Saanich ocean drone builder gets $1.7M boost from B.C
A Saanich-based startup is one of seven organizations to benefit from $7-million in grants from the B.C. government.
The grants are part of the province's Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund, which is designed to help develop innovative technologies, such as "blue" technology, that will benefit the ocean, create jobs and help reduce greenhouse gases.
Open Ocean Robotics received $1.7 million in funding to further develop its solar-powered, uncrewed, ocean surface vehicles that are designed to cut the cost of ocean research and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is a huge, impactful announcement," said Julie Angus, CEO and co-founder of Open Ocean Robotics.
"Having the support of the B.C. ICE Fund, allowing us to develop our current technology and roll it out commercially, it’s incredibly impactful for the growth of our company, but also for the ecosystem in advancing sustainable ocean monitoring," she said.
The small solar-powered vessels are equipped with sensors, cameras and communication devices that can capture information from anywhere on the ocean and relay it to researchers instantly.
They can withstand harsh ocean conditions and travel non-stop for months without producing any greenhouse gas emissions or noise pollution, according to the company.
Open Ocean Robotics' solar-powered vehicles are shown. (CTV News)The boats can save 1,200 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year compared to using conventional research and monitoring vessels.
There is worldwide interest in the robotic boats, which can be used for marine mammal monitoring, environmental monitoring, and security surveillance, Open Ocean says.
"Our oceans are extremely difficult to monitor when you think about the challenges of putting a crewed ship out on the water," said Angus.
"So these autonomous boats can go out there at a fraction of the cost without putting any people at risk and they are completely zero emission," she said. "There is a big demand for getting ocean data that is more affordable, more sustainable, and that’s exactly what we do."
The company currently has 30 employees but expects to grow that number as development and production increases.
MORE ISLAND FUNDING
Another organization to benefit from Tuesday's announcement was the South Island Prosperity Partnership's Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST), which received $2 million.
COAST describes itself as a catalyst and cluster facilitator for the "blue" economy up and down British Columbia's coastline.
The centre specializes in connecting marine-based industries such as shipping, ship building and defence, with emerging technologies.
"We are grateful to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation for their investment," said COAST CEO Emilie de Rosenroll.
B.C.-based "blue" technology and innovation is creating jobs for British Columbians and building a sustainable ocean economy, the province says.
"B.C. innovators are building connections, developing technology and fuelling research that will help transition B.C. to a low-carbon economy, including in the ocean-based sector," said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
"Support for these leading-edge, pre-commercial projects ensures that British Columbians can continue to benefit from the growth and diversification of our first-class, clean-technology sector."
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