Canada invests in big data analysis to grow ocean economy

Illustration (Photo: Government of Canada)

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) has made a significant funding contribution for the establishment of advanced computer analytics platform DeepSense in an effort to grow ocean economy in the Atlantic Canada region.

The creation of DeepSense, resulting from ocean research partnership between industry, academia and government, will enable Atlantic Canadian companies to commercialize research and further develop data analytics products and services that are sought after worldwide, according to ACOA.

ACOA made a non-repayable contribution of almost C$6 million ($4.8 million) through its Business Development Program to help Dalhousie University establish DeepSense and fund its operations for five years.

Through DeepSense, ocean technology companies working with ocean and data scientists will be able to develop value-added software products for their customers, providing their clients with the capability to use and interpret data in new ways, as well as with enhanced data visualization abilities, the government of Canada said.

Hosted by the university’s faculty of Computer Science, DeepSense will support intensive Big Data analytics projects with industry – a move expected to result in the rise of business opportunities in the ocean sector.

The project will also create a pool of highly qualified people with the technical skills necessary for the industry to grow, ACOA said.

Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, said: “Innovation is critical to economic success. Establishing an industry-leading analytics platform will help foster business innovation and the scaling up of small firms in Atlantic Canada by promoting technology transfer, and the commercialization of research and development in both emerging sectors and traditional resource-based industries of the ocean economy.”

More than 300 companies are doing oceans-sector business in Nova Scotia with more than 60 creating new, high-tech products and services, according to figures from Nova Scotia Business.

Nova Scotia companies are among the pioneers of underwater acoustics, sensing and imaging.

The massive amount of data being accumulated by these sensors is not being used to its fullest capacity as most companies do not have enough computer power, nor the software applications needed to connect the data and scientific insights to commercial products, the government of Canada said.

IBM Canada provided high performance computing infrastructure and personnel support as an in-kind contribution valued close to C$10 million ($8 million), while Dalhousie University and the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) are also investing a total of C$2.1 million ($1.7 million) for the project.

The total project costs are estimated to be close to C$18 million ($14.4 million).

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