Ocean technologies

Canada's Ocean Technology (OT) sector is a cross cutting advanced technology industry focused on products and services to understand and work in or use the ocean. The OT sector is to the marine industries as the Cleantech sector is to the environmental industries. Technologies may include complex navigation systems aboard a ship; the hybrid electrical power systems on a tugboat; or high-tech acoustics and sonar systems. 

3 metre Metocean buoy from AXYS Technologies, Sidney, British Columbia

3 Metre metocean buoy from AXYS Technologies, Sidney, British Columbia, measures and transmits environmental data, such as wind, waves, temperature, and pressure

The ocean technology sector is:

  • Export oriented. The majority of Canadian companies in the sector earn a high percentage of their revenue from international sales;
  • Knowledge intensive. The sector is characterized by highly innovative companies with an R&D agenda.
  • Collaborative. There is a strong network of Canadian university and government research centres active in the sector.
  • Characterized by dual or multiple use technologies which has led to many companies diversifying into several niche vertical markets, and:
  • Highly clustered in regions. Dominated by SMEs, typically each cluster also boasts  a few multi-national defence systems integrators and at least one regionally-based R&D organization /academic institution that supports technology development and commercialization efforts. 

Market opportunities for Canada's ocean technology and other high-value marine manufacturing and service firms are driven by a variety of sources. Some of the broader ocean industries that provide markets for Ocean Technology companies include offshore oil & gas, defence & security, marine transportation/shipbuilding, ocean science & observation, ocean renewable energy, fisheries & aquaculture, coastal and ocean management and seabed mining. The Government of Canada is also a major customer for these products through its navy, coast guard and other procurements.


Canada is a world leader in a number of areas like engineering products and services that can stand up to extreme harsh ocean environments; marine remote sensing technologies; and, ocean observing systems. Companies in the sector have a broad range of technological competencies including in such areas as radar & acoustics sensors, information systems, seabed mapping & marine geomatics, autonomous/intelligent systems, robotics, underwater vehicles, nanotechnologies/microsystems, simulation & training and communications.

The Unmanned marine vehicles, Manned sub-surface vehicles, Marine robotics, Marine sciences and Ocean technology areas totaled $246.4M in sales; accounting for 14.1% of total marine sales in 2014.

full description is located below the image
Long description of Figure 3
Canadian Marine Industry Sales Categories—2014Sales
Unmanned Marine Vehicles, Manned Sub-Surface Vehicles and Marine Robotics and Components1.8% $30.8 M
Ship-borne Software,Sensors, Electronics, Navigation Systems, and Equipment Control Systems and Components4.7% $82.2 M
Ship Design, Engineeringand Related Professional Services5.6% $99. M
Ship Propulsion Systems,Electrical Power Systems and Related Components6.5% $114. M
Shipbuilding, Ship Hulls and Structural Components7.1% $124.5 M
Marine Sciences and Ocean Technology (Other Acoustic, Radar, Sonar, Communication, Surveying, Mapping, Imaging and Geomatics Equipment, Components and Services)12.3% $215.6 M
Offshore Oil and Gas Structures and Components13.5% $236.8 M
Ship Repair and Maintenance Services20.5% $360.2 M
Other Commercial and Civil Marine products and services not otherwise captured in the above categories28.0% $490.8 M
Total Commercial and Civil57%$1,754. M
Simulation Systems for Naval Vessels0.8% $10.9 M
Naval Ship Fabrication, Structures and Components21.5% $289.4 M
Naval Ship-Borne Systems (i.e., Mission Systems) and Components35.9% $483.1 M
Naval Ship Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul41.8% $562. M
Total Defence43%$1,345.5 M

Government support

The Ocean Technology sector is supported through a number of federal and provincial programs related to research and development as well as business development.

  • National Research Council Canada—Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering
    NRC OCRE assists industry and other government departments to develop solutions to engineering challenges within ocean, coastal and river environments with a particular focus on harsh and extreme conditions.
  • Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador
    RDC is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador's research and development performance. RDC works with research and development stakeholders including business, academia and government agencies and departments to make strategic investments in highly qualified people, R&D infrastructure and innovative research.
  • Nova Scotia Business Inc
    Nova Scotia Business Inc. is the private-sector led business development agency of Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Innovacorp
    Innovacorp is a Nova Scotia crown corporation managing an early-stage venture capital fund.
  • BC Innovation Council
    BCIC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of industry in BC. We accelerate technology commercialization by supporting start-ups and developing entrepreneurs.



Technology resources


Canada's Oceans Action Plan (OAP)
The OAP enables government-wide action to develop Canada's ocean resources for the benefit of coastal communities, while protecting fragile marine ecosystems.
A joint United States/Canada venture led by the University of Washington and the University of Victoria. For the next 30 years, NEPTUNE will stream data and images back from the deep ocean in real-time, providing an innovative approach to understanding earthquakes, tsunamis, undersea volcanoes, marine mammals, fish stocks, hydrocarbons and climate change.
A revolutionary approach to oceanography delivering sustained observation of the changing characteristics of the ocean. A cabled observatory located in the shallow waters of coastal British Columbia, Venus will provide real-time, full-time, interactive observation of near shore ocean processes.
Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE)
COVE is a collaborative facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. The facility will be home to local and global ocean technology businesses, post-secondary institutions, researchers, and marine-based and service businesses that support the ocean sector.

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