The federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is lending just shy of a combined $1 million to a trio of ocean technology companies.

ABCO Industries of Lunenburg is borrowing $536,802, Halifax-based ReelData is borrowing $250,000 and Dartmouth Ocean Technologies is borrowing $210,000.

Founded in 1947, ABCO industries is not a startup, but rather a shipyard with a growing focus on innovative business, including supplying the Coast Guard with research vessels. ABCO will use its share of the money to build a prototype of a hybrid boat and develop software for controlling electric vessels, as a stepping stone towards commercializing a planned electric pleasure craft.

ReelData, meanwhile, sells artificial intelligence software for land-based aquaculture. Its first product ReelAppetite was an AI system for determining how much feed should be given to fish, thereby reducing waste. Its second offering, called ReelBiomass, helps fish farm operators track biomass — essentially estimating the weight of fish. In January, the company raised US$8 million, or C$10.7 million at the time.

Co-Founders Hossein Salimian and Matt Zimola will use their loan to establish a manufacturing facility to build a camera system designed to integrate with their AI systems.

“The assistance from ACOA to establish this facility is key to ReelData's international sales plans,” said Zimola in a statement. “Our team can now manufacture, test, and iterate on designs of underwater cameras in-house, and our ability to train AI models which will utilize this hardware has expanded with the acquisition of local compute resources.”

And Dartmouth Ocean Technologies, or DOT, is the creation of president Arnold Furlong and Director of Innovation Roger Race. The company was founded in April 2019, initially to carry out a large service contract for a piece of equipment that Furlong had previously sold to St. John’s-based underwater imaging specialist PanGeo Subsea, now owned by Kraken Robotics.

Now, DOT sells a range of sensors and environmental DNA monitoring equipment — technology for tracking organic matter shed by organisms — and plans to use the ACOA money to commercialize its technology with a focus on the aquaculture, research, energy, defence and public health markets.