Nova Scotia

Operational funding for ocean tech site sails in from Irving

Funding from Irving Shipbuilding Inc. will cover five years of operations and programming at a new ocean technology research and science centre in Dartmouth.

$4.5M investment part of company's commitment through national shipbuilding strategy

COVE CEO Jim Hanlon expects the site to be open in the spring of 2018 and operating at full capacity. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

With construction well underway on what will become an ocean technology and science research centre, the site now has operational funding.

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, or COVE, is taking shape on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour at the site of a former coast guard base.

A view of Halifax harbour from one of the windows in what will become office space for COVE. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The provincial and federal governments have put up $20 million to transform the aging location into a state-of-the-art research and development centre that will include labs, office space and direct water access.

These two former coast guard buildings on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour will become the home for companies and researchers working in the ocean sector. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

On Thursday, Irving Shipbuilding announced $4.52 million over five years to cover programs and operations at the site. The money is part of the company's agreement to invest $12.5 million toward a long-term, sustainable marine industry in Canada after winning the contract to build Arctic offshore patrol ships.

Irving Shipbuilding CEO Kevin McCoy said he expects COVE will help develop people and products in the ocean sector that can work with Irving as they're building ships.

"It strengthens Halifax as a site for ocean and naval architecture, entrepreneurship, engineering, development of ideas, and that's exactly what we're going to need to tap into as we build Canada's future navy over the next 30 or 40 years," he said.

Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin McCoy. (CBC)

COVE's CEO, Jim Hanlon, said the operational funding would be used for three primary areas: training and skills development, marketing and creating networking opportunities.

Hanlon said construction at the site continues to focus on demolition and removing things, such as walls and old systems to replace and upgrade the site. Two office buildings that date back to the 1960s are being converted to open-concept spaces. Garage space will provide direct wharf and water access.

When the renovations are complete on this garage, it will provide COVE tenants with direct wharf access along Halifax harbour. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

When COVE opens next spring, Hanlon expects it to be full. There is capacity for about 200 people and it's his hope that will cover about 20 groups and companies at a time.

"One of our agendas is to make sure we get a good mix of small, medium and large," he said.

Former coast guard office space is being transformed to open-concept areas for laboratories and meeting space. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The hope is that mix also extends to other sectors including as fishing, defence, marine transport and tourism, and marine energy.

"We're hoping to have a good cross section of that," said Hanlon.


Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at