Experts in Excellence
Destination Canada Business Events
' specific knowledge of this vast land makes this team a first stop for executives and organizers in the natural resources and ocean technology seeking to tailor the right package for their event, whatever the size. Learn more at businesseventscanada.ca
From coast to coast to coast, Canada's leadership in ocean industries like aquaculture, offshore resources exploration, marine renewables, bioresources and fisheries is unparalleled. The country's vast and diverse coastline has given rise to a growing ocean science innovation ecosystem supported by government, industry and academia. With all this knowledge capital to tap into, it’s no wonder that so many business events planners are drawn to Canada’s knowledge hubs, including Victoria, Québec City, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John's, as potential host cities for their next major meeting or conference. The country's extensive resources, top-notch meeting venues and research facilities have catapulted it to the top of the list for organizations seeking the perfect destination for their group events.
Here’s how Canadian destinations, with their ocean industry expertise and specialized talent pools, are attracting global organizations like Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the World Aquaculture Society, as well as influential events like IMPAC5, the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress.
Victoria: Innovating ocean observation
Located steps away from the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island, Victoria, the capital of the Canadian province of British Columbia, is making waves in the oceans sector. The province is home to over 1,000 companies specializing in ocean and marine industries, with 70% of these on Vancouver Island itself. This means that events in this sector have easy access to thought leaders to supplement their event agenda. For example, the Institute of Ocean Sciences — one of Canada's largest marine research centers — employs more than 250 scientists and technicians who can potentially be used to enhance speaker programs for events.
Ocean-oriented activities — including ocean recreation, ocean transport and seafood — make up about 8 percent of the provincial economy.
The University of Victoria is renowned for its Earth and Ocean Sciences program and for Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a global leader in ocean science research and technology. ONC's cabled observatories (platforms on the seabed that monitor Canada's east and west coasts and the Arctic, providing the data to the surface via cables), supply vital data about marine environments. ONC's Innovation Centre also created the Underwater Listening Station, which can monitor sounds produced by ships, whales or fish.
Major business players operating in Victoria include Cascadia Seaweed, one of the largest providers of ocean cultivated seaweed; MarineLabs, which provides data-as-a-service marine condition information from fleets of compact, cloud-connected buoys; Open Ocean Robotics, which produces energy-harvesting autonomous boats equipped with cameras and sensors that instantly relay oceanic observations; and Rockland Scientific, an oceans tech company dedicated to the measurement of turbulence in marine environments. Their systems are used world-wide in a variety of disciplines, ranging from climate research to coastal management and fisheries research.
The city has also partnered with the Association of BC Marine Industries and many private businesses to launch the Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST). This initiative brings together numerous organizations, experts and resources to explore opportunities and innovations around the "blue economy."
"Faculty and students from the University of Victoria are quite active in the study of optical oceanography; many supported the conference by serving on the planning committee, as presenters, and as volunteers."
—Jennifer Ramarui, executive director, Oceanography Society
Notable oceans-related conferences, that have recently been held in Victoria, include Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Summer Meeting 2018; Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering MARI-TECH 2018; North Pacific Marine Science Organization PICES Annual Meeting 2019; and Aquaculture Canada 2019.
Jennifer Ramarui, executive director of the Rockville, Md.-based Oceanography Society, which held its Ocean Optics Conference in Victoria, cited local sponsors and exhibitors including Ocean Networks Canada, AML Oceanographic and ASL Environmental Services as attractions for holding events in the region. "The proximity of the Victoria Conference Centre to the University of Victoria was also an important factor in selecting Victoria as the conference location. Faculty and students from that institution are quite active in the study of optical oceanography; many supported the conference by serving on the planning committee, as presenters, and as volunteers."
Halifax: Canada’s original ocean city
Halifax’s close-knit and collaborative community has made its fortunes from the sea for generations. Even as the technology fueling this sector evolves, the city’s commitment to stay at the cutting-edge of industry innovation remains steadfast.
Halifax is the capital city of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, a province in which over 300 ocean-orientated companies operate. The city itself employs nearly 35,000 people in the sector, and is at the heart of driving oceans innovation in Canada. These include developments in underwater acoustics, sensors and instrumentation, fisheries and aquaculture, deep-water battery tech, communications and navigation, marine geomatics, marine biotechnology, robotics and autonomous vehicles, informatics and artificial intelligence, as well as naval architecture. The result? Nova Scotia is a globally recognized powerhouse with a CAD$4.5 billion ocean economy.
Halifax’s sector specific workforce includes experts in technology, as well as an array of authorities in research and academia –Halifax is home to one of the highest concentrations of oceans-related PhDs in the world, who can make a meaningful addition to any event. This includes experts from Halifax’s Dalhousie University, which receives more than a quarter of all oceans research grants from Canada's National Sciences and Engineering Council and is home to the Aquatron Laboratory, Canada's largest university aquatic research facility.
"Halifax's thriving ocean technology community makes it a natural fit to bring our flagship conference here."
—Christopher Whitt, general chair for OCEANS 2024 Halifax
The country's largest ocean research center, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, houses more than 600 researchers, engineers, technicians, as well as natural resource and environmental managers. Other notable ocean-related establishments include the National Research Council of Canada's Institute of Marine Biosciences, the Ocean Tracking Network, and the Halifax Marine Research Institute. Halifax's Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) is specifically designed to support applied innovation in the oceans sector. The 13-acre waterfront facility in Canada’s deepest harbor provides “the best space in the world to turn ideas into commercial solutions.”
Halifax is home to countless ocean innovators, such as Sustainable Blue, an organization on a mission to create the world’s most responsible salmon fishery; Welaptega Marine, a world leader in underwater inspection technologies; MetOcean Telematics, which helps customers with integrating hardware into autonomous underwater vehicles, buoys and more. Finally, there's Irving Shipbuilding, a global leader in building/fabricating/converting/servicing vessels and platforms — currently undertaking a CAD$60 billion shipbuilding contract for the Government of Canada.
"Halifax's thriving ocean technology community makes it a natural fit to bring our flagship conference here," says Christopher Whitt, general chair for OCEANS 2024 Halifax, one of the sector's most prominent global conferences. "Discover Halifax connected us to convention center information and hotels. Facilities like COVE bring together organizations that will support an event like ours."
St. John’s: Blazing the trail in ocean tech
Centers of Excellence
Canada is an ideal destination for business events in numerous innovative sectors. Click here
to learn about Canada's leadership in sectors including technology, agribusiness, life sciences and more, as well as the range of resources available to groups in these industries.
Perched on the most easterly point in North America with its own time zone, Newfoundland and Labrador is a hub for ocean sciences, off-shore energy production, mining and harsh environment testing. A world leader in the growing global ocean economy, the region represents more than half of Canada's ocean industry. In fact, the province produces 80 percent of the country's offshore petroleum.
The harborfront capital city of St. John’s is at the epicenter of Canada’s ocean innovation ecosystem. Over 450 companies operating in the oceans sector have their home in the city and the ocean industries in St. John’s have contributed over CAD $10 billion annually to the economies of the province and the country more broadly. The province employs over 37,000 in the ocean economy, with over 16,000 employed in the seafood industry. Seafood from Newfoundland and Labrador is known around the world, as the province exports to over 40 countries. Organizations that meet in St.John’s have unparalleled access to industry leading minds and organizations, and can engage them to elevate their events.
St. John’s is also home to world-class oceans researchers, facilities and institutions. The city is home to the world’s largest flume tank and one of the longest ice tanks. Memorial University of Newfoundland, based in St. John's dedicates half its research budget to oceans.
"We have a thriving cross-sectoral oceans industry community — ocean tech, capture fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas — with firms competing with and surpassing global competitors."
—Cathy Hogan, executive director for OceansAdvance Inc.
The city is ideal for ocean-related events, according to Cathy Hogan, executive director for OceansAdvance Inc.
"We have a thriving cross-sectoral oceans industry community — ocean tech, capture fisheries, aquaculture, oil and gas — with firms competing with and surpassing global competitors," says Hogan.
The region's diverse ocean economy includes the fisheries and aquaculture, petroleum, ocean technology and sciences, marine maintenance and shipbuilding, seaport services and shipping. Innovations include Virtual Marine's at-sea safety training simulators and Kraken Robotics' underwater robotics and sensors. Other notable companies operating out of St. John’s include eDNAtec, specialists in environmental genomics who are dedicated to improving the environmental stewardship of the planet’s marine ecosystems.
St. John's has hosted many successful conferences, including the Maritime & Arctic Security & Safety Conference, which takes place in the city annually, and will welcome the World Aquaculture Society North America in August 2022 and Destination Canada Business Events' signature event, Innovate Canada 2022.
Hogan adds that the city is especially proud of the partnerships and collaboration it provides to conference planners, along with its wide variety of research facilities and leading ocean tech companies that showcase the strength of its talent pipeline.
"With our history and heritage — 500-plus years of making a living from the sea — first-class hotels, shops, superb food and friendly people, who will buy you a drink in a pub because you're are a CFA (come from away), St. John's is not a hard sell," says Hogan.
Québec City: Revolutionizing oceans research
Québec City's strategic location on the banks of the St. Lawrence River provides the perfect vantage point from which to welcome leading-edge ocean-related companies — including Canada's largest shipbuilder — and world-class research centers. The Port of Québec, one of the top five in Canada, sees 28 million tons of merchandise shipped through its commercial zone annually. The city is also known for its maritime tourism sector, with more than 1,300 ships ferrying more than 235,000 visitors into the area annually.
The city's thriving ocean industry hub currently has many innovative projects and initiatives. The Canadian research icebreaker, CCGS Amundsen, with its home port in Québec City, is revitalizing Canadian Arctic science by enabling local and international researchers unprecedented access to the Arctic Ocean. The city also houses XpertSea, an AI-driven data management platform that provides real-time insights to make aquaculture more efficient and sustainable, and Merinov, the country's largest integrated centre for applied research in fishing, aquaculture, and the processing and development of aquatic products. Desgagnés, a leader in merchant marine operations, with subsidiaries at many major Canadian ports, is also headquartered in the city
“We've hosted many ArcticNet Annual meetings and Arctic Change meetings over the years and the staff, service, size, facilities and location of the Québec City Convention Centre is amazing.”
—Martin Fortier, executive director of Sentinel North
Planners can tap Québec City's wealth of expertise to augment their speaker programs from institutions such as Université Laval's Institut nordique du Québec, known as Canada's leader in Arctic research.
In recent years, the city has hosted the Arctic Change International Conference and ArcticNet’s annual meeting. At these delegates can experience a truly Nordic vibe aligned with the international conference's Arctic theme, says Martin Fortier, executive director of Sentinel North.
"The modern and centrally located Québec City Convention Centre is the perfect size for the 1,500-person conference," says Fortier. "The Québec City Convention Centre's close proximity to the historic Unesco World Heritage Site of Old Québec, with its French European cachet, gastronomy, and top hotels, and to the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, makes it a truly unique, world-class venue in North America. We've hosted many ArcticNet Annual meetings and Arctic Change meetings over the years and the staff, service, size, facilities and location of the Québec City Convention Centre is amazing."
The conference partners with Université Laval, the host institution of the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence, a large national Arctic research networks that involves over 30 universities across Canada, says Fortier.
Charlottetown: Ocean research and seafood specialization
Prince Edward Island (PEI) was known by many names before its current one, and the Indigenous Mi’kmaq people aptly called it Abegweit — "the land cradled on the waves." This maritime province, with its storybook white-sand beaches and lighthouses, and its capital city of Charlottetown are renowned for seafood — it's the largest grower and processor of live mussels in North America — and a vibrant ocean industry.
Some of PEI's advanced institutions and companies include The Centre for Aquaculture Technologies (CAT), a leader in aquaculture research and solutions, and AquaBounty, a state-of-the-art R&D hatchery. Another prime example of PEI’s innovation is Aspin Kemp & Associates, the company that developed the world’s first power system for tugboats. PEI also boasts a CAD$7 million partnership with ocean startup BioAlliance, a private sector-led non-profit dedicated to building the province's bioscience industry. The Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, located at the University of PEI, supports world-class research and learning, and the Aquatic Virology Collaborating Centre consists of a multi-disciplinary group of researchers studying eukaryotic viruses of aquatic origin.
"Our delegates love coming to PEI; it's often our highest-attended event with over 300 delegates representing the aquaculture industry, government, academia, and support service businesses."
—AAC President Kim Gill
Some of Charlottetown's ocean sector business include Red Rock Power, Frontier Power Systems, Atlantic Advanced Power Technologies, MarineNav and NorCan Marine. Notable conferences in PEI include 2018's International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health, 2019's Atlantic International Chapter of American Fisheries Society and the upcoming 2024 Aquaculture Association of Canada's annual conference.
"Our delegates love coming to PEI; it's often our highest-attended event with over 300 delegates representing the aquaculture industry, government, academia and support service businesses," says AAC's president Kim Gill. "Attendees enjoy everything about Charlottetown: business and social networking at wonderful restaurants, seeing a show at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, Canadian history, and of course, the charming island people. Everything can be accessed within a one-hour drive, including visits and tours with aquaculture and fishing companies, and seeing first-hand our industry hard at work producing world-class mussels, oysters, and salmon. While our delegates come for the conference, they often stay for all PEI has to offer."
In Canada, oceans-industry leaders will find support from federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as academia and innovation investors and one of the world's easiest visa regimes. Further simplifying the business process is the pool of destination and sector experts provided by Destination Canada Business Events. The team's specific knowledge of this vast land and oceans makes Destination Canada Business Events team an organizer's first stop for tailoring the right package for their event, whatever the size.
As has been described above, Canada is home to innovative individuals and organizations that can help deliver impactful events from coast to coast to coast. Meeting planners can reach out to industry experts, with the help of Destination Canada Business Events, to supplement their speaker schedule, organize site tours of world-class facilities or engage in knowledge exchanges with established industry leaders and disruptive start-ups alike. Tapping into the country’s innovation ecosystem is sure to elevate any event and create a lasting impact on the organization and attendees.
"When you combine Canada's natural and cultural attributes with the unique opportunities to explore ground-breaking ideas in ocean sciences and technologies, it's easy to understand why organizations the world over are choosing Canadian locations to host events in the blue economy space," says Virginie De Visscher, senior director of business development, economic sectors, for Destination Canada Business Events.
To learn about assets and opportunities and arrange future research trips and site inspections, go to businesseventscanada.ca.
For assistance in bringing your oceans event to Canada, connect directly with our expert in the sector, Pamela Wilton, Business Development Manager, Economic Sectors - Natural Resources.
Content sponsored by Destination Canada Business Events.