A new local program aims to encourage sustainable innovation in the ocean | So Good News
The COAST Venture Acceleration Program connects entrepreneurs with mentorship and resources
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Victoria’s Innovation Hub is working to help entrepreneurs take their ocean sustainability ideas to life in the rising tide of the blue economy.
The Center for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) partners with VIATEC to provide early stage technology entrepreneurs with mentorship, guidance, investors, workshops and more. launched the COAST Venture Acceleration program to connect.
The Enterprise Acceleration Program is a tried and true program that has been helping entrepreneurs for nearly a decade in BC, said Emily de Rosenroll, CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership and interim CEO of COAST. But this new program is open only to COAST members and focuses specifically on the blue economy: a term that describes businesses involved in the control, sustainable use and preservation of the marine environment. De Rosenroll says the program’s goal is to help create opportunities for those looking for different ways to build sustainable oceans and coastlines by transforming existing industries or creating something entirely new.
Successful applicants can do anything from decarbonizing transportation to sustainable aquaculture to sequestering carbon in the ocean.
Currently, the ocean and maritime industry accounts for almost 10% of the province’s gross domestic product. Provincial industry includes transportation giants such as Seaspan and global marine and aeronautical engineering specialist Babcock Canada, as well as more than 100 firms in the ocean science and technology space such as Open Ocean Robotics and MarineLabs.
Three-quarters of the province’s ocean technology companies are on Vancouver Island, with the majority in the South Island. In particular, Victoria is a world leader in ocean data collection, led by UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada, which operates ocean observatories that collect real-time ocean data for changes in salinity, nutrients and other ocean properties.
The global ocean economy will double from 2020 to 2030 to $3 trillion. This is 20% higher than expected growth in the broader economy.
“It’s a big opportunity,” de Rosenroll said. “Furthermore, as climate change becomes a more pressing issue, the ocean is at the forefront of many of the climate solutions the world needs.”
That’s why the innovation hub was created to create a thriving local startup ecosystem focused on creating the most sustainable marine environment possible. But there are still difficulties in implementing ideas.
“Historically, investors have thought that ocean technology is a risky area to invest in because it’s mostly about hardware, and people think about the very uncertain and unstable conditions of the ocean,” de Rosenroll said.
As many of the technologies that are transforming the maritime sector are advanced technologies in BC creation, such as remotely piloted vehicles, remote sensors, AI and machine learning, hardware becomes a challenge.
The accelerator program not only connects entrepreneurs with investors, but also helps ensure that the idea is solid and low-risk.
“The program helps early-stage companies go through a rigorous process of validating their assumptions,” de Rosenroll said.
Economists have predicted a five-fold return on investment over the next 30 years in the blue-chip world.
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