Nova Scotia

Is ocean technology the future of Atlantic Canada's economy?

As government handouts go, it's hardly big money, but the more than $1 million awarded to 27 startup companies Wednesday is another sign Nova Scotia and Ottawa continue to bet on ocean technology as a way forward for the region's economy.

Nova Scotia and Ottawa announce seed funding to 27 startups

Twenty-seven companies are each getting up to $50,000 as part of a government competition for ocean and clean technology development. (CBC)
As government handouts go, it's hardly big money, but the more than $1 million awarded to 27 startup companies Wednesday is another sign Nova Scotia and Ottawa continue to bet on ocean technology as a way forward for the region's economy.

The seed money, up to $50,000 per business, went to winners of a government competition for ocean and clean technology development.

The program is being administered by Innovacorp, a provincial crown corporation.

Many of the ocean business projects involve commercial fishing and seafood processing in one way or another. 

$100M and counting

The two governments have announced well over $100 million in ocean-related funding since September 2016:

  • $94 million for the Ocean Frontier Institute led by Dalhousie University.
  • $19.7 million for an ocean technology hub being built on the Dartmouth waterfront.
  • $6.5 million for the newly created Research Nova Scotia Trust.

Some of Atlantic Canada's biggest companies have formed the "Ocean Supercluster" to submit the region's only bid in an upcoming federal government competition for $950 million in innovation funding.

Too smooth for a barnacle

The region's fish barons, billionaires and energy bigwigs partnering in the "Ocean Supercluster" are far removed from the world of Mo AlGermozi, CEO of Halifax-based Graphite Innovation and Technologies, one of the 27 startups funded Wednesday.

AlGermozi and business partner Marciel Gaier developed a carbon product called graphene at a Dalhousie laboratory. The company still operates from the campus.

Among its functions, the graphene product can be used as a non-toxic coating that resists marine growths like algae and barnacles on boats and moorings.

Mo AlGermozi is the CEO of Halifax-based Graphite Innovation and Technologes. (CBC)

Marine growths can slow down vessels, forcing them to burn more fuel and emit more pollution.

"Our commercial competitors use materials to leach to the environment, so they can kill or force these barnacles not to sit on it. Our innovation is different. We create a smooth surface which delays them from adhering," said AlGermozi.

"It's green and good for the environment."

Back from San Diego sales pitch

On Wednesday, an exhausted AlGermozi was on hand for the media event after stepping off an overnight flight from San Diego where he was pitching his product against other startups at the BlueTech PitchFest.

Graphite Innovation and Technologies was the lone Canadian representative.

"I have a big imagination. I see myself in a facility with people working with us creating, innovating not just coatings and corrosion, but many other things," AlGermozi said.

"I would like to create jobs in this community. And [I] see Halifax ... as one of the most innovative cities in the marine environment."

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

now