The Ocean Communities Climate Challenge is a new competition to find promising ideas that may only be a ripple in an innovator or entrepreneur’s mind. The Ocean Startup Project and its partners want to transform strong ideas into massively scalable companies that will improve the health of our oceans and help solve some of the most pressing climate challenges. 

Canada’s ocean startup ecosystem is growing rapidly. The Ocean Communities Climate Challenge showcases the nation’s increasing engagement in the Blue Economy. Representing diverse coastal areas, the following partners have teamed with the Ocean Startup Project to launch this competition: Port Alberni (BC), Rimouski (QC), and Yarmouth (NS). The challenges, identified along with our partners, raise awareness of scalable opportunities to provide innovative solutions. Along with many other parts of this country, these communities are actively engaging in the Blue Economy, recognizing its transformative potential, and are seeking innovators and entrepreneurs to solve challenges.

“Port Alberni is honoured to be partnering with Rimouski, Yarmouth and the Ocean Startup Project in the Ocean Communities Climate Challenge. The Indigenous communities here remind us ‘the ocean is our garden.’ Our concern for the health of the ocean as well as our optimism for the social and economic opportunities in the Blue Economy drive our engagement in this challenge,” says Sharie Minions, Mayor of Port Alberni. “We wish good luck to all who respond and look forward to seeing the variety and depth of the solutions that are posed.”

The Ocean Startup Project offers resources, mentorship and support to turn sustainably focused ideas (individuals or teams) into startups. This new competition focuses on supporting people, from coast to coast to coast, who are passionate about oceans and who have an idea or a skill set that would help ocean communities do any of the following better:

  • monitor and predict ocean conditions
  • transition to become net-zero port communities
  • create resilient communities with circular economies (where nothing is wasted)
  • preserve and leverage natural assets 

“Collaboration across this country, like the Ocean Communities Climate Challenge, is how Canada is going to build a world class ocean startup ecosystem. The opportunities in the Blue Economy are vast and it is Innovation and entrepreneurship that will harness the economic opportunity, but also solve the most pressing issues our oceans and planet face,” says Donald Grant, Executive Director of the Ocean Startup Project. “We are fortunate to have so many communities across this country that are awakening to the opportunity in the Blue Economy,  and we commend our partners for stepping up and actively pursuing the incredible potential that exists.”

The Ocean Communities Climate Challenge will kick off with an event on May 16 where registrants will be invited to connect with other participants and pitch their ideas or skills to those who are looking to form a team. They will then receive support to dive deeper into the challenge they wish to solve during a customer discovery sprint. 

A judging committee will evaluate the participants’ progress and choose up to three winners. The winning teams will gain cash prizes for their ingenuity and to support them as they continue to build out their ideas. Innovation and ocean ecosystem partners are also stepping up to help, including:Ignite(NS), Novarium (QC), and the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) (BC). 

Anyone with ideas may register for the Ocean Communities Climate Challenge before the deadline: May 11, 2023. Full registration details are available from Community events and an information session will be held to explore the challenge statements, answer questions, and connect participants to potential teammates. These future events are open to registered participants and anyone with an interest.

About the Ocean Startup Project

The Ocean Startup Project inspires, initiates and invests in early stage entrepreneurs, making Canada the best place in the world to start and grow an ocean company. The project team creates and delivers activities to support ideation through commercialization, for innovators and entrepreneurs from industry to academia. As a co-funded national collaboration, the Ocean Startup Project offerings complement existing industry accelerators, incubators and other support organizations across Canada’s world class innovation ecosystem. 

Our activities are possible thanks to support from Canada’s Ocean SuperCluster, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and our partners: Genesis Centre (NL), Invest Nova Scotia formerly Innovacorp (NS), Creative Destruction Lab (CDL – Atlantic), New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NB), Prince Edward Island BioAlliance (PE), Springboard Atlantic, Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (BC), and Technopole Maritime du Québec (QC). Together with our partners, the Ocean Startup Project is accelerating how homegrown startups get their technologies to market and is attracting international companies to Canada’s shores.