Canadian government invests in Victoria’s Open Ocean Robotics

Julie Angus, CEO of Open Ocean Robotics, with one of their unmanned vessels.
Julie Angus, CEO of Open Ocean Robotics, with one of their unmanned vessels. Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet

Greater Victoria’s blue economy just got a big boost from the federal government.

The Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry, and of Natural Resources, announced an investment on December 2, 2021 of $2.8 million in Victoria-based Open Ocean Robotics through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

“This is the second SDTC investment in Open Ocean Robotics (OOR) and part of a continuing collaboration that is helping the company advance its cleantech solution for gathering ocean data and protecting the marine environment,” according to their media release.

CEO Julie Angus has long been known as a pioneer in sustainable, innovative ocean-applied technology. Last year she sat down with Douglas guest editor Samarth Mod to talk about their solar powered autonomous boat, and how it’s propelled their business to incredible growth and success.

“The tide is shifting and people are starting to pay more attention to the oceans,” she said at the time. “I hope that trend continues, and I think our company will be one of the key players in making that transition to a digital ocean.”

Her prediction is already coming true.

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry says “cleantech innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization are key to the vital shift to a healthier environment and a net-zero carbon economy. Today’s announcement will boost our leadership in climate and waste reduction technologies and help foster a truly Canadian success story.”

The government’s prior investment in Open Ocean Robotics provided seed funding for one of their first solar-powered uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) prototypes, designed to monitor and protect marine environments for months at a time, without producing greenhouse gas emissions. The vessels capture key data to help conserve marine biodiversity, prevent overfishing and other threats to ocean health, and better understand the impacts of climate change.

Open Ocean Robotics will use the latest SDTC investment to advance its SeaSense initiative, protecting the marine environment with the latest generation of zero-emission autonomous vessels, artificial intelligence and advanced sensors.

“We are delighted to have the support and recognition of SDTC for our technology to advance ocean monitoring,” says Angus. “This will accelerate the development of our solar-powered autonomous boats and real-time data analytics systems to help transform how we understand and protect our oceans.”

Quick facts

  • Clean technology companies currently employ more than 211,000 Canadians in rewarding, well-paying jobs.
  • SDTC Canada’s largest funder of clean technology entrepreneurs, an independent federal foundation that supports companies with the potential to become world leaders in environmental technologies and help solve some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges, such as climate change and polluted air, water and soil.
  • Since 2001, SDTC has invested more than $1.38 billion in 460 companies that have generated $2.8 billion in annual revenues, created 16,930 jobs, brought 177 new technologies to market and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22.4 megatonnes of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to taking almost 7 million cars off the road every year.
  • 11 Canadian companies, 9 of which have been funded by SDTC, placed on the 2021 Global Cleantech 100 list.
  • In December 2020, the Government of Canada announced A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada’s strengthened climate plan, which has increased support for SDTC with an additional $750 million over five years, representing the single largest Government of Canada investment in SDTC since its inception in 2001.