Canada’s ocean sciences and technology leadership is put on full display
Imagine: seeing the largest ice tank of its kind designed to simulate harsh Arctic and northern marine conditions. An offshore engineering basin that produces multi-directional waves that rise a metre in height. An underwater exploration lab used for piloting remotely operated vehicles. This July, a group of international clients had the chance to see all of that — and much more — at Innovate Canada 2022.
As one of Destination Canada Business Events’ signature events, Innovate Canada highlights the cutting-edge work taking place across Canada’s leading economic sectors. This year’s event took place in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, taking attendees behind-the-scenes to meet the experts and see the advances driving Canada’s blue economy and global leadership in ocean sciences.
"Bounded by three oceans and home to the largest coastline in the world, Canada has a rich history of innovation and global leadership in ocean sciences," says Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Destination Canada Business Events. “We are so thrilled that we had the opportunity to give clients a true immersion in the country’s oceans sector to see exactly that.”
After arriving from around the globe at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, which overlooks the port of St. John’s, guests were treated to an elegant ocean-themed dinner reception with oyster shucking and sushi stations, along with music by local St. John’s talent.
The next day was packed with illuminating experiences. Attendees heard from two internationally renowned guest speakers. Zita Cobb, Founder and CEO of Shorefast and Innkeeper of the state-of-the-art Fogo Island Inn, provided an insightful glimpse into the stories, culture and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, along with the island’s extensive ties to the ocean; while Kendra MacDonald, the CEO of Canada's Ocean Supercluster, shed light on the country’s vast oceans expertise.
That was followed by a hands-on, private tour of the Marine Institute of Memorial University — the country’s leading centre for education, training, applied research and industrial support for the oceans industries. While there, they experienced advanced marine simulation technology, piloted underwater vehicles in its Underwater Exploration Lab, and discovered the newest technologies being applied to the global fisheries industries in support of sustainable aquatic resources.
“For me, the tours of the research centres were the most valuable moments of Innovate Canada,” recalls Vanessa Scott, Director of Industry Relations, Innovation & StartBlue Accelerator at Scripps Oceanography. “It was incredibly powerful to be in the immersive experience of the simulators, to see the different kinds of tanks, and to speak with the scientists and leadership to learn how they are collaborating with industry and government to transfer the research into the field.”
The learnings didn’t stop there. There was also a Blue Economy Deep Dive, hosted by OceansAdvance, which is Newfoundland and Labrador’s ocean technology cluster organization. The session brought together a broad cross-section of Canada’s ocean community, from businesses to researchers, government and investors, to take an in-depth look at Canada’s history of ocean science innovation and the ways in which it continues to lead the blue economy. The group also went on an exclusive tour at the National Research Council’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, accompanied by the mayor of St. John’s, Danny Breen.
As business events are catalysts to economic development and investment opportunities, it was only fitting that Invest in Canada partnered with Destination Canada on the event. Destination Canada and Invest in Canada hosted a dinner held at MUN Signal Hill Campus with a “Spirit of Newfoundland’s Ocean” theme and a unique custom dining experience.
Eight Team Canada partners were also in attendance at Innovate Canada, hosting one-on-one meetings with attendees. This included destination partners at Halifax, Vancouver, Québec City, Victoria, Fredericton, Saint John, Charlottetown and St. John’s, along with an ocean industry expert from each destination. The rotating informational sessions allowed guests to learn what destinations across the country offer in terms of business events, trade, expansion and investment.
“What I’ve learned most about Canada on this trip is the number and diversity of Maritime clusters and various industry and R&D partners spread across what is a very large continent,” says Warren Edge, CEO of MAST. “The introductions to people and partners who would be interested in my event and that I’m interested to work with has been invaluable.”
“It was such a pleasure to attend Innovate Canada,” adds Miranda Ji, Vice President of Sales at the Victoria Conference Centre and Business Events Victoria. “We not only had the opportunity to highlight what makes our city a great place for ocean-related business events, but also, to show organizations how we can help them leverage this local knowledge capital through introductions to guest speakers, hosted site tours and more.”
Guests also had the opportunity to see the diverse range of experiences available to enjoy in between meetings. There was a spectacular evening at The Rooms Gallery (the province’s largest public cultural space), private beer tasting (including a tasting of iceberg beer) at the Quidi Vidi Brewery in a picturesque fishing village, and a guided boat tour to see Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. There was also a gourmet lunch at Mallard Cottage, featuring local, sustainably sourced ingredients.
“If you’re thinking of coming to Innovate Canada, don’t hesitate — just do it,” says Callum Clench, Executive Director of the International Water Resources Association. “You’re going to have a wonderful time. You’re going to meet interesting people. And you’re going to learn a lot. You might think you know Canada — but it’s such a big country, it’s so diverse, it’s so dynamic that whatever your preconceptions might be, they will probably be challenged in positive ways.”