Ocean Startup Challenge
We provided over $1.4 million in funding to entrepreneurs developing solutions to ocean industry challenges
We help turn entrepreneurs ideas or technology into a wave of opportunity! With the world’s longest coastline, globally renowned research facilities and experts, government programs and supports, and a steady flow of talent, Canada is the right place to start or grow a successful ocean tech company. The Ocean Startup Challenge is supporting innovators who are leveraging Canadian ocean assets and capabilities to develop technologies that can be applied to global ocean problems. The 2021 finalists have been awarded and will spend the following months taking part in workshops and mentorship programming. Stay tuned for more information about our 2022 Ocean Startup Challenge.
Winners must have an incorporated company in Canada before funds are released. See below for International Applicant criteria.
Applicants must be the majority owners of the company.
Existing companies must have been in business for under five years and have 15 or few employees.
Applicants from around the world may apply for the Growth and Oceanshot competition streams.
Any funds received from the Ocean Startup Challenge must be spent in Canada (e.g. equipment, materials, consultants).
International applicants must demonstrate how they will leverage Canada to advance their venture. The following are examples of how you can leverage Canadian assets:
- Have a letter of support from a Canadian incubator or accelerator
- Have a Memorandum of Understanding with a Canadian facility, organization, partner, or customer that can support the development of your technology in Canada
International applicants need to incorporate their company in one of the Canadian provinces, territories or Federally before funds will be released.
- Applications open: March 30, 2021
- Information sessions: April 14, 2021 & May 4, 2021
- Applications close: June 1, 2021
- Round 1 shortlist notified: July 6, 2021
- Round 1 interviews: July 26-August 10, 2021
- Round 2 shortlist announced: August 18, 2021
- Round 2 presentations: September 8-14, 2021
- Winners notified: September 22, 2021
- Virtual Awards Gala: October 5, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
The Ocean Startup Challenge is a competition seeking innovative solutions to ocean industry problems. The Ocean Startup Project launched the Challenge to support innovators who are developing technologies with large market potential in the ocean economy.
This year, we will distribute $1.4 million CAD to entrepreneurs and startup teams that are developing solutions to major ocean industry challenges.
We encourage individual or team applications from innovators of any gender, entrepreneurial Indigenous Peoples, and companies that have been in business for under five years and have fewer than 15 employees.
Innovators, entrepreneurs and companies from across Canada and around the world may apply for the Growth and Oceanshot Challenge Streams, but winners must register an entity in one of the Canadian provinces or territories, or federally.
Applicants from an existing company must be the majority owners of the company.
Before applying, we recommend you review the Challenge’s information kit here.
You may apply online through our application page. We recommend writing your answers to the questions using a Word or Google document, and then copying and pasting your answers into the web form. Please note, you are not able to save and continue at a later time.
Apply before the Challenge deadline: 11:59 pm ADT, June 1, 2021.
The competition will have two rounds. Below is the process for winner selection.
Round 1: Top applicants from the initial review will be invited to participate in round one. During this round, the focus will be on customer discovery. Interviews will be held with each company.
- Round 1 shortlist announced: Tuesday, July 6, 2021
- Invite-only information session: Tuesday, July 13, 2021
- Customer-focused workshop: Tuesday, July 13, 2021
- Pitch workshop: Tuesday, July 20, 2021
- Company interviews: July 26-August 10, 2021
Round 2: The top 30-40 applicants will participate in this round. Each company will give a pitch presentation to a judging panel.
- Round 2 shortlist announced: Wednesday, August 18, 2021
- Shortlist information session: Thursday, August 19, 2021
- One-on-one support: August 19-September 7, 2021
- Pitch presentation: September 8-14, 2021
- Winners announced: Wednesday, September 22, 2021
- Virtual Gala Awards: Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Note: Selection of the Round 1 applicants will be based on the application provided and feedback from reviewers.
Applications will be reviewed by an evaluation committee that includes Ocean Startup Project representatives and industry experts who are knowledgeable about the specific sectors and technologies highlighted in the challenge statements.
In selecting the competition winners, the quality of the idea/technology, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions.
Key criteria for evaluation include:
- Pain & Solution: Describes and quantifies the pain or problem, and proposes a feasible and scalable solution that provides a unique value to customers.
- People: Demonstrates the team is committed to the venture and has relevant experience and skills to execute, or identifies areas where there may be gaps.
- Competition: Clearly identifies sustainable competitive advantage, why there is a high barrier to
competitive entry, and how to overcome the barrier and get market traction.
- Market: Identifies a large, growing international market and demonstrates understanding of potential customers.
- Impact of Funds: Demonstrates how funds will have a significant impact on helping reach key milestones.
Shortlisted companies will be contacted via email on August 18, 2021.
Applicants will retain ownership of any intellectual property associated with their application. All applications will be treated confidentially. Only those individuals directly involved in managing or judging the competition will view your submitted documents.
Winners will receive in-kind support from the following partners: Cox & Palmer, BDO Canada, RBC, OceansAdvance, DeepSense, Emergence, Emera ideaHUB, Startup Zone PEI, IGNITE, Enginuity, Volta and Start-Up Yard at COVE. More details and supporters announced soon.
Successful applicants will have until May 31, 2022 to submit expenses related to achieving pre-determined milestones.
Yes! You can find all the information related to the Ocean Startup Challenge here.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the Ocean Startup Challenge.