Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy - FORCE)

Ocean Startup Challenge returns with $1.4M up for grabs for ocean innovators

The Ocean Startup Project has launched its second Ocean Startup Challenge, making available up to $1.4 million to ocean innovators across Canada and around the world.

Illustration (Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy - FORCE)
Illustration (Courtesy of Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy – FORCE)

Sectors of particular interest include offshore energy, fisheries and aquaculture, marine bioresources, naval and defence, and shipping and marine transportation.

Up from last year’s $350,000 in prize money, the 2021 edition of the competition will support innovators and companies by awarding them funding, training, mentorship and industry support.

“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 at 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 the following three streams linked to a company or innovator’s stage and market opportunity:

  • IDEA – multiple early-stage teams will each receive up to $25,000,
  • GROWTH – multiple early-stage companies, having made traction and achieved notable milestones, will each receive up to $100,000,
  • OCEANSHOT – up to one early-stage company tackling ambitious, uncharted problems that will lead to massive market opportunities will receive up to $200,000 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).

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.

Gavin Andrews, CEO and co-founder of Mabel Systems, which was among the 14 winners of the 2020 Ocean Startup Challenge, said: “The Ocean Startup Project has allowed us to accelerate our product development, and the network it provides is invaluable. The other cohort members are incredibly talented entrepreneurs and we are very fortunate to be able to learn from them”.

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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 as well as 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.