The Ocean Startup Project is a pan-regional group dedicated to identifying and nurturing early-stage oceantech companies, not just in Atlantic Canada but across Canada and elsewhere. The group’s major initiative is the Ocean Startup Challenge, which is an accelerator for oceantech companies.
In its first year in 2020, the Ocean Startup Challenge put up $350,000 in prize money and welcomed 14 companies into the program, most of them based in Atlantic Canada.
"Canada's ocean economy is strengthened by the addition of new companies that are ambitious enough to take on big challenges," said Ocean Startup Project Executive Director Don Grant in a statement. "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."
The new cohort of the Ocean Startup Challenge will feature three streams to accommodate companies at various stages of development, and participants in each stream will receive non-dilutive funds to help them grow. The streams are:
- IDEA – Several early-stage teams will each receive up to $25,000.
- GROWTH – More advanced companies that have achieved traction and achieved notable milestones, will each receive up to $100,000.
- OCEANSHOT – If the judges determine one company is tackling ambitious, uncharted problems that will lead to massive market opportunities, that company will receive up to $200,000 in prize money. If no Oceanshot prize is awarded, the money will be distributed in the other streams.
The judges will also announce three special awards specifically for Women Entrepreneurs, Indigenous Founders, and Impact (a startup dedicated to technology for ocean sustainability). These awards are worth as much as $25,000 in each category.
International candidates may apply for the Growth and Oceanshot streams, but they must show how they will leverage the Canadian ecosystem to advance their venture. This could include having a letter of support from a Canadian incubator or accelerator, or having a memorandum of understanding with a Canadian partner or customer.
The Ocean Startup Challenge is intended for companies developing technology 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.
In addition to the funding, finalists will receive access to mentors and virtual bootcamps, connections to industry members and ecosystem leaders, and key resources.
The applications are open until June 1 and can be found here. The winners will be announced Sept. 22.