Good news: the value of the world’s ocean economy is set to reach three trillion dollars by 2030. Even better news: British Columbia borders the world’s largest ocean. The best news? For decades, innovation in the blue economy was led by Nordic countries, particularly Norway — but trailblazers in Victoria are working hard to develop B.C. into a world-class oceantech hub.
The province has been innovating in the oceans for a long time. “The very first electronic monitoring of a fishery, globally, happened here in British Columbia, in Prince Rupert, where they put cameras on board fishing vessels,” said Eric Enno Tamm, founder of This. Fish, a software company that automates supply-chain traceability for seafood processors. But despite this legacy of innovation, the community has continued to work in many silos while investors have perceived oceantech as risky, preventing accelerated development.
Leave it to the pandemic to drive forward changes already brewing under the surface, particularly in Victoria, where the economy, rooted in tourism, swiftly needed alternatives. “We were looking at — what are ways to accelerate our recovery? To move from relief, to recovery, and resilience,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership and the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST). In mulling over this question, de Rosenroll tapped into the local oceantech ecosystem and its strong historical presence in the region.