Embark on a Customer Discovery Journey with the Ocean Idea Challenge

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur driven to enhance ocean sustainability? The Ocean Idea Challenge invites you to begin your customer discovery journey, aimed at turning your innovative ideas into viable solutions for sustainable ocean industries. This competition not only challenges you to validate your market but also supports your journey with up to $7,000 in funding for teams that successfully demonstrate potential impact and innovation.

Here are just a few reasons to participate: 

  • Funding: Secure up to $7,000 to support your early stages of customer discovery and help bring your ideas to fruition.
  • Resources and Support: Access local technology innovation hubs, receive expert guidance, and utilize extensive resources to refine your project.
  • Network Building: Engage with potential teammates, partners, and industry leaders who are equally committed to the health of our oceans.

Ready to start your journey? Program information packages, are available in French and English, to learn all about the Ocean Idea Challenge and how it can be the starting point for your impactful customer discovery journey. 

Want to get involved but unsure of what ocean challenge you want to help solve? We’ve compiled a list of Challenge Statements and Innovation Spotlights from industry to give passionate entrepreneurial people an idea of what opportunities exist in the ocean sector. Scroll down to learn more about our industry-identified challenge statements and Innovation Spotlights (presented by Merinov and econext) for some inspiration! 

Registration for the Ocean Idea Challenge was open from Tuesday, April 30 until Sunday, June 9, 2024 at 11:59pm PT. The application is now closed.

Registrations will be evaluated as they are submitted; registrant intro meetings with Ocean Ecosystem Navigators will be scheduled upon registration. Registrants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to allow ample time to meet with Navigators.

Key Dates:

  • April 30: Registration opens
    • Registrant meetings with Ocean Ecosystem Navigators will occur on an ongoing basis through the application period
  • May 15, May 28: Information Sessions
  • May 31: Exploring Ocean Problems Workshop
  • June 9: Registration Deadline
  • June 10: Customer Discovery Workshop
  • June 10 to 13: Participant Selection
  • June 17 to August 30: Customer Discovery Sprint 
  • September 5: Selection of advancing startups 

Looking to participate, but need a little inspiration? Check out our Challenge Statements and Innovation Spotlights

How to get involved with the Ocean Idea Challenge

Register your Team by Meeting with an Ecosystem Navigator

After completing the online registration form, you will be invited to meet with one of our Ocean Ecosystem Navigators to discuss your idea and the program requirements. Registration opens April 30 and will close on June 9, 2024 at 11:59pm PDT. 

Attend preparatory workshops focused on Design Thinking and Customer Discovery

We’ll offer sessions to help you explore ocean challenges in need of solutions, connect with potential teammates and partners, and learn best practices for validating ideas. We are hosting Design Thinking and Customer Discovery Workshops to best prepare teams for success in the Ocean Idea Challenge. Stay tuned to this webpage and our social media channels to save your seat!

Select teams will undergo customer discovery sprint with up to $7,000 in funds

Up to 25 teams will be selected to receive up to $7,000 each to support their validation efforts. Teams will be expected to commit to participating in programming, including a customer discovery sprint, and weekly meetings with their assigned Ocean Ecosystem Navigator. Funding will be unlocked based on a team’s ability to complete previously agreed upon milestones set at the beginning of the program.

High Performing teams will fast-track to the Ocean Startup Challenge

After presenting their ideas and progress to an evaluation committee comprised of industry and ecosystem leaders, high performing teams will receive express entry to the next phase of the Ocean Challenge. The Ocean Startup Challenge will provide participants the opportunity to receive up to $15,000 in additional support along with access to an EIR and other resources. 

Program eligibility

Whether you’re a student with a vision, a professional seeking meaningful change, a researcher with groundbreaking ideas, a tech enthusiast, or simply someone with a burning desire to tackle ocean sustainability, the Ocean Idea Challenge is your platform to turn aspirations into action.

  • Students: If you’re a student passionate about ocean sustainability and innovation, this challenge is an ideal platform for you
  • Mid-Career Professionals: Professionals looking to pivot the career or contribute their skills to sustainability efforts are encouraged to join
  • Researchers: Academic or independent researchers with a focus on ocean sustainability, eager to translate their findings into practical solutions, are welcome
  • Developers and Technical Talents: If you have technical skills and are interested in applying them to sustainability, this challenge needs you
  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Individuals interested in learning how to validate and grow a business idea, especially in ocean sustainability, are perfect candidates.
  • You must be at least 18 years old and located in Canada

This competition is primarily designed for solutions that are at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or lower, but this is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about your TRL and eligibility, please follow the link below to get in touch with our team.


To participate, you must be either:

An individual or a team without a registered business -OR- a company that has been registered for a year or less and that has not yet launched a product in the market

Review our program information package for full details on eligibility.


Have questions about whether or not you’re eligible? Need a hand better understanding your TRL level? Something else? Follow the link below to get in touch with a member of the OSP team! 

Get in touch!

We are pleased to have partnered with the following organizations to present Innovation Spotlights to inspire prospective founders

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