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Jan. 9, 2003, Gazette

Anchors away for new
ocean tech cluster

Oceans Advance will assist in building linkages among ocean technology businesses and community organizations. Newfoundland is home to a number of companies involved in ocean technology, including those involved in the manipulation of icebergs in the North Atlantic.

Oceans Advance is getting ready to take on the international market and put Newfoundland and Labrador on the map as the place to be for ocean technology. Started in 2001, this public-private partnership involving the National Research Council (NRC), provincial government, local businesses, Memorial University, and other stakeholders, has been created to build upon and strengthen linkages with like-minded ocean technology businesses and community organizations.

Leading the way is development executive, Dennis Hogan. As the founding CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association, Mr. Hogan has considerable experience in building strong partnerships and community linkages. “Our job is to help weave a network of all the academic, government and industry stakeholders, in whatever aspect of ocean technology they operate – whether from a pure R&D, commercial or regulatory perspective – to create an environment that’s conducive to enhancing ocean technology development,” said Mr. Hogan.

Already, Newfoundland is home to numerous world-class ocean tech companies, like Rutter Technologies, Lotek Wireless, Guigné International, and Oceanic Consulting, to name just a few. Oceans Advance is looking to create an ocean tech cluster that can build upon this foundation of expertise by expanding upon core R&D programs at the NRC, constructing an incubation facility for start-up companies at the Institute for Marine Dynamics (IMD), and integrating community efforts.

“We want to help create a positive environment for existing ocean tech companies, but also foster an environment that is a catalyst for the creation of new companies,” added Mr. Hogan. “There are so many applications for ocean technology and St. John’s is perfectly positioned for exploiting our capabilities and increasing international business opportunities.”

The ocean technology cluster will play the role of facilitating industry collaboration. Working under the motto that two is better than one, the cluster will advocate combining capabilities to allow companies to create a stronger presence on the international market. Oceans Advance will assist with networking, international marketing, identification of business opportunities, and branding of the St. John’s ocean technology cluster world-wide.

And what better place to develop an ocean technology cluster than in Newfoundland and Labrador. As Mr. Hogan points out, Newfoundland and Labrador’s historical and cultural attachment to the sea, strategic geographic location in the North Atlantic, and the fact that over 90 per cent of the population lives near the sea, makes an ocean technology cluster a natural development.

To date, Oceans Advance has been involved in a number of local and international ocean tech initiatives. Meetings have been held with the City of St. John’s and the St. John’s Board of Trade regarding an ocean technology industrial park for the city. Oceans Advance also participated in a business mission to Ireland this past fall and discussions are currently ongoing for a technology transfer mission to Ireland with six to 10 local companies.

Starting in January 2003, Oceans Advance will be co-hosting a speaker series with the City of St. John’s for and about local technologies and businesses working in the ocean tech industry. This will be a great opportunity to showcase research happening locally and demonstrate the importance of this research to the economic development of the province. They also plan to launch their Web site early in the New Year.

“We look forward to working closely with Memorial University on R&D related to the ocean tech industry. Memorial already has a very strong reputation for ocean engineering and aquaculture research,” says Mr. Hogan. “Working together we can build upon our core competencies and really push Newfoundland and Labrador into the international market.”