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There are some big numbers bandied about when it comes to the projected value of the global ocean economy by 2030: three trillion US dollars to be exact, outpacing the growth of the broader economy by about 20%.

Thirty-one billion, meanwhile, is the current contribution of Canadian ocean and marine sectors to the national economy each year, with an expected five-to-one ROI to be made in the sustainable ocean economy for the next three decades.

That’s a key word when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities the ocean economy: sustainable. Add another: tech. There’s an ever-increasing interest in leveraging technology to advance climate change solutions while providing a new source of prosperity for business.

Vancouver Island’s tendency to grow innovation and innovators, particularly when it comes to technological advancements in climate change mitigation and solutions, stands it in good stead to capitalize on the potential, especially when combined with the province’s leadership in clean tech. In fact, 75% of B.C.’s ocean tech businesses are located here, according to the Association of BC Marine Industries (ABCMI).

Greater Victoria’s Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) recognizes the potential and hopes to harness it. The non-profit, a branch of South Island Prosperity Partnership, is an innovation hub and cluster model to nurture entrepreneurs and companies across the Pacific Canada region.

The organization recently launched the COAST Venture Acceleration Program (CVAP), which is funded by Innovate BC and will be delivered in partnership with VIATEC. The program will help ocean-impact technology companies accelerate the process of defining, launching or scaling a proven business model for sustained profitability.

Executive In Residence Shannon Bard will lead participating ventures through the program. A marine biologist, oceanographer and ecological toxicologist and the Lead Climate Venture Studio and Entrepreneur in Residence at The University of British Columbia, she is known for her advocacy work and lauded for her extensive experience in corporate innovation, cleantech and sustainability.

“I’ve always working to see how we can take research and get it in the hands of decision makers to change behavior and create new solutions and methodologies and technologies that protect the ocean and [promote] sustainable economies for our coastal communities,” says Bard.

In a Q&A with Douglas, Bard discusses her work supporting startups amidst a shift from ‘dirty’ to ‘clean’ industry and a transition from an exploitative approach to a regenerative one.

Read the Douglas magazine Q&A

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