Nova Scotia

Dartmouth ocean tech company taps into $20M innovation project

Tubulent Research, who makes underwater listening devices in Dartmouth, N.S., is a supplier in Canada's first Ocean Supercluster, the joint government-industry program focused on developing ocean innovation.

Maker of underwater listening devices is a supplier in Canada's first Ocean Supercluster project

Chris Loadman, president of Turbulent Research in Dartmouth, N.S., sees big opportunities for small firms to get involved in the Ocean Supercluster program. (CBC)

A small Dartmouth, N.S., ocean acoustics company will be taking part in the first project approved by Canada's Ocean Supercluster, the joint government-industry program focused on developing ocean innovation.

With annual sales nearing $2 million, Turbulent Research is dwarfed by the big players in the project, but Chris Loadman, the president of Turbulent Research, said there's opportunity for firms like his own.

"I think that even the smallest of companies can get involved, even startups by partnering or becoming a vendor to some of these larger companies that get some of these bigger programs," Loadman said.

The six-person operation is based on the Dartmouth waterfront in the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE).

The company makes passive listening devices used by the offshore oil and gas industry, governments and companies needing environmental monitoring.

Like other ocean technology companies in the Halifax area, many of the components that go into Turbulent Research's products are supplied locally.

The company is acting as a supplier to Kraken Robotics, the St. John's-based company behind the $20-million Ocean Vision project.

First Ocean Supercluster project

Last week, dignitaries assembled at Kraken's Mount Pearl office outside St. John's where it was announced the company would develop high-resolution sea floor imaging and mapping as the inaugural Ocean Supercluster project.

Kraken is leading a consortium of companies to develop extremely detailed ocean floor imaging for oil and fishing companies.

Both industries have an interest in better understanding the bottom.

For example, oil companies want a closer look at their offshore installations and seafood companies are interested in habitat.

The housing, connector and hydrophone for Turbulent Research's passive acoustic device were produced in Dartmouth. (CBC)

Ottawa is putting in $5.9 million, with matching money from Halifax-based Clearwater, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, the Nunavut Fisheries Association and Ocean Choice International.

Turbulent Research will help make sense of the acoustic signals used in imaging the bottom.

"What we do is help them develop the best set of electronics, provide advice, engineering expertise on the electronics that goes into that, as well as the signal processing," said Loadman.

In February 2018, the Ocean Supercluster was one of five winning entrants in a national competition for innovation funding.

Kraken's Nova Scotia connection

Two other companies based at COVE are providing services to Kraken: vessel supplier Leeway Marine and cable company MacArtney Canada.

Kraken is also a neighbour at COVE. It opened a production facility at the former Canadian Coast Guard base.

"Kraken is a Newfoundland company. We're a small Nova Scotia company and we're getting a benefit out of this larger project," said Loadman.

"I think this is a really good opportunity for this ocean technology sector to collaborate to bring their knowledge together and from different bits and pieces at places and apply that to some new and unique technologies."


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