About Us

Our goal is to kickstart and nurture new, high-quality ocean startups in Canada. We also encourage existing startups to pursue ocean applications for their technologies.

With our ocean lens, we create and deliver activities supporting ideation through commercialization, and our offerings complement existing industry accelerators, incubators and other support organizations across the innovation ecosystem.

Our Approach

Essentially, the Ocean Startup Project’s role is to:

INSPIRE

by promoting ocean entrepreneurship and developing innovative mindsets

INITIATE

by providing resources and mentorship to initiate new ocean companies

INVEST

by connecting ocean companies to programs and funds that can fuel their growth

Our founding partners and supporters

Our activities are possible thanks to support from OSC, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and our six pan-Atlantic founding partners: Genesis Centre (NL), Innovacorp (NS), Creative Destruction Lab (CDL – Atlantic), New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NB), Prince Edward Island BioAlliance (PE) and Springboard Atlantic.

Their collective vision guides the Ocean Startup Project. By serving on our Steering Committee, executives from our partner organizations and OSC are involved in directing our activities and ensuring we meet or exceed our project milestones. They also have team members who actively lead specific project activities.

  • Springboard
  • PEI BioAlliance
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Our leadership

As a proud Atlantic Canadian and partner of LeeWay Marine, Donald Grant is no stranger to the Atlantic Ocean and ocean-related technology. In early 2020, he took the helm of the Ocean Startup Project to steer various activities designed to grow the quantity and quality of startups contributing to Canada’s ocean economy, beginning with Atlantic Canada.

For the Ocean Startup Project, Donald has drawn on his in-depth expertise in business development and law, his collaborative approaches and interpersonal skills, and his experience co-founding a startup, working at a multinational company and managing complex government projects. After completing his articling at BoyneClarke LLP and upon being admitted to the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society and the Canadian Bar Association, he worked at Boyne Clarke. Donald went on to serve as a Solicitor for Nova Scotia Power, a Lawyer, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Executive Director for the Government of Nova Scotia, and Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs at LeeWay Marine.

Outside of his work life, Donald keeps active by playing sports with his family and by serving as a board member and volunteer for not-for-profit organizations.

Frequently asked questions

What funding is available to me?

That depends on different factors: your startup’s technology readiness level;  whether you have an idea, a prototype or a validated technology; whether you’re a graduate student or an industry entrepreneur, etc. Through our Ocean Startup Challenge, anyone can compete for development funding to help validate ocean technology. Through our Lab2Market Oceans, graduate students at Canadian universities can apply for up to $15K. The Ocean Startup Project will also have grants of up to $200K for qualifying companies for the Challenge’s follow-on activities. Lastly, companies accepted into our Oceans cohort for Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic are paired with top-notch mentors to increase access to potential venture capital investments.

Do I need to be in Atlantic Canada to take part in the Ocean Startup Project?

No. People from all over Canada, Indigenous communities, and even around the world can take part in the Ocean Startup Project in some capacity. We want our activities to be as inclusive and accessible as possible. For example, our first Ocean Startup Challenge, winning companies came from six Canadian provinces and one state in the U.S.A. Fifty percent of those companies have women founders or co-founders, and two of the companies have founders or co-founders with Indigenous roots.

While our Challenge, info sessions, webinars, virtual meetups and other activities are open to participants regardless of geography, certain activities focus on training and mentorship for specific audiences. For example, our Lab2Market Oceans is only for graduate students enrolled at Canadian universities and the faculty supervisors or academic researchers who work with those students.

What is the difference between the Ocean Startup Project and Canada’s Ocean Supercluster?

The Ocean Startup Project is a two-year, pan-Atlantic project primarily focused on inspiring students, researchers and innovators to build and grow startups in Canada. The Ocean Startup Project leads activities and invests in startups that are poised to boost Canada’s ocean economy. The Ocean Startup Project was the first Innovation Ecosystem Project announced by Canada’s Ocean Supercluster. 

By contrast, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) has a broader, five-year mandate. OSC is an industry-led collaboration involving more than 320 industry and associate members, from organizations and companies of all sizes. With investments from across the country and linkages to international partners and Indigenous communities, OSC builds and funds larger projects to heighten Canada’s existing strengths, experience and knowledge, and open new opportunities.

Is the Ocean Startup Project an industry accelerator or an incubator?

Neither. The Ocean Startup Project complements them. The project creates and delivers activities to identify, potentially fund and funnel startups and entrepreneurs focused on ocean technology to incubators and accelerators. This includes those managed by our pan-Atlantic partners and other industry support organizations across Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

What are cohorts?

Cohort is a term that incubators and accelerators use to describe groups of entrepreneurs and startup teams being mentored, coached or incubated for a specific period of time. Three of the Ocean Startup Project’s activities involve cohorts: Lab2Market, CDL-Atlantic and the Ocean Startup Challenge. Lab2Market’s cohorts focus primarily on Canadian graduate students and their academic supervisors. CDL-Atlantic’s cohort focuses on ocean tech companies and will include up to 25 ventures. The Ocean Startup Challenge shortlists up to 30 companies to receive training and coaching, before selecting the final winners that form a smaller cohort that receives further support.

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