Scotia’s 10 universities and 13 community college campuses, and the commitment from the local and regional governments to support video game development, Halifax was an easy choice to expand Gogii’s operations.”

— George Donovan, President of Gogii Games Corp

The launch of the Interactive Society of Nova Scotia (ISNS) in October 2017 topped off a strong year for Nova Scotia’s industry. ISNS fosters collaboration within the industry with post-secondary education institutions, promoting the hiring of local graduates and the development of programs to meet future workforce needs.

To remain up-to-date on 2018’s trends as they evolve, sign up for our monthly newsletter – the Insider – and follow NSBI on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.