Ocean Startup Challenge

Since our inception in 2020, we’ve invested more than $1.4 million in funding to support 43 pioneering teams dedicated to solving some of the ocean industry’s most pressing challenges.

The Ocean Startup Challenge has established itself as a beacon for entrepreneurs and innovators, offering a unique platform to transform visionary ideas into reality. With Canada’s unparalleled coastline, world-class experts, research facilities, a vibrant talent pool, and comprehensive government support, there’s no better place to start and scale your ocean tech venture.

In 2022, we honed our focus on idea and early-stage startups operating at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 4 or below. Our aim was to foster innovations that not only leveraged Canada’s rich ocean resources but also addressed global oceanic challenges.

Winners of previous Challenges received up to $40,000 in awards, alongside an array of invaluable business development resources. This included tailored programming, mentorship, direct access to our Executives-in-Residence, industry experts, networking opportunities, and more. By joining our program, innovators became part of an elite group of more than 80 innovative ocean technology companies that have benefited from our support since 2020.

As we look to the future, we’re excited to continue supporting groundbreaking ocean tech ventures. Discover the trailblazers of yesterday, today, and tomorrow by exploring our alumni from Cohort 1, Cohort 2, and Cohort 3!

Here’s what previous Ocean Startup Challenge winners have accomplished to date

300+ jobs created nationally (and counting!)

$7.5-million+ in non-dilutive funding

*raised collectively by past winners from our 2020 and 2021 cohorts

$8.5-million+ in equity investment

*since working with OSP

6 continued onto CDL-Oceans

Program Timeline:

  • Applications open: TBA
  • Program Information Sessions (French and English): TBA

*These virtual sessions will occur by Zoom; specific dates will be shared on our Eventbrite page
Office Hours: TBA

  • Application deadline: TBA
  • Shortlist announced: TBA
  • Shortlist preparatory session: TBA
  • Shortlist interviews: TBA
  • Winners announced & Virtual Awards Gala: TBA

Previous Challenge Statements

Industry and thought leaders identified top pain points across these areas:


We’re looking for innovative solutions to help improve water quality, fish health, waste management, pathogen recognition, remote sensing, data collection, autonomous control, inspection and maintenance, and address other industry challenges.

Challenge Statements


We’re looking for innovative solutions to help increase efficiency, enhance marine security, optimize maritime traffic management, improve yard operations, optimize truck turnaround times, reduce environmental impact on local communities, and address other industry challenges.

Challenge Statements


We’re looking for innovative solutions to help increase energy efficiency, enhance marine security, monitor disruptions to marine habitats, optimize maritime traffic management, improve sustainability and increase profitability, and address other industry challenges.

Challenge Statements


We’re looking for innovative solutions to help identify bio-active compounds in marine life, characterize biodiversity in marine environments, repel and exterminate sea lice naturally, enhance the microbiome in common fish species to improve fish health and performance, and address other industry challenges.

Challenge Statements


We’re looking for innovative solutions to help improve ocean monitoring, enhance communications and data telemetry systems, reduce strain on human resources, increase cybersecurity for marine assets, provide low-logistics underwater measurement and surveillance, and address other industry challenges.

Challenge Statements

We’ve partnered with industry experts to highlight Innovation Spotlights!

These are areas for entrepreneurs to explore solutions for real-world ocean problems

General Eligibility

  • Entrants must be the majority owners of the company.
  • Winners must have a registered business in Canada (see below for International Applicants) 
  • Existing companies must have been in business for less than three years, and have less than five full-time employees
  • have a TRL of four or lower


International Applicants

  • Entrants may apply from around the world, but must establish a presence and partnership in Canada
  • Any funds received from the Ocean Startup Challenge must be spent in Canada (e.g. equipment, materials, consultants).
  • Must demonstrate how you will leverage Canada to advance your venture through one of the following:
  • 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
  • Entrants need to incorporate their company (or be a registered business) in one of the Canadian provinces or territories before funds will be released
Ready to apply?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ocean Startup Challenge?

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 $750,000 CAD to entrepreneurs and startup teams that are developing solutions to major ocean industry challenges.

Who is eligible to apply for the Challenge?

We encourage individual/teams of all backgrounds and experiences to submit an application, providing they are in the idea/early stages of developing an ocean technology company.

Specifically, we are looking for companies with a TRL of 4 and below for the 2022 competition.

Applicants must also be:

  • pre-revenue
  • pre-institutional investment
  • have no sales prior to the application deadline

Innovators, entrepreneurs and companies from across Canada and around the world may apply for the Challenge, but winners must register an entity in a Canadian province/territory, or federally.

Applicants from an existing company must be the majority owner(s) of the company.

How do I apply for the Challenge?

Before applying, we recommend you review the Challenge’s information kit; it is available in both French and English.

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, September 1, 2022.

How does the Challenge work?

Key dates program application and selection:

  • Office hours: August 22 to 31, 2022
  • Application deadline: Monday, September 1, 2022
  • Shortlist announced: Monday, October 3, 2022
  • Shortlist interviews: Friday, October 14 to Friday, October 21, 2022
  • Winners announced & Virtual Gala Awards: Thursday, October 27, 2022
Who will review and evaluate applications?

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.

How will my application be evaluated (e.g., evaluation criteria)?

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:

  • People: The team, background and entrepreneurial (or business) track record of key individuals, ability to execute, demonstrable ambition and commitment to the venture’s success
  • Pain point: a clearly defined problem that prospective customers of your business are experiencing
  • Solution: Description and quantification of the market problem/pain, uniqueness and significance of product, current stage of development, proprietary position
  • Competition: High barrier to competitive entry
  • Market: Large, growing international market
  • Execution: Credible plan to reach key milestones
When will I know if I’m a successful applicant?

All entrants will be included in Round 1, and teams selected for Round 2 will be notified Tuesday, October 3, 2022.

What is the intellectual property policy for the Challenge?

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.

What kind of support will I receive if I’m selected as a finalist?

Winners will receive in-kind support from our program partners. Stay tuned for more details.

How long would I have to use the funds to develop my solution?

Successful applicants will have until March 17, 2023 to submit expenses related to achieving pre-determined milestones.

Is there an information package with all the Challenge details available?

Yes! You can find all the information related to the Ocean Startup Challenge in both French and English.

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