COVE study finds surge in Canadian high-tech companies enabling the wider Blue Economy

The Canadian Ocean Enterprise 2020 Whitepaper Social

Oct 26, 2021

A first of kind study measuring Canadian Ocean Enterprises has found there has been a significant rise in the formation rate of new companies since the opening of COVE and that the size of the Ocean Enterprise ecosystem in Atlantic Canada is equivalent to the largest US Ocean Enterprise clusters, such as Massachusetts and Southern California.

The Canadian Ocean Enterprise 2020 report was developed by the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), in partnership with the Marine Technology Society (MTS) and the Society for Underwater Technologies (SUT).

“The information included in this study provides a higher-level of detail on the enabling technologies that support the wider blue economy,” said Melanie Nadeau, CEO of COVE. “This is a benchmark study demonstrating the strength of the ocean enterprise cluster in the Atlantic region and the growth potential in Canada. COVE is at the centre of Canada’s ocean tech ecosystem, and we look forward to seeing further growth in future iterations of the study.”

Led by Callahan Murphy, Project Manager, New Initiatives at COVE, the study measured the ‘Ocean Enterprise’, the business component of the ‘New Blue Economy,’ which comprises the platforms, technology, and information services that deliver the ocean observations, measurements, analyses, and forecasts enabling the wider Blue or Ocean Economy.

Key findings of the Canadian Ocean Enterprise 2020 report include:
· There has been a surge in the formation rate of new Ocean Enterprise companies coinciding with the opening of COVE and other significant investments into the ocean economy.

· The Canadian Ocean Enterprise’s revenue per capita is comparable with the United States and exceeds the US in the number of companies per capita. 60% of Ocean Enterprise companies are clustered in Atlantic Canada, making the region equivalent to the largest US Ocean Enterprise clusters such as Massachusetts or Southern California.

· Canadian Ocean Enterprise companies tend to be export focused with a low failure rate. 60% of these companies generate revenues in the range of $1M-$20M, which could imply a series of barriers that need to be better understood to unlock the growth potential of this industry.

· There is strong optimism in the industry with a majority of companies expecting both an increase in employees and an increase in revenues. A noteworthy point is that this growth was expected even as businesses faced the uncertainty of the 1st and 2nd waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

· The majority of Ocean Enterprise companies remain focused solely on hardware and product development, with limited focus on value-added services or analysis. This presents a significant opportunity for companies to uncover value through data products and associated services.

Prior to conducting the benchmark study there was no consistent definition or standardized way to measure the size and scope of the companies that are driving innovation and technology development for ocean sensing and monitoring.

“I congratulate COVE for creating a benchmark for the understanding of Canada’s Ocean Enterprise business cluster – business provision of the New Blue Economy technologies and services essential for meeting the ocean information needs of the Blue Economy,” said Dr. Ralph Rayner, Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, and a lead author of the U.S. Ocean Enterprise reports in his role at NOAA. “Publication of coincident Canadian and U.S. studies provides a comprehensive understanding of North American Ocean Enterprise activity, helping us to understand how this important industry cluster can support the ocean information needs of the future.”

Ocean Enterprise studies have already been conducted in the United States and United Kingdom; however, this is the first time the study has been conducted focusing on the Canadian ocean sector.

“MTS congratulates COVE on producing Canada’s first Ocean Enterprise study. It is exciting to see a vibrant Canadian Ocean Enterprise that is contributing positively to the Canada’s economy,” said Zdenka Willis, President of MTS. “Equally important is that the study methodology follows what is being done within the United Kingdom and the United States enabling a widening global understanding of the important impact of the marine technology sector on the Blue Economy.”

The Canadian Ocean Enterprise 2020 report was launched on Oct. 7, 2021, to coincide with Melanie Nadeau and Dr. Ralph Rayner’s participation on a Sustainable Ocean Economy panel as part of the Dcarbonise Week 2021 Virtual Sustainability Summit, a pre-UN COP26 week-long Virtual Summit.

The Canadian Ocean Enterprise study can be found at

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