Ocean Startup Challenge

We’re providing up to $1.4 million in funding to entrepreneurs developing solutions to ocean industry challenges

Turn your idea 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 designed to support innovators who are leveraging Canadian ocean assets and capabilities to develop technologies that can be applied to global ocean problems.

Challenge Statements

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

FISHERIES & AQUACULTURE

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

SHIPPING & MARINE TRANSPORTATION

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

OFFSHORE ENERGY

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

MARINE BIORESOURCES

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

NAVAL & DEFENCE

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

Challenge Sponsors

Learn about the organizations supporting ocean innovation.

Learn More

Streams

This year, we’re launching special awards to provide extra support to ocean entrepreneurs:

IDEA

Designed for entrepreneurs or teams early in their development. This stream is for Canada-based entrepreneurs with ideas or pre-revenue ocean technology companies.

We’re looking for applicants who:

  • Are pre-revenue, pre-institutional investment
  • Have no sales prior to application deadline
  • Are a Canadian-based entity
  • Have a solution with a TRL 3 or lower

 

 

 

 

 

Up to $25,000

GROWTH

Designed for early stage companies with impressive milestones and some traction. This stream is for startups in Canada and around the world that would benefit from support and collaboration with Canadian ocean assets and facilities.

We’re looking for applicants who:

  • Have less than $300K in equity investment
  • Are the founder of the business venture and plan to work full-time in the business
  • Have a solution with a TRL 4 to TRL 7
  • Are registered as a Canadian entity

 

 

 

Up to $100,000

OCEANSHOT

Designed for applicants tackling uncharted problems with a large chance of failure, but if successful, will have a huge impact on ocean sustainability and create a massive market opportunity.

We’re looking for applicants who:

  • Have demonstrated a massive commercial market opportunity
  • Are leveraging Canadian facilities or ocean assets
  • Have a solution with a TRL 7 or lower
  • Have at least one person dedicated to the project full time
  • Have clear intention and plan for commercialization upon success
  • Are registered as a Canadian entity

 

 

Up to $200,000

General Eligibility

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.

International Applicants

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.

Special Awards

This year, we’re launching special awards to provide extra support to ocean entrepreneurs:

IMPACT AWARD

The Impact award, supported by BDO Canada, will support a startup developing a technology or science-based sustainable solution to help combat climate change, increase environmental monitoring capabilities, or restore ocean ecosystems. Up to one award will be dispersed.

In addition to the general eligibility for the Challenge streams, entrants must:

  • Demonstrate how their solution to an ocean industry challenge will have a positive environmental impact

$25,000

WOMEN OCEAN ENTREPRENEUR AWARD

The Women Ocean Entrepreneur Award, presented by Cox & Palmer, will support a startup developing a technology or science-based solution to an ocean industry challenge. Up to one award will be dispersed.

In addition to the general eligibility for the Challenge streams, entrants must:

  • Self-identify as a women and be based in a Canadian province or territory

 

 

$25,000

INDIGENOUS OCEAN ENTREPRENEUR AWARD

The Indigenous Ocean Entrepreneur Award will support an entrepreneur developing a technology or science-based solution for an ocean industry challenge. Up to one award will be dispersed.

In addition to the general eligibility for the Challenge streams, entrants must:

  • Self-identify as Indigenous (First Nation, Métis and Inuit)

 

 

$25,000

Key Dates

  • 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

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 $1.4 million 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 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.

How do I apply for the Challenge?

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.

How does the Challenge work?

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.  

Key dates:

  • 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.

Key dates:

  • 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. 

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:

  • 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.
When will I know if I’m a successful applicant?

Shortlisted companies will be contacted via email on August 18, 2021.

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 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.

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

Successful applicants will have until May 31, 2022 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 here.

Are you ready to turn your idea or solution into a wave of opportunity?

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