By Tom Peters

The spotlight on Canada’s ocean science sector has been focused on Nova Scotia with recent announcements of large investments into two major projects, Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) and the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE).

OFI is a new partnership linking ocean experts from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the University of Prince Edward Island with world-leading national and international collaborators in research, government and industry.

The federal government is committing $93.7 million through its Canada First Research Excellence Fund to support OFI and said this ocean-science collaboration positions Canada to become a global leader in finding safe and sustainable solutions for harnessing the ocean resources. Dalhousie said in a release that OFI has also attracted $125 million in additional support from provincial governments and partners, including a $25 million gift from Halifax businessman and philanthropist John Risley, for a total of $220 million in funding.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who made the federal funding announcement, said OFI will focus its efforts specifically on the Northwest Atlantic and the Canadian Artic gateway, a region of the global ocean where changes happen first and fastest.

It was also announced at the funding presentation that four of the top five ocean institutes in the world, as well as three federal departments, the Royal Canadian Navy, 19 industry partners, Nova Scotia Community College and National Film Board, will work together with OFI’s partner universities to uncover new frontiers in ocean science, management and innovation.

Across the harbour in Dartmouth, the federal government announced $7.1 million in funding for the COVE project. The Nova Scotia government will also contribute $12.5 million for capital costs which includes the refurbishment of the facilities and the wharves at the former Canadian Coast Guard base.

A government release stated that at COVE “global leaders in ocean science and research will work together with start-ups, R&D intensive companies, industry, Dalhousie University and other universities and colleges across a variety of technologies and applications to create a cluster of marine innovation and commercialization” at the former base.

Nova Scotia Community College President Don Bureaux said, “NSCC is pleased to serve as the lead post-secondary education institution in developing the COVE project. Working with our project partners, we are looking to build an environment to host high-quality marine infrastructure and a space where ocean enterprises can collaborate to get their ideas off the ground and grow into a thriving operation.”

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said, “COVE will help Nova Scotia make the most of its competitive advantages in the ocean sector. It will be a place where leaders in ocean science and research can work with NSCC, Dalhousie University, industry and others in a collaborative space where start-ups can be mentored and new technologies will be developed and sold around the world.”