Canada’s national ocean cluster brings together industry, research, investors, and government to build capabilities and change the way ocean business is done.
With the longest coastline in the world and the fourth largest ocean territory, Canada is an ocean nation, with incredible resources, experience, and some of the most innovative people on the planet. As we embark on the UN Decade of Ocean, the blue economy is a global conversation drawing increased attention, and one where Canada can lead.
In 2018, Canada made a move to invest in innovation differently. Through the Supercluster program, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster came to fruition and so far has approved 50 projects with a total value of $250 million, yielding more than 100 new, made-in-Canada ocean products, processes, and services, and creating more than 2,300 direct and indirect jobs.
With almost 400 members from coast-to-coast-to-coast, this industry-led cluster is breaking down silos and building new partnerships across Canada and ocean sectors including the fishery, aquaculture, offshore resources, bioresources, marine renewables, shipping, defence, and ocean technology to develop globally-relevant, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges in ocean.
“The Ocean Supercluster brings together ocean sectors, as well as the research community, investors, regional innovation hubs, not-for-profits, and others to grow Canada’s ocean economy in a more digital, sustainable, and inclusive way,” says Kendra MacDonald, CEO at Canada’s Ocean Supercluster. “As a result, we are seeing partnerships form that might not have otherwise been realized. The diversity in experience, capabilities, and knowledge is driving game-changing projects that solve challenges that aren’t exclusive to one ocean sector but shared across many.”
I believe that now is our time. With the momentum we’re building, and the collaborative approach to delivering solutions to the world gaining traction, we are putting our stake in the ground as an ocean nation.
The last year has seen a lot of project activity from cluster-building to technology leadership and has continued to build momentum despite the significant adverse impacts of the pandemic. In addition to robust activity in its core project pipeline, the Ocean Supercluster launched a new program for accelerated projects that triggered more than 250 project ideas and resulted in new industry investment and activity at a time when it was very much needed. In reflection, MacDonald notes this kind of progress, while exciting, has “only just scratched the surface of what is possible for Canadian ocean innovation.”
The global ocean economy is expected to double to $3 trillion (USD) by 2030, and she sees this as a transformational opportunity for Canada.
“I believe now is our time. With the momentum we’re building, and the collaborative approach to delivering solutions to the world gaining traction, we are putting our stake in the ground as an ocean nation,” she says. “As we look ahead to economic recovery, and the path to decarbonization, some of Canada’s biggest opportunities exist in ocean.”
Diversity and Inclusion Critical to Achieving Full Potential in Ocean
CEO, Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services
Ocean Supercluster innovation ecosystem building projects focus on increased participation in the ocean economy.
The Ocean Supercluster sees building an innovation ecosystem that is robust, diverse, and inclusive as critical to achieving Canada’s full potential in ocean. Through Ocean Supercluster projects including Ocean Allies, Blue Futures Pathways, Ocean Startup Project, Inclusive Workforce for Arctic Ocean Technology, and the Indigenous Career Pivot Pilot, the cluster is working on better understanding barriers for participation of under-represented groups in the ocean economy, helping bridge the gap with mentorship, training, and employment, as well as support for those who wish to start and grow an ocean company.
Sean Leet of Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services is an employer participating in the Indigenous Career Pivot Pilot which is designed to provide mid-career Indigenous people the opportunity to pivot to a career in the ocean economy. He considers it not only an important opportunity for Indigenous people who may have not otherwise pursued a career in ocean, but also for employers who gain so much from the knowledge and experience of their new employees.
The collaborative networks being built through the Ocean Supercluster are highlighting new ways for companies to work together and the realization that we can increase our pace of sustainable development by partnering.
“Our First Nations partnerships have provided wonderful opportunities for learning and growth, fostering a high degree of creativity that has taken our entrepreneurial culture to a new level,” says Leet. “The collaborative networks being built through the Ocean Supercluster are highlighting new ways for companies to work together and the realization that we can increase our pace of sustainable development by partnering.”
He adds one of many reasons he’s encouraged to see the promotion of inclusive growth in the ocean economy is because diversity in his own workforce has underpinned the company’s growth strategy and been key to its success.
Battery Tech to Make Marine Transport More Energy Efficient
Executive Vice President of Strategy & Business Planning, Corvus Energy
BC-led Ocean Supercluster project attempts to drive up battery power — and drive down emissions — on larger marine vessels.
A new BC-led Ocean Supercluster project is taking aim at helping larger marine vessels lower their greenhouse gas emissions by way of novel battery-based Energy Storage Systems (ESS).
Officially dubbed the Field Validation of Energy Storage System Project and led by Corvus Energy together with partners Seaspan Ferries, VARD, the University of British Columbia, and BC Hydro, it involves building and installing a trial unit of the Blue Whale ESS onboard a cargo ferry operated by Seaspan Ferries. The goal in the development of the ESS is to improve the battery room energy density and reduce the cost of multi-megawatt hour systems.
“The target for Blue Whale are large vessels — cruise ships, cargo ships, and large ferries — that travel in emissions-controlled areas, such as harbours, coastal routes, fjords, and inland waterways,” says Sean Puchalski, EVP of Strategy and Business Planning at Corvus Energy.
In battery-hybrid mode, these vessels are 15 to 30 percent more fuel-efficient, reducing greenhouse gas, and particulate emissions. With full battery-power, these massive ESSs allow vessels to operate for longer periods of time, with zero emissions.
He adds that validating this ESS, particularly its design, manufacturing, installation procedures and performance, will be critical to completing the final design and obtaining marine authority certification from the Canadian government.