Investing in oceantech: The benefits of dropping an anchor on Canada’s east coast

Rebecca Skinner, Investor Services Advisor, Atlantic, Invest in Canada

workers on boat

Image provided by photographer David Howells and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

According to the OECD, the global oceans economy is forecast to double in value to $3 trillion by 2030, representing significant opportunity for global investors. With the world’s longest coastline, the largest Arctic ocean region, and some of the world’s most productive waters, Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of this growing global industry, and investors from Europe and around the world are taking notice. Take a deep dive into the ocean economy on Canada’s East Coast.

Atlantic Canada: Diversity in the ocean economy

More than half of the nation’s ocean economy is based on Canada’s East Coast, employing an estimated 175,000 people. Comprised of the provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada has centuries of experience working within this diverse industry, including:

  • Marine transportation: The closest North American ports to Europe and destinations in South Asia, via the Suez Canal, has led to the region becoming a major transhipment point between these markets.
  • Ocean energy: Vast offshore resources include an estimated 71.6 billion barrels of oil and an estimated 344.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The majority of these resources are in just 10% of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore. Major players like Exxon, Suncor and Equinor are investing billions in several offshore production projects.
  • Defence and security: The region is home to a significant portion of Canadian military assets, which has resulted in a cluster of highly advanced companies that specialize in shipbuilding,  acoustics, surveillance, and systems integration.
  • Fisheries and aquaculture: Pristine Atlantic waters are some of the world's most productive fishing grounds and supplied about $5.3 billion in quality seafood products to international markets in 2019. There is currently an opportunity for investment in Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquaculture industry, with capacity for a new site to produce 15,000-20,000 annual metric tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon in the Bays West area of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Atlantic Canada is also home to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, created in 2018 by the Federal government to promote innovation in ocean industries.  The Supercluster represents a $300 million dollar investment, split between government and industry partners, and will assist in transforming the industry into a technology driven, digitally powered knowledge economy.

The equipment and technologies employed across the ocean economy are referred to as oceantech – and Canada’s most eastern province, Newfoundland and Labrador, has a strong track record in developing them.

Map of Canada with Atlantic Canada provinces highlighted

Newfoundland & Labrador: A leader in oceantech

 Newfoundland and Labrador, North America’s most easterly point, is the world’s real time cold ocean laboratory with 17,000 kilometers of coastline, strategically positioned along the path to the Arctic and international shipping lanes to Europe and the Eastern United States.


With the largest ocean economy in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is at the forefront of the ocean technology sector. In addition to outstanding education and research facilities, our province has a strong and vibrant cluster of companies to support this industry in Canada and around the world. We are proud of the collective efforts of all partners in the ocean technology sector, which is diverse, innovative and includes advanced technology development.

The Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Innovative oceantech companies

World-leading experts in ocean enterprise and marine operations, Newfoundland and Labrador has a  number of innovative companies serving global markets, including Kraken Robotics, Rutter, SubC Imaging, PanGeo Subsea, Virtual Marine, and Genoa Design International.

Genoa Design International has been providing production design and 3D modeling services to shipbuilding and offshore industries since 1995, becoming one of the most sought-after production design firms in the North American shipbuilding market.

We’ve always been proud to call Newfoundland & Labrador the homeport for our growing business. This place has a rich history of shipbuilding and is known, more importantly, for innovation as a way of life. At Genoa, the talent we’ve onboarded from our local educational institutions, combined with the people we’ve upskilled through our own Academy and attracted from around the world, is worth celebrating. We have a world class team right here. It’s the tenacity and resiliency of our people that makes Newfoundland & Labrador, and the ocean sector, such an inspiring and attractive place to operate. 

— Gina Pecore, Chief Executive Officer, Genoa Design International 

Oceantech companies in Newfoundland and Labrador develop products and services that are in demand in markets all around the globe. The industry excels in navigation and communications, remotely operated vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, subsea technologies, marine robotics, and simulation.

Oceantech research and education

The province’s capital city, St. John’s, is recognized as a city of ocean excellence with a wide range of private and public sector organizations. Some of the most advanced research and education facilities are located in St. John’s, including the National Research Council of Canada’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, the world’s longest ice tank, a 200-metre tow tank offshore engineering basin, the world’s largest flume tank, and 2 of only 5 full-motion ship’s bridge simulators in the world.

With its largest campus also in St. John’s, Memorial University is at the epicentre of oceantech innovation. More than 40% of the university’s research is ocean-related and the Marine Institute at Memorial University is known worldwide for its development and provision of specialized training in areas of fisheries, marine navigation, coastal planning, and safety.

As a one-of-a-kind educational institution in Canada, the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University is focused on the delivery of an unparalleled breadth of research, training, and academic expertise across the oceans sectors. From an economic development standpoint, we understand the importance of the oceans to Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural and economic heritage and future. The Institute is well-positioned to serve as the province’s strongest asset in guiding Newfoundland and Labrador through global leadership in applied oceans education and research.

— Glenn Blackwood, Vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute) 

women in front of computer monitors
Photo provided by Genoa Design International


The creation of the Holyrood Marine Base has initiated the growth of partnerships between the Marine Institute and a variety of ocean related companies. This interaction has allowed these firms to carry out testing and development of a true range of innovations, including seafloor mapping, underwater video inspection, and sensors. At the same time, it has provided the Marine Institute with a direct connection to industry, one that will give insight for meeting the needs of businesses in the future. A new 36,000 square foot mobilization and launch base is under construction, which will provide researchers, ocean technology companies, and students with physical space and new technology to test related products.

Beyond research, Memorial University is educating the oceantech workforce of the future. With the only co-op program in Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering in the world, as well as programs in ocean science, ocean physics, and marine biology, oceantech businesses and global investors are able to meet their workforce needs with a steady stream of graduates.

Experts in harsh environments

Given the province’s strategic proximity to the Arctic, Memorial University is investing $16 million in a new, Harsh Environment Research Facility (HERF). The state-of-the-art facility will enable leading-edge research in ice and ship structure interactions; ice mechanisms; winterization of cold ocean vessels; ice phenomena; and wind loading and icing of structures. HERF is designed to have a leading impact on the Arctic and cold ocean engineering research and technology development research. Currently, no research institution in Canada has a multi-purpose facility that enables the proposed capabilities of HERF in a single facility.

frozen ocean shorline
Photo provided by Genoa Design International


Keep exploring oceantech: resources to dive even deeper

Looking for the key to success in the ocean economy? It’s in Canada. Global investors take advantage of stability, a talented workforce, welcoming immigration policies, established supply chains, and an abundance of ocean expertise.

Through its regional office, Invest in Canada works with partners in Newfoundland and Labrador to connect global investors with business opportunities. Learn more about Newfoundland & Labrador, and the City of St. John’s.

We’d love to work with you on your ocean-related investment project. Invest in Canada is Canada’s investment promotion agency and is here to support your company as you consider these opportunities. Contact us now.