Halifax’s Net-Zero Edge, or NZE, is joining the 10-week Bluetech Boost accelerator from Gulf of Maine Ventures, the investment arm of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute oceantech hub in Portland, Maine.
Founded last year by blue economy veteran Kyle Burton — who has previously worked at Dartmouth’s Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship and former venture capital Crown corporation Innovacorp — NZE is developing technology to place data centres on the seafloor with the aim of delivering more efficient cooling and saving on real estate and infrastructure costs. The company previously did business under the name Gazpek.
The Bluetech Boost program, meanwhile, offers oceans entrepreneurs mentorship and the chance to apply for non-dilutive funding.
“We're particularly enthusiastic about working with researchers at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute,” said NZE on LinkedIn. “Their expertise in ocean warming science will be instrumental in modeling the environmental impact of subsea data centers at scale and will shape our site selection optimization for NZE's subsea data center pods on the seafloor.
“We're also exploring potential partnerships with the U.S. Navy and military, harnessing the significant physical security enhancements inherent in subsea environments to bolster data center operations.”
NZE was inspired partly by Microsoft’s Project Natick, a multi-year research program aimed at gauging the feasibility of subsea data centres powered by renewable energy. Engineers sank their server equipment in 117 feet of water off Scotland’s Northern Isles and left it in operation there for two years.
Project Natick ended in 2020 and concluded that underwater data storage was a viable technology likely to be “reliable, practical and use energy sustainably.”
The model offers significant benefits compared to land-based server farms. Burton said in November the land for terrestrial data centres can sometimes cost over $1 million an acre, while land on the seafloor off the Atlantic coast of the United States can sell for as little as US$4 an acre. And the seawater can aid in cooling, reducing the ever-present concerns about overheating that plague conventional data centres.