Looking Ahead With Optimism By John Risley

To say the Atlantic Canadian economy needs a real shot in the arm now is an obvious understatement. The fishery is being hurt by low prices, the offshore oil industry by the same (and the resulting delays being announced for many capital projects) and the service industry generally all but shut down. I understand the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is even saying tourists won’t be welcome this year. Who could have imagined this just 3 months ago?

But we are a proud and resourceful lot and I am convinced that spirit will rise up and drive economic growth in ways not imagined just those same 3 months ago. Nowhere should this be more obvious than within the ocean sector and nowhere are there better opportunities for our companies. The fishing industry, never known for its technological prowess needs to look to technology to reduce costs, improve operating efficiencies and otherwise better understand the ecosystem on which it is so dependent. Newfoundland’s offshore oil industry is under huge cost pressures and new discovery opportunities are in deeper water and more distant from shore making them amongst the expensive plays to engage and exploit. It will be a pre-condition for jobs and all important tax revenue to flow from these exciting prospects that more work be done remotely, that ways be found to operate many functions autonomously (and safely of course) and that new methods and practices be brought to bear to lower the risk and the cost of operating in such a hostile environment.

Your Ocean Supercluster has an important role to play in encouraging, prompting, stimulating, and supporting innovation across the ocean economy. We want bright minds with new ideas and lots of enthusiasm. We are investing in building up the innovation ecosystem at the level of all the incubators across the region, where through projects like the Ocean Startup Project, networks like the Creative Destruction Lab, and world-class facilities like the Cove facility in Dartmouth, anywhere an entrepreneur has the ambition to launch a business touching the ocean economy, they can.

And why I am so optimistic as to the prospects for what is possible is because I see and live the scale of the opportunity. I believe we have just reached a critical mass here in Atlantic Canada wherein, or whereupon, emerging businesses in everything from environmental monitoring, to undersea robotics, to remote sensing, to information technologies, to the general application of new sciences to real business imperatives can all now find local support, a customer base, and the intellectual and financial capital necessary to turn these ideas into jobs and profit. And then, to sell those products and services to the rest of the world.

I can not imagine a better time to start a new enterprise. Never in my almost 50 years in business have I seen better availability of capital for early stage companies, never a market so focused on ways to improve, to cut costs, to be innovative, to be differentiated. And never a community so willing to help spud and grow these businesses and celebrate their early successes.

I am tremendously proud of the team at the Ocean Supercluster. We are here to help. Come talk to us.

Chair of OSC Board of Directors
CFFI Ventures Inc.
John Risley

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