The Ocean Technologies Industry Innovation Profile (2002)
Ocean technologies industries produce the following goods and services:
- marine technologies and equipment such as robotics, subsea vehicles, navigation, imaging equipment, oceanic sensors, marine applications programming and information systems used in ocean operations;
- communications and electronics equipment frequently used in navigation;
- professional services such as electronic and environmental engineering, offshore platform design, materials and structural design, systems integration, oceanography, meteorology, and ocean surveying and mapping;
- environmental impact and coastal management;
- increased networking and cooperation among public and private ocean technology interests across Canada, which will increase international recognition, market penetration and ensuing industry growth;
- increased regulation in the shipping industry, which will create opportunities for innovative, cost effective technologies that can be supplied by Canadians, i.e., electronic charts and display systems (ECDIS), vessel data recorders (VDRs) and offshore communications, especially automatic identification systems (AIS), international regulations such as those established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under conventions such as safety of life at sea (SOLAS) become clear market drivers;
- Centres of Excellence in Universities.
Key drivers include the following activities:
- offshore oil and gas exploration and development
- fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing
- ocean exploration
- defence and security
- marine transportation and construction
- shipbuilding and repair (specialized equipment)
- port operations.
The ocean technologies industry consists of few large companies and many small and medium-sized firms. A significant portion (some 90 percent) of their goods and services is exported internationally.
The location, number and types of firms in the ocean technologies sector are heavily influenced by Canada's geography and by oil and gas exploration.
According to information from current registration in the ocean technologies directory of the Canadian Company Capabilities Database, British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces host approximately 47 percent of the establishments involved in ocean technologies. Another 45 percent are located in Ontario and Quebec. About 500 Canadian firms and 70 000 employees are involved in operations related to ocean technologies.
The ocean technologies industry comprises a diverse set of suppliers that can be categorized into these main sectors:
- manufacturing industries, comprising:
- transportation equipment
- electric and electric products
- fabricated metal products
- other manufacturing
- business services, comprising:
- provision of expert services to acquire data,
- provision of services to transform data to knowledge,
- other scientific and technical,
- computer services, including software development.
- construction industries, including:
Research and development (R&D) key drivers include the following activities:
- ocean science and engineering research into such areas as the environment, icebergs and ice, aquaculture and oceanography
- development of navigation systems and ocean mapping for increased use of electronic chart systems and improved accuracy of satellite positioning systems
- marine communications development for increased use of data communications at sea and development of new satellite communications systems to offer wider bandwidth and lower costs
- high volume data base management;
- inter-operability of data and meta-data;
- marine sensors systems and deployment platforms for better data, at a lower cost and more accurate satellite positioning (i.e. intelligent buoys, sonars, ROVs);
- creation of knowledge for base data sets for coastal zone management;
- niche application data processing and synthesis (for example, Lidar, seabed classification).
R&D is a core activity of most of the companies involved in ocean technologies. R&D accounts on average for 30-50 percent of these companies annual expenditures. These companies are employing a relatively high proportion of highly qualified personnel.
R&D support is provided through the following federal government initiatives:
- Technology and Partnerships Canada, which has already invested some $15 million in five projects related to ocean technologies
- Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, which administers the Scientific Research and Economic Development tax credit
- the National Research Councils Industrial Research Assistance Program, which stimulates technological innovation in Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises
- the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
- the Canada Foundation for Innovation funded $5.9 million for ocean technologies R&D projects
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Western Economic Diversification Canada.
Ocean technology companies are working successfully with local universities and government laboratories. The expertise is concentrated on the East and West coasts as well as along the St. Lawrence River.
Some organizations that conduct research related to ocean technology:
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada laboratories
- National Research Council Canada
- Marine Institute
- OceansAdvance Inc.
- Institute of Ocean Sciences
- Groupe Universitaire de recherches océanographiques du Québec
The National Research Council of Canada plays an important role in the development of the ocean technology industry through the Technology Roadmap initiative which is a tool to forecast technological developments needed to meet future market demand; and through the creation, in 2001, of the Ocean Technology Cluster OceansAdvance in St. John's, Newfoundland.
The following major associations represent companies involved in ocean technologies:
- Offshore/Onshore Technology Association of Nova Scotia
- National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA)
- Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre
- Newfoundland Ocean Industry Association
- Western Oceans Initiative
- Ocean Industries BC
- OceansAdvance Inc.
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