$8.1-million funding boost from Ottawa’s Pacific Economic Development Agency propels South Island’s Blue Economy into the future of marine technology.
Brandon Wright runs a company out of Oak Bay Marina that designs remote security and monitoring systems for vessels ranging from small sailing and pleasure craft to fisheries and police boats and Canadian warships.
Barnacle Systems Inc. produces the software and hardware to monitor location, cabin status and engine conditions. In more detailed applications, the software can monitor the vital signs of the ship’s operators.
“We’re installed on the RCMP boats, DFO fisheries, search and rescue vessels and big in special forces and the Royal Canadian Navy,” said Wright, who employs 15 people and sells the systems into 40 countries. “We can pull in engine and camera data, environmental data. It gets the whole health of the boat.
“We can also tie in biometric data [through cameras and sensors] so we can understand the stress of the people on the boat that can measure skin temperature and moisture, so someone like special forces can understand during events how stressed they may actually be.”
Wright, a UVic grad, started developing surveillance systems after working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Air Force.
Barnacle Systems is an example of the region’s deep talent pool and massive potential in the so-called Blue Economy, where research and development is spawning innovation by startup companies in transportation, food, environmental protection and other sectors associated with the ocean.
On Tuesday, the South Island Prosperity Partnership, received $3 million in funding from Ottawa’s Pacific Economic Development Agency to support the ocean and marine technology sectors as well as First Nations groups who are doing ocean monitoring and conservation.
Minister Harjit Sajjan announced a total of $8.1 million in funds that will also support $1.9 million for two projects at the University of Victoria and $820,000 to the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries.
Emilie de Rosenroll, chief executive of the South Island Prosperity Partnership, said the funds will support the development of a marine innovation network and training hub through COAST, the blue economy arm of SIPP dedicated to expanding B.C.’s rapidly growing marine technology sectors. The funding will also expand Indigenous entrepreneurship and the exploration of economic opportunities involving SIPP’s Indigenous-led arm, the Indigenous Prosperity Centre.
SIPP, founded in 2016, has about 70 member organizations including municipal and First Nations governments, industry associations and