Nova Scotia

Ocean tech companies 'showing off the toys' in Nova Scotia

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) hosted its first demo day on Wednesday, showcasing ocean technology from Nova Scotia and international companies.

'We're not neophytes at this, we are really quite good at ocean technology'

Jim Hanlon is CEO of the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, known as COVE. (CBC)

High-speed boat demonstrations and sophisticated sensors used to detect unexploded bombs were some of the things on display in Halifax harbour Wednesday as a new Dartmouth hub for ocean technology held its first demonstration event.

"We're all about showing off the toys here today," said Jim Hanlon, CEO of the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, known as COVE.

"It's a showcase for our local companies showing off their wares, their equipment, as well as visiting companies from 12 different countries around the world."

The incubator hub has attracted 54 tenants and an 80 per cent occupancy rate since opening in the former Canadian Coast Guard base in October 2018.

It's a sign of the growth in Atlantic Canada's ocean tech sector, Hanlon said.

Harold Phillips of MarineNav demonstrates a remotely operated vehicle Wednesday at the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship demonstration. (Paul Withers/CBC)

"We're not neophytes at this, we are really quite good at ocean technology. We're with our peers from around the world and they all recognize the strength of the community here in terms of its ability to produce world-class ocean technology," he said.

One of those companies is P.EI.-based MarineNav, which sells its remotely operated vehicles (ROV) to the Canadian Coast Guard and to the salmon aquaculture industry in Norway.

A remotely operated vehicle demonstrated by MarineNav Limited, a P.E.I. company participating at the COVE event Wednesday. (CBC)

"It's very cold water, so fatigue would set in very quickly for a diver," said Harold Phillips of MarineNav. "The ROV, basically, it can stay in the water indefinitely and and broadcast back high-definition images and operate at depths far beyond what a diver is capable of doing."

Boston Engineering, a technology conglomerate based in Waltham, Mass., also showed off a remotely operated vehicle that resembled a swimming fish.

'Small, blue planet'

Roger Race, a manager at Boston Engineering, sees parallels between the development of ocean technology in New England and Atlantic Canada.

"A lot of collaboration between these maritime communities here in Halifax and the maritime communities down in Boston, and it's a growth market," he said.

A demonstration of the technology used to operate MarineNav's remotely operated vehicle. (CBC)

"We're seeing new companies come up in the Boston area. We're seeing new companies here at COVE in Halifax and we always are talking to each other. It's a small, blue planet and we're all working on the same objective."

Hanlon predicted the repurposed coast guard base will be fully occupied by its first anniversary in October.

"At which point, we start talking about COVE 2.0," he said.