2019 has been a year of change for Open Ocean Robotics. What started as a geeky project in our garage in 2018 transformed into a bustling startup based out of the Vancouver Island Tech Park with seven staff. We secured nearly $2,000,000 in funding, won five awards and are in the midst of two pilot projects for the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
We’re thrilled with the high-profile coverage our company has received through awards and press coverage. We won a $100,000 investment in the Spring Impact Investor Challenge and were awarded the National Angel Capital Organization Most Promising Startup of 2019 Award. We won a $22,000 award in the New Ventures BC competition and the IEEE N3XT Star Award. Cleantech Group named us to their “50 to Watch” list of companies fighting our biggest battles with high-impact solutions. In the media, we were featured in Forbes, Meteorological Technology International, Daily Hive, Business Examiner, Douglas Magazine, and others. We’ve had the opportunity to showcase our technology at numerous conferences and events including Collision, Inventures, MEOPAR Annual Science Conference, Cleantech Forum Asia, NREL Industry Growth Forum, and more. We were accepted into Creative Destruction Labs, a seed-stage program for massively scalable, science-based companies, and are part of their Ocean Stream in Halifax, NS.
We’ve raised nearly $2,000,000 in grants, competitions and our pre-seed financing round. This year, we were awarded a $100,000 grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada in their pilot seed funding program delivered in partnership with the incubator Alacrity. In the New Ventures BC competition, we were one of the finalists and took home the BC Resources Prize. We’ve received grants from NSERC, IRAP, Innovate BC, Empowering Futures, Information and Communications Technology Council, and Natural Resources Canada. We are also currently closing our $600,000 pre-seed round, which is oversubscribed.
Our move into the Vancouver Island Tech Park last January gave us the room to conduct R&D develop our prototypes and hire staff. It’s the perfect spot with lots of other exciting tech companies and shared facilities like a gym and Makerspace. Plus, it’s close to several lakes for our water trials and has great biking routes for commuting to work.
We hired our first two staff in January as well, Evan Maier and Jamieson Fregeau, two University of Victoria Electrical Engineering co-op students who were thrown in the deep end and quickly learned how to create many of the computer and electrical systems needed to make our boats run. We’ve continued to hire amazing co-op students from the University of Victoria and now have Ian Hamilton, a fourth-year Electrical Engineering student, and Matthew Cairns, a fourth year Computer Science student working with us. We also have hired a mechanical engineer, Brad Perron, and an electrical engineer, Grant Jones. Additionally, Scott McLean, who helped build Satlantic, an oceanographic sensor company that was acquired, and was the Director of Innovation at Ocean Networks Canada for a decade is guiding our ocean sensor integrations.
We completed our solar-electric prototype Data Xplorer and used the results of extensive testing to design our production vessel, which we are currently building. It’s a remarkably versatile vessel that can travel both in coastal waters and offshore for months at a time. We have a modular battery bank and swappable motor, so that we can do short-term missions with high powered sensors and speeds of up to 10kts or missions of up to a year with lower energy requirements. The boat is entirely solar powered, and can be controlled by satellite, cellular or radio. It can be launched from a boat ramp and driven autonomously or remotely controlled, collecting oceanographic and environmental data 24 hours a day.
All in all, it’s been an exciting year, and we feel confident that 2020 will be just as rewarding as we move ahead with our pilot projects, manufacturing, and continued software development.