Archived — Ocean Technology Continues to Grow in Atlantic Canada

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Ocean Technology

The ocean technology sector continues to grow in Atlantic Canada, especially in the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. With the recent launch of the Halifax Marine Research Institute and the continued growth of OceansAdvance, a cluster of more than 50 ocean technology sector companies, the Atlantic Region is benefitting from significant developments in the sector.

Growth of Ocean Technology in Newfoundland and Labrador

The growth of the sector in Atlantic Canada has brought a dramatic rise in profits for Newfoundland and Labrador in particular, where sector revenues have risen from just over $100 million in 2001 to more than half a billion dollars so far this year.

With this kind of success, OceansAdvance is establishing Newfoundland and Labrador as an international centre for ocean technology. Some of the cluster's most remarkable products include the first type approved Voyage Data Recorder in the world (a black box for ships), developed by Rutter Technologies, and a new concept for an autonomous underwater vehicle for seabed surveying and military applications, developed by Marport Deep Sea Technologies in collaboration with the National Research Council Canada (NRC) Institute for Ocean Technology.

OceansAdvance was made possible through cooperation among, and support from, NRC, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the provincial government, the City of St. John's and Industry Canada. It is supported by world-class institutions with the goal of growing the industry to more than 6,600 employees and to $1 billion in revenue by 2015.

"Recently, these companies have been looking at how the improvements to the Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy can help them develop new market-driven products," says Brian McShane, an innovation officer at Industry Canada who works with Newfoundland and Labrador's ocean technology sector.

Industry Canada worked with OceansAdvance to improve cooperation between the industry and educational institutions to create a framework on which a Centre of Excellence could be based.

C-CORE, a member of OceansAdvance, is a research and development organization with expertise in ice engineering and harsh environment technology based at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In December 2010, one of C-CORE's most important initiatives, the LOOKNorth (Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North) Centre, was named a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research and was awarded $7.1 million to advance its work.

Ocean Technology Gains in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia can also boast of success stories in its ocean technology sector.

On June 2, 2011, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that it will contribute $1.75 million over the next five years to the development of the Halifax Marine Research Institute (HMRI). Led by Dalhousie University, the Institute will link Nova Scotia's academic and public sector marine-related research organizations with ocean technology businesses to create long-term economic benefits for the province.

Through the HMRI, Doug Wallace, the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ocean Science and Technology, is developing containerized biogeochemical observation instruments that will be stationed on research and commercial container ships around the world to more accurately understand how the oceans are changing. The CERC research program is worth over $34 million and is supported in part by a $10-million grant from the Government of Canada. More than 40 researcher, post-doctoral fellow, student and support staff positions will be created in the region.

The benefits of the HMRI will reach beyond Canadian borders as it coordinates international projects such as the Ocean Tracking Network and the Lloyd's Register Educational Trust (UK) Chair in Modeling and Prediction of Marine Environmental Extremes.

The Ocean Tracking Network is a groundbreaking $168-million science and technology innovation project that is broadening our knowledge of marine wildlife. When fully deployed, it will include 17 new sensor arrays that will link with project partner arrays across all five oceans to provide an unparalleled tool for tracking the global movements of thousands of marine animals—from fish to birds to polar bears.

The Lloyd's Register Educational Trust (UK) Chair in Modeling and Prediction of Marine Environmental Extremes (2010–15) is an international collaboration among researchers in oceanography and climate physics from Canada, Australia, the UK and Brazil. Its research will improve the short-term forecasting of extreme marine events, such as hurricanes, typhoons and sea state surges, and estimate their frequency over the coming decades, producing new models that will be useful both to scientists and to the offshore and transportation industries.

Through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, Dalhousie University received over $14 million to update its Life Sciences Centre. Over 3,000 students and 200 researchers use the 450,000-square-foot, 1,000-room centre, which provides a safe and comfortable environment for cutting-edge research.

With investments in initiatives such as C-CORE, OceansAdvance, the Halifax Marine Research Institute and the Life Sciences Centre, Atlantic Canada's ocean technology sector will generate research and development that will bring positive change to industry, the environment, and Atlantic Canada's economy.

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