Ocean-based startup companies in Atlantic Canada make top 10 in global list

Atlantic Canada’s ocean tech start-up sector has been ranked in the top 10 in a new report on the global blue economy.

An international organization that promotes entrepreneurship, Startup Genome, issued the ranking on Wednesday. By comparison, the Vancouver startup hub was ranked 14th.

The blue economy is an attempt to make more responsible use of ocean resources.

“It’s very exciting to see Atlantic Canada being ranked in the top 10. However, we’re in 10th. So I think there’s certainly more opportunity for us to continue on our growth trajectory,” said Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Ocean Supercluster, a federal innovation fund, based in St. John’s.

The Ocean Supercluster may be one reason for the region’s relatively high ranking. The report says that the majority of investment in ocean startups worldwide comes from the public sector.

In 2018, Canada committed $153 million to the Ocean Supercluster to drive innovation and promote new business.

Innovacorp 10th in startups top investors

The Supercluster said it has approved 70 projects with a total value of more than $360 million, including money from the private sector, which will deliver more than 120 new Canadian-made ocean products.

The Startup Genome report ranked the Nova Scotia Crown corporation, Innovacorp, 10th among the top investors in startups.

MacDonald said more private sector investment is flowing into startups, but government money is getting them off the ground.

“The need for public investment will continue to be there, the need to be able to support research, that will continue to be there because they are complicated scientific questions. They take time in terms of hardware and software in many cases to be able to create the opportunity,” he said.

BlueNode is a Halifax startup that plans to take the next step: selling artificial intelligence software it has developed to streamline shipping routes.

A container ship docked in the port of Halifax in this 2021 file photo. (Submitted by the Halifax Port Authority)

The company is leading a $3 million project funded by the Ocean Supercluster to analyze huge AI-generated datasets to find the best route for goods from their origin to their final destination.

AI and port shipping

Chief Executive Officer Louis Beaubien said the software “looks for patterns, looks for new pathways where we can estimate new optimal routes to get cargo from point A to point B, new ways to transition cargo that’s in a ship to a port. And then on a train and out to market.”

The project focuses on the Port of Halifax, where it is working with the Swedish company Saab, container terminal operator PSA and the Halifax Port Authority.

Beaubien predicts that markets outside the province will be interested thanks to the work being developed and demonstrated here.

Shipping logistics is just one of many ocean technologies, he said. Other startups are focused on improving wild capture fisheries, aquaculture, underwater robotics and sensors.

“Every part of that ocean start-up space and the modern ocean economy takes place here in Nova Scotia. And it has a huge impact on what we do every day, where the really cool jobs are and where the science is being done.” really interesting”. in places like Dalhousie and BIO [Bedford Institute of Oceanography, a federal research centre],” he said.

Europe world leader

The report says Europe is the world leader in blue economy startups, holding 39 percent of the share and producing the most early-stage deals.

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