Four Early Stage Companies Win the Ocean Startup Project’s First-Ever Ocean Idea Challenge

June 9, 2022  |  

Four early stage ocean technology startups have won the first-ever Ocean Idea Challenge, presented by the Ocean Startup Project – a national organization working to make Canada one of the best places in the world to start and grow an ocean venture. British Columbia-based OnDeck Fisheries AI and a British Columbia/Prince Edward Island-based team, PhyCo, – will each receive the top prize of $10,000. Newfoundland-based Seathru Technologies and Nova Scotia-based Sustainable Sea Products will also receive $2,500 each, after an immersive, four-week customer discovery process that helped prove market interest for their sustainable ocean ideas. 

“The high-calibre ocean ideas and founder talent this competition drew out from across the country really illustrates the momentum in Canada’s ocean startup ecosystem,” said Don Grant, Executive Director at the Ocean Startup Project. “In just over two years, we’ve seen significant growth in early stage ocean startups across this country, and we are so impressed by the cutting-edge technologies being developed and the focus on impacting the health of our oceans.”  

Vancouver, British Columbia-based OnDeck Fisheries AI will receive $10,000 in funding to continue building an automated video review software for scalable and affordable electronic monitoring of commercial fisheries. Their solution will assist observation companies that currently review millions of hours of video footage from fishing vessel decks manually, helping them cut costs and scale. 

“The Idea Challenge was invaluable in helping us validate our business idea and understand its potential through the lens of prospective customers. We are thrilled to keep building on that momentum by getting to the next stage of development as quickly as possible, and by collaborating with Dalhousie University-based DeepSense to hire an intern,” said Alexander Dungate, CEO and Co-Founder at OnDeck Fisheries AI.  

Burnaby, British Columbia-based PhyCo will receive $10,000 to continue developing biodegradable and non-toxic bioplastic from seaweed, grown in partnership with Indigenous Nations in British Columbia. During the competition, the PhyCo team connected with another participant, based in Prince Edward Island – achieving one of the competition’s desired outcomes of creating collaboration opportunities from coast to coast to coast. 

Holyrood, Newfoundland-based Seathru Technologies will receive $2,500 to continue developing a digital twin remote real-time monitoring system that will improve the predictive maintenance of marine vessels’ in-service equipment.

Dartmouth, Nova-Scotia-based Sustainable Sea Products will receive $2,500 to continue developing a sustainable, multi-species hatchery model that will supply seed products for the aquaculture industry.

Over the last two-and-a-half-years, the Ocean Startup Project has funded more than 80 companies that have collectively raised more than $8.5-million and created more than 100 jobs across the country. After two successful Ocean Startup Challenges, the Ocean Idea Challenge was created to fill a gap in the ocean ecosystem by connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with potential co-founders and team members. It also helps identify ocean sustainability problems and validate proposed solutions, while providing entrepreneurs with guidance via mentorship and training resources to eliminate barriers to success in their business journey. 

Learn more about the Ocean Idea Challenge on our website

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The Ocean Startup Project inspires, initiates and invests, making Canada the best place in the world to start and grow an ocean venture. The project team creates and delivers activities to support ideation through commercialization, for innovators and entrepreneurs from industry to academia. The Ocean Startup Project offerings complement existing industry accelerators, incubators and other support organizations across Canada’s world-class innovation ecosystem. Together with our partners – Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), Genesis Centre, Innovacorp, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, PEI BioAlliance, Springboard Atlantic, Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST), and Technopole Maritime du Québec (TMQ) – the Ocean Startup Project is accelerating how homegrown startups get their technologies to market and attract international companies to Canada’s shores.

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