The first Ocean Startup Challenge has awarded $25,000 each to 14 companies – 40 percent more winners than it had originally planned.

Organizers had intended to announce 10 winners but said the judges decided to extend the group of winners to 14 due to the calibre of the startups. As well as all four Atlantic Provinces, the winners are based in British Columbia, Ontario and Washington, D.C.

The competition was launched in June by the Ocean Startup Project, part of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, to encourage the development of more early-stage companies developing oceans-related technology. Thirty shortlisted companies – chosen from 158 applications – attended bootcamps followed by pitching sessions.

“The winners of the Ocean Startup Challenge showed strong potential to build globally competitive, market-focused solutions,” Melody Pardoe, Chief Engagement Officer of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, said in a statement.

“Through the judging process it became clear that more and more innovators are identifying and pursuing opportunities in ocean sectors, and we're very excited to see these teams advance their business through the Ocean Startup Project and contribute to Canada's economic growth.”

Half of the winning companies have women founders or co-founders, and two have founders or co-founders with Indigenous roots, said the statement.

The following is the list of winners:

  • 3F Waste Recovery (Main Brook, NL) is a life sciences manufacturer focused on converting fisheries and natural resource waste into natural food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredients.
  • Blue Lion Labs (Waterloo, Ont.) provides fish farmers with early warnings about sea lice by using an underwater camera system powered by artificial intelligence.
  • Glas Ocean Electric (Halifax) converts existing and new boats to electric propulsion and is developing dual-purpose boat batteries so they can store dynamic energy. 
  • Grand River Robotics (Waterloo, Ont.) is developing robotic inspection platforms with connected web-based data back-ends. Its underwater IOT device aims to ensure fishing crews lose fewer fish by imaging fish nets so holes can be repaired quickly.
  • In Nature Robotics (Hanwell, NB) makes autonomous, solar-powered airboats to survey inland and coastal waters. Its boats are designed to be simple, easy to use, and able to add equipment.
  • (Canoe Cove, PE) makes direct-to-metal coatings from fish waste that can protect marine vessels and structures in harsh environments. Its solution saves users more than 30 percent on material and labour, while increasing or maintaining asset lifetime and reducing toxin exposure.
  • Marecomms Inc. (Halifax) makes robust broadband wireless communication solutions for maritime environments. Its RObust Acoustic Modem product has been tested several times in challenging ocean environments and shown to offer nearly 200 times faster connection speeds than existing solutions with enhanced reliability.
  • qualiTEAS (St. John’s) is developing an AI-integrated image analysis software for near-real-time detection of corrosion and cracks on subsea vessels and structures.
  • SeaChange Biochemistry Inc. (Clark’s Harbour, NS) creates chemicals for industry from sustainably harvested seaweed through an innovative biorefinery process.
  • SeaHawk Robotics (Vancouver) has developed multi-domain UAV-based ocean observation systems that improve access, increase safety, and reduce costs of data collection.
  • Subait Inc. (Dartmouth) uses seafood co-products to develop a sustainable lobster bait substitute, replacing environmentally challenging fish species.
  • Tracker Inventory Systems (Sydney) provides aquaculture and seafood-processing facilities automated inventory systems to reduce operating costs and provide production visibility for management and sales. Its solution uses computer vision technology to automate data entry, which eliminates manual and error-prone processes.
  • Virgil Group LLC (Washington, D.C.) is developing legal fisheries analysis software that improves traceability and other issues in responsible seafood.
  • WeavAir (Toronto) provides hardware and software to monitor emissions from engines, including those in marine vessels. Its predictive algorithms promote regulation compliance and lower operation costs for ship owners, ship managers and port operation teams.