The City of Victoria, in partnership with the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) and the marine sector association and companies, has issued a request for proposals in order to move forward on a new ocean innovation project.

The city is hoping to develop an Ocean Futures Innovation Hub – a project that would help broaden Victoria’s role as an ocean region. According to a press release from SIPP on Friday, the innovation hub would be located downtown and house a variety of companies working in the ocean and marine sector.

By requesting proposals, it signals the city is ready to move forward with the project that is said to be a “key action” in Victoria’s future economic plan. The new hub would help grow Victoria into an industry leader in Canada and would create opportunities for research and innovation within the marine sector.

“This initiative will lead to the growth of a strong regional ocean and marine ecosystem that supports business needs throughout the innovation continuum,” said Alex Rueben, Executive Director of the Association of BC Marine Industries (ABCMI). “It will foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and global competitiveness.”

SIPP suggests that back in 2019, an Ocean and Marine Roundtable was hosted by Victoria and there was seemingly overwhelming support to grow the ocean economy in the region.

“Along with providing shared resources, a space for collaboration and educational events, the Ocean Futures Innovation Hub is an accelerator and incubator, offering critical business resources and mentorship needed for early-stage companies to grow,” said Julie Angus, CEO of Open Ocean Robotics.

SIPP is highlighting the hub’s role as an opportunity to create local, “pandemic-resistant” opportunities within the regional economy – developing more jobs in areas other than the hospitality sector.

“The nuclei for high-value job creation, industry innovation and global competitiveness exist here because Victoria harbour and the marine highway are strategic assets that are unique to our region,” said Sage Berryman, Co-CEO Ralmax Group of Companies, “The Oceans Futures Innovation Hub has the potential to be the cornerstone of the region’s pathway to post COVID-19 economic recovery.”

According to SIPP, the Ocean Futures Innovation Hub Seize will align with both federal and provincial goals, while delivering on elements of the CleanBC Plan.

The City of Victoria is requesting that all proposals be submitted by August 21.

Graham Cox