Canada’s Ocean Sector Boasts Investment and Innovation

In September, the ECO Magazine editorial team had the pleasure of attending Innovate Canada—Oceans 2023, held in Victoria, BC, Canada. This ocean sector event brought together seven Canadian destinations (Victoria, Vancouver, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Québec City, Halifax, and City of Charlottetown), media, and pre-qualified global ocean and marine science industry leaders to take stock of Canada’s investment in the ocean sector firsthand.

With borders on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Canada’s Ocean Sector has leveraged its coast-to-coast strengths to bring about advancements in ocean robotics, alternative energy technology, artificial intelligence, and more.

Ocean Tech Tours

To take a deep dive into the innovative ocean and marine companies local to Victoria, on-site tech tours gave a behind-the-scenes view of how the ocean industry is bring change and innovation to its growing range of services, technologies, and systems.

Founded in 2018, Open Ocean Robotics blazed a trail from rowboats to robotics. As the first uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) company in Canada, Open Ocean Robotics operates as a USV manufacturer and a data-as-a-service (DaaS) entity with headquarters in Victoria, BC, Canada. The robotics innovator’s mainstay, a self-righting hull, has proven successful for defense, observing, and monitoring operations. Some of their customers have included the US Navy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and have worked with researchers in US Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Their intuitive data portal offers an easy-to-use interface that leaves Open Robotics confident in their end-user experience. Potential upcoming enhancements to their proven portfolio include a next-generation self-righting wing design and upgrades to thermal imagery to improve defense sector operations.

Cailin Burmaster, Open Ocean Robotics Mission Specialist, carries out a USV demonstration in Victoria, B.C. (Image credit: Ben Johnson)

ImageA IMG 6357A Royal Canadian Navy ship at the Esquimalt Graving Dock. (Image credit: Haley McQueen)

Opened in late 1926 to 1927, Esquimalt Graving Dock is the largest non-military dry dock in North America. This open-access location boasts collaboration between many users specializing in industrial marine ship repair, refit, and maintenance. In rough numbers, the facility hosts 13 port tenants and 3,000 trades workers and economically contributed CAD$945 million in gross output, CAD$400 million in GDP, CAD$230 million in salaries, and CAD$33 million in taxes.

ImageB IMG 6343Benoît Pirenne, ONC Director, speaks to attendees about current and future research projects. (Image credit: Haley McQueen)

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) is a unique consortium bringing together communities, researchers, academia, and industry. Hosted and owned by the University of Victoria, ONC’s monitoring networks deliver real-time, open data to better inform ocean stakeholder decision-making. Through the collection of physical, chemical, biological, and geological data from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, ONC is operationally equipped to host and operate in complicated offshore conditions and environments.

Making Lab to Market Possible

The number of ocean technology startup companies across Canada has increased by 70% in recent years—a firm representation and outcome of Canada’s investment in a growing Blue Economy. To usher in new ocean tech entrepreneurship, the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) serves as a Pacific Coast Canadian hub for bridging collaborative efforts of entrepreneurs, corporations, academia, government, and investors. Here are some of the companies supported and involved with COAST:

SEAMOR Marine manufactures and produces observation-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). This ocean tech company is expanding the operational limits of work and exploration into some of the ocean’s most complex regions. With inspection and construction, monitoring, and search and rescue applications, SEAMOR Marine’s ROVs provide a reliable and versatile platform to carry out offshore and nearshore operations.

Image2 Photo 2023 09 13 11 40 25 AMSEAMOR Marine’s operator base. (Image credit: Ben Johnson)

Proven, trusted autonomy. That’s what Cellula Robotics promises with their turnkey subsea robotic systems. With a team of highly skilled engineers, Cellula Robotics is developing uncrewed solutions with newfound defense applications. Some of the world’s most formidable environments exist in the polar, remote regions of the world’s oceans. New uncrewed developments by Cellula Robotics are breaking down barriers beneath the ice and are improving the community’s knowledge of real-world, subsea operating conditions.

Image5 An automatic eDNA sampler on display by Ocean Diagnostics. (Image credit: Ben Johnson)

The new age use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for biodiversity surveys and environmental impact assessments has driven a need for viable and efficient eDNA sampling solutions. Ocean Diagnostics, an ocean science sensor and sampling developer, has designed technology for sampling microplastics and eDNA. Through additional scientific laboratory analysis services, Ocean Diagnostics offers a unique and novel solution for researchers, industry scientists, and decision-makers.

Image6 Photo 2023 09 13 12 08 02 PMOcean Diagnostics’ Microplastics Imager allows scientists and researchers to learn more about where microplastics originate from and more. (Image credit: Ben Johnson)

With over 50 years of experience in the development, deployment, and maintenance of offshore systems, AXYS Technologies Inc. offers an extensive product line for ocean monitoring and observation. With applications in ports and harbors, offshore industry, MetOcean observing, and oil and gas monitoring, AXYS provides accurate, reliable, and complete ocean data measurement solutions.

An expert in the measurement of turbulent flow, Rockland Scientific Inc. offers a wide array of products, including profiling, modular, and moored systems. With sensor and software solutions for the oceanographic community, Rockland Scientific prides itself in assisting and consulting on measurement campaigns, experimental instrumentation, and data collection and processing.

Ocean and coastal environments are quickly changing and temperamental regions. DSA Ocean provides consulting services focused on moorings, anchoring, hydrodynamics, and more. From aquaculture to defense to offshore infrastructure and more, DSA Ocean software systems allow for the simulation and consideration of marine conditions like wind, waves, and currents.

The influx of marine data generated by marine operations allows for better forecasting, monitoring, and data-backed decision-making, but it isn’t without its challenges. Data ingestion and analysis can be complicated when they come from multiple sources. BRNKL, an Internet of Things (IoT) hub, provides a solution for data collection and capture. This system provides an innovative solution to quickly and efficiently analyze incoming data that is foundational to making quick interventions.

Image7 BJA09568Cascadia Seaweed works with coastal First Nations to create a value market for aquatic seaweed. (Image credit: Ben Johnson)

Partnered with coastal First Nations, Cascadia Seaweed is committed to building a profitable and scalable business centered around the cultivation of seaweed. Cascadia Seaweed sees a world where there is a value market for seaweed for whole food, animal and livestock feed, pharmaceuticals, and more. Through this new venture business, global and local solutions are presented for mitigating climate change, increasing food production, and improving ocean habitats.

Eyes Watching Canada

Canada’s investment in its ocean sector is one to watch. Through leveraging its unique coast-to-coast geography and efficient regional collaboration, innovations in ocean technology and services point toward a prosperous blue economy. With many of its destinations positioned on a coast, it is uniquely positioned for ocean industry-focused conferences and meetings—like OCEANS 2024 Halifax—that make it easier for on-water demonstrations and in-the-field industry training.

Image8 IMG 6431A bird’s eye view of Victoria, BC, Canada. (Image credit: Haley McQueen)

Our Partners

Frontiers in Marine Science

ECO Magazine is a marine science trade publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.


8502 SW Kansas Ave
Stuart, FL 34997


Newsletter Signup

The ECO Newsletter is a weekly email featuring the Top 10 stories of the past seven days, providing readers with a convenient way to stay abreast on the latest ocean science and industry news.