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$300 million for ocean technology jobs

(From left) Federal cabinet minister Seamus O’Regan, Supercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald and Premier Dwight Ball prepare to take questions from reporters in St. John’s on Friday following an announcement on the Ocean Supercluster.
(From left) Federal cabinet minister Seamus O’Regan, Supercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald and Premier Dwight Ball prepare to take questions from reporters in St. John’s on Friday following an announcement on the Ocean Supercluster. - David Maher

Ocean Supercluster aims to create 3,000 jobs over the next decade – though that’s only an estimate

More than $300 million for new ocean technology businesses will be made available through the Ocean Supercluster, headed up by CEO Kendra MacDonald.

The federal government has put up $153 million to generate new business opportunities in oceans technology. The public money will be matched by the private sector.

The announcement was made on Friday by Ocean Supercluster CEO MacDonald, flanked by federal minister Seamus O’Regan, Premier Dwight Ball and MP Nick Whalen.

MacDonald says right now there’s no specific focus on an area of ocean technology where the supercluster will funnel the money. She says the idea is to make the money available and see what happens.

“We are working through the numbers and partners in terms of areas of focus. This is designed to be cross-sectoral,” said MacDonald.

“We’re trying to look at those problems that do cross sectors. If you think about sensors, as an example, what does that mean for fishing? For shipping? For offshore oil and gas.”

O’Regan says it’s a good thing to not have a set vision for how the money will be spent.

“It’s a strength that we don’t know what’s going to come from this,” said O’Regan.

“It’s an exciting thing because companies will make these investments. Our dollars will follow private sector dollars.”

The supercluster will soon accept pitches from businesses on projects that could use the funding. Organizations will work out their own budget, work together with other businesses on the idea, then submit their ideas to the supercluster to find out if their project will get the greenlight. The hope is that it’ll take about a year to go from idea to approval.

The announcement estimated 3,000 new jobs as a result of the initiative, with hopes of adding $14 billion to the Canadian economy over the next decade – though there’s no guarantees in place to ensure that amount of economic activity.

The 3,000-job estimate comes from looking at the impact of other clusters around the world and estimates based on the size of the ocean economy and its contributions to the global gross domestic product. There are no specific guidelines for how many projects will be approved in this province or even across Atlantic Canada.

“I don’t have targets by province. This is meant to be pan-Atlantic and Canada-wide,” said MacDonald.

An annual report will be filed publicly to give the public insight into just how many jobs are created as a result of the national supercluster project.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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