Deep Dive: H2O Conference & Demo Day Recap

Written by: Abby Jonah, Brigitta Zhao, and Tyson Cato

H2O Conference Recap

What defines the ocean sector? The ocean sector can be a scary term, but in hindsight it’s not scary at all! The ocean sector simply includes anyone learning about, working with, or interested in the ocean! When we, as DeepSense interns, were invited to attend the H2O conference this summer it seemed intimidating. None of us had attended a professional conference, nevertheless, one surrounded by the ocean sector. As the days progressed, we found that once you break down your initial nerves you will find a passion you didn’t know you had. We each connected with different aspects of this conference! Whether through a panel, demo, or conversation, we learned that ocean technology and the ocean industry is fascinating!  

The DeepSense Team was ready to learn all about Canada's home for ocean tech!

H2O Panels

The conference had several different panels that appealed to people from every background. If you were someone with a business background the panel “Building an Ocean Technology Company” might pique your interest!  

That panel described what makes a successful ocean technology company and some of the challenges that come with it. The panelists came from a wide variety of backgrounds and aimed to solve very unique problems. For instance, Brandon Jaunky, co-founder of GC Lipid Tech, recognized the need for a sustainable fishmeal devoid of fish oil. He did this by creating genetically engineered microalgae. This algae helped produce fish feed pellets full of nutrients and proteins. Innovation like this seems to be prevalent throughout the world of ocean technology and was fascinating to learn about!  

Another notable panel was “Vessel Decarbonization”, which was centered around the ocean industry’s heightened focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The panel consisted of various companies that were all working towards a net-zero goal. One company, EV Marine, is focused on producing electric fast ferries. These would be a more sustainable and efficient mode of transportation. They are even proposing them for Halifax! Another company, Biome-Renewables, is currently focusing on developing anti-cavitation propellers for both tidal and offshore renewable energy systems, which would enhance efficiency and longevity! 

Tanya Lush from COVE hosting a panel called "Increasing Industry Capacity Through Skill Development"

H2O Booths

The H2O conference displayed 55 ocean technology companies, who were all eager to showcase their contributions to Canada’s blue economy. From underwater acoustics to offshore wind farms, the exhibitor’s hall was filled with companies looking to bring Canada to the forefront of the ocean sector. Some companies were targeted toward building remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), while others were focused on creating sustainable fishing methods!  

It was fascinating to learn how ocean companies share similar technology, yet they remain drastically different. For instance, M2Ocean Solutions INC is using underwater acoustics to send sound waves to the ocean floor in order to decipher the ocean depths and map the unknown ocean floor. On the other end, ASL Environmental Sciences are using underwater acoustics to determine the movement of marine life such as zooplankton. From this data, they can discover migration patterns. This is just one example of how the same technology can be used for various results. 

As three student interns with no prior knowledge of ocean technology, it was incredible to experience this conference. The exhibitors did an amazing job of explaining their technology in a way that was easily understandable. We each learned so much from chatting with these industry professionals. It was a unique experience like no other!

Demo Day

We had the privilege of attending Demo Day! Demo Day, held at the Centre for Ocean Venture & Entrepreneurship (COVE), is a chance for companies in the ocean sector to display their most cutting-edge products! The weather was unfortunately not on our side as a few of the planned activities were unable to be displayed due to rain; however, the live demos we were able to attend were entertaining and impressive.

First, we saw RESQUINTs demonstration of their sustainable lobster traps. Their traps contain a functional and affordable backup buoy system that contains an electronic timer release mechanism to help locate and retrieve lost fishing gear.

We were especially excited to see the Open Ocean Robotics demonstration! This company was founded by Julie Angus, who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2005/2006! She showed off Open Ocean Robotics new solar powered USV (uncrewed surface vessel) that can transmit data in real time.

Ashored Innovation’s demonstration was also very interesting to experience. Their product, MOBI, coils and stores fisher’s lines on the ocean floor until they return to collect their gear. The lines are released when the boat returns and triggers the release unit.

In addition to the amazing demos, we got to tour the Navy vessel HMCS Moncton. This was our favorite part of the day! The full tour took about 45 minutes to complete and was captivating from start to finish. From the control room to the bridge, the tour provided insight on the daily life of a naval officer at sea and shed light on things like how they filter drinking water and some of the defense features of the vessel. 

Final Thoughts

One of the key takeaways from the H2O conference was about Ambition 2035! This concept was highlighted by the Global Innovation Clusters and Canada’s Ocean Supercluster panel! Canada’s Ocean Supercluster wants to keep our economy growing, and id aiming to grow it five times by 2035, to reach $220 billion, contributing to more than 5% of Canada’s GDP. This overall vision is known as Ambition 2035.  This is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of Canada’s ocean sector since there is a clear commitment to innovation and Ambition 2035 will increase economic benefit and help address the world’s most pressing ocean challenges!

H2O was a great experience! The conference provides a wonderful opportunity for like-minded individuals to collaborate and drive progress toward a healthier and smarter ocean future. We were able to meet several professionals and learn about all the different aspects of the ocean industry. Whether you are a researcher, an entrepreneur, or a student, the conference offers a unique platform for anyone to enjoy!

It is also worth noting that student registration was free, so if you are a student this is a great opportunity to learn more about the world of ocean technology! Don’t forget to register for the 2024 H2O conference, we know we will definitely be back!

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