Ignite Labs, in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship, hosted Launch Oceans – an oceans-startup weekend this past weekend. 

Teams comprised of students, researchers and community members worked on ocean-related venture ideas, interacted with ocean industry experts to validate the problems they were addressing, (potential contacts for their career or a new business venture) and pitched their startups to judges for prize money. Entrepreneurs from the oceans industry participated in the weekend event as mentors.

The top prize was awarded to Scott Dauphinee and Alex Stevenson founders of Oyster Pyramid, developing a solution to help oyster farmers turn oyster bed cages. The second place prize went to Carol Harrison, founder of Smart Start, an environmental product that helps start fires made from recycled fish boxes diverted from landfill sites, while Jonathan Skjelmose, founder of Black Watch Tech, developing a solution to help rescue fishermen (and pleasure boaters) who fall into the water placed third.

In addition, two Junior Women’s Entrepreneurship prizes, donated by the Municipality of Yarmouth, the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE), Innovacorp and Ignite Labs were awarded, with the top prize of $2,000 awarded to Danielle Surette and Kristin Baldursdottir, the founders of Captain Buoy, which is developing a device that saves time and money for lobster fishers by tracking lobsters in traps and sending notifications to fishers. The second-place prize in this category was awarded to Laura Jones, founder of Sea Jewel, creating ocean-inspired jewelry from recycled shells. 

Doug Jones, Executive Director of Ignite Labs, says “One of the key areas of focus of Ignite Labs is to help develop new and innovative ideas and business focused on the Ocean Sector.  Launch Oceans is the perfect platform for new ideas to be put into action.  The relationship between Dalhousie University and Ignite Labs allows us to create a link between entrepreneurs and students from Southwestern Nova Scotia and Halifax and provide access to expertise and mentorship to help these ventures grow.  We are excited to collaborate with Dalhousie University for future events at Ignite” ………………………………………..

The Launch Oceans program was developed 3 years ago by Dr. Mary Kilfoil, Director of Dalhousie’s Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship, in an effort to identify challenges remaining in the ocean sector and utilize the talent and knowledge from the province’s universities, colleges, community members and oceans sector industry experts to come up with ideas to solve these problems. 

As pointed out by Dr. Kilfoil, “the desired result is to develop robust startups that tackle real problems identified by participating companies in the oceans sector.” 

Teams attending the Yarmouth Launch Oceans event will benefit from a follow-on mentorship program offered by Innovar Inc. which will provide a series of workshops on validating problem-solution fit, connections to ocean industry experts and mentoring the firms’ on their go-to-market strategies. It is the intent of the Launch Oceans program to provide further mentorship for these teams from experts in the oceans sector as they build proof of concept and enter the market. Previous Launch Oceans teams are now resident firms at COVE – a partner organization and collaborator with Ignite Labs.

All teams are also invited to attend the Launch Oceans startup weekend event to be held in late March at Dalhousie University’s Surge sandbox. This Launch Oceans event will support the efforts of Dr. Aaron Newman, Director of Surge, the oceans and science-related sandbox at Dalhousie University. 

The Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) is a collaborative facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. COVE’s mission is to propel the ocean economy by providing high quality marine infrastructure and a collaborative space in which a community of ocean enterprises can start, grow and prosper.

Ignite Labs is an arm’s length think (and do) tank, where smart entrepreneurial people work together to solve complex business problems and develop new and innovative products. By providing structure, mentoring and partnerships for startup companies to operate in a lean startup environment, solve problems and prototype outside of the corporate world. Ignite Labs encourages entrepreneurial growth in the technology sector, the oceans sector and the tourism sector in the Southwestern Region of Nova Scotia.