The Ocean Startup Project has launched its second Ocean Startup Challenge. Up from last year’s $350,000 in prize money, the 2021 edition of the competition will award up to $1.4 million to ocean innovators and entrepreneurs from rural, Indigenous, and urban communities across Canada and internationally.
The Ocean Startup Challenge seeks to find and support innovators and companies by awarding them funding, training, mentorship, and industry support. Applicants are welcome if they are in the earliest stages of developing products or technologies that can help solve industry challenges in a sustainable manner. Sectors of particular interest include fisheries and aquaculture, marine bioresources, offshore energy, naval and defence, and shipping and marine transportation.
“Canada’s ocean economy is strengthened by the addition of new companies that are ambitious enough to take on big challenges,” said Don Grant, executive director of the Ocean Startup Project. “This year’s Ocean Startup Challenge will build on the momentum we are seeing in Canada’s ocean sector by drawing out innovative ideas and accelerating the development of new ocean tech companies.”
In 2021, the funds from the $1.4 million will go to winners based on three streams linked to a company or innovator’s stage and market opportunity:
- IDEA—multiple early-stage teams will each receive up to $25K.
- GROWTH—multiple early-stage companies, having made traction and achieved notable milestones, will each receive up to $100K.
- OCEANSHOT—up to one early-stage company tackling ambitious, uncharted problems that will lead to massive market opportunities will receive up to $200K prize.
Additionally, up to three special awards will be issued specifically for: women entrepreneurs, Indigenous founders, and Impact (a startup dedicated to technology for ocean sustainability).
Applicants from across Canada and around the world are encouraged to apply. In addition to the funding, finalists will receive access to engaged mentors and innovators, training through virtual bootcamps, connections to industry members and ecosystem leaders, and key resources needed to succeed.
Nova Scotia-based Gavin Andrews, CEO and co-founder of Mabel Systems was among the 14 winners of the 2020 Ocean Startup Challenge. “The Ocean Startup Project has allowed us to accelerate our product development, and the network it provides is invaluable,” said Andrews. “The other cohort members are incredibly talented entrepreneurs and we are very fortunate to be able to learn from them.”
Like in the inaugural year, shortlisted applicants who are not selected as winners during the Challenge competition still stand to benefit from training through invitation-only, virtual bootcamps. They will also receive guidance and support from partnering organizations in the Canadian ecosystem.
The Ocean Startup Challenge is led by the Ocean Startup Project, a pan-Atlantic collaboration to create and grow high-quality ocean technology companies and attract more ventures to the region’s ecosystem. The pan-Atlantic collaborators and co-funders include: Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)—Atlantic, Genesis, Innovacorp, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, PEI BioAlliance, and Springboard Atlantic.
Additionally, the Ocean Startup Project counts on its supporters: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, and the governments of all four Atlantic provinces. Sponsors of the Ocean Startup Challenge include: Cox & Palmer, BMO Canada, RBC, OceansAdvance, DeepSense, Port of Halifax, Emergence, Startup Zone PEI, Emera ideaHUB, Genesis, IGNITE, Enginuity, SEATAC, En Point, and Start-Up Yard at COVE.
More information about the Ocean Startup Challenge is available here.