The Ocean Startup Challenge is a competition seeking innovative solutions to ocean industry problems. The Ocean Startup Project launched the Challenge to support innovators who are developing technologies with large market potential for the ocean economy. 

During its initial phase, the Ocean Startup Challenge will award up to 10 prizes of $25,000 and business support to the winning startups and scaleups. Applicants who are not selected as winners will still benefit from training during invite-only bootcamps as well as guidance and support from partnering organizations in Atlantic Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

We encourage individual or team applications from innovators of any gender, entrepreneurial Indigenous Peoples, and companies that have been in business for under five years and have fewer than 15 employees.

Innovators, entrepreneurs and companies from across Canada and around the world may apply for the Challenge, but winners must register as a business in Atlantic Canada before funds will be released.

Applicants from an existing company must be the majority owners of the company.

Full application details are available from You may apply online from that online page or by emailing your completed application to Apply before the Challenge deadline: 11:59 pm ADT, August 14, 2020.

Yes! We are happy to review applications and provide feedback. Please send a draft of your application to by Monday, August 10, 2020.

Applications will be reviewed by an evaluation committee that includes Ocean Startup Project representatives and industry experts who are knowledgeable about the specific sectors and technologies highlighted in the challenge statements.

In selecting the competition winners, the quality of the idea/technology, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. 

Key criteria for evaluation include:

  • Pain & Solution: Description and quantification of the market problem/pain, uniqueness and significance of product, stage of development, proprietary position
  • People: Team, background and entrepreneurial track record of key individuals, ability to execute, commitment to venture
  • Competition: High barrier to competitive entry
  • Market: Large, growing international market
  • Execution: Credible plan to reach key milestones

Shortlisted companies will be contacted via email on September 4, 2020. 

Applicants will retain ownership of any intellectual property associated with their application. All applications will be treated confidentially. Only those individuals directly involved in managing or judging the competition will view your submitted documents.

Along with $25,000 in funds, finalists will receive further training and business guidance from industry experts and the Challenge’s in-kind supporters.

Successful applicants are expected to develop their prototypes by Friday, February 26, 2021.

The Ocean Startup Challenge has two phases. Applications for phase 1 are now open.
Submissions will be reviewed by a judging panel and a shortlist will be selected. We anticipate 20 entrants will be shortlisted in this phase. Individuals who have made the shortlist will be notified by Friday, September 4, 2020.
Shortlisted applicants will then present to a judging panel. Pitch presentation will occur between September 22-24, 2020

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. 

Submissions for the Ocean Startup Project’s next competition will be due in March 2021. If selected to receive the $25,000 prize, you will automatically be eligible for second phase of the competition, where up to $200,000 could be awarded to the most promising company; however, you will need to submit an updated application.

Still have questions? We would love to chat with you. Please reach out to us here.