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Shared vision

Marine Institute, Holyrood build 'portal to the sea'

By Kim Thornhill

During the past decade, the Marine Institute (MI) built an ocean technology hub for Atlantic Canada.

Holyrood Marine Base
Photo: Submitted

Glenn Blackwood, vice-president (Marine Institute), stewarded the development of the Holyrood Marine Base and views it is a significant milestone in the growth of the Marine Institute and the province’s ocean technology sector.

Ideal location

Opened in 2010, the base was designed as a proof-of-concept for an ocean innovation facility, where researchers and companies could pursue ocean technology projects and MI could offer advanced education and training programs for the growing oceans sector.

“We identified Holyrood as an ideal location to become the portal to the sea for Memorial University,” said Mr. Blackwood. “It offered a deep water, sheltered harbour with near-Arctic conditions for research, training and equipment testing.”

And in the past five years, significant government and industry investments have allowed MI to rebuild and extend the existing marginal wharf, add a finger pier, create a breakwater and install evacuation systems for ocean safety and survival education, training and research.

Aerial view of the Holyrood Marine Base.
Photo: Submitted

The base now houses the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, at-sea safety and survival training for the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre and the Marine Services department, which operates the institute’s training and research vessels.

New development

In April 2019 MI received an $8.5-million federal-provincial investment for the next development phase.

The new phase includes a new, multi-purpose building and an adjacent subsea water lot to support research, development and testing of next-generation ocean technology. The institute is currently finalizing building designs to move forward with a construction tender.

“Holyrood is where we want to advance our ocean technology leadership through resourcefulness, ingenuity, innovation, collaboration and a community based approach,” said Mr. Blackwood.

“By providing an exceptional location where ideas, creative people and unique technology are put to work, everyone will benefit with this new ocean innovation hub we are creating.”

Economic driver

The Town of Holyrood is also leveraging the base to make the region a destination for ocean technology, fostering economic growth and creating opportunities to become a leader in the new ocean economy.

In 2013 Holyrood launched its Oceans Holyrood Initiative, focused on becoming a diversified, self‐sustaining region for oceans‐related research, education and business development.

“The base demonstrates what a university and its community can do together when there is a shared vision.” — Glenn Blackwood

The capabilities of the Holyrood Marine Base are a major attraction for the town in its efforts to encourage businesses, particularly those in oceans-related industries, to establish in the area.

“The base demonstrates what a university and its community can do together when there is a shared vision,” said Mr. Blackwood. “We have achieved the success the Marine Institute enjoys in the region because of the tremendous collaboration we have with the Town of Holyrood.”

Industry innovation

Since its opening, the base has initiated the growth of partnerships between the Marine Institute and ocean technology companies from the Atlantic region and around the world.

As a result, these companies are able to carry out at-sea and subsea testing and development of a range of innovations, including seafloor mapping, underwater video inspection, wireless sensors, sonar sensors, wildlife monitoring, and radar image processing systems.

“We offer an ideal environment for innovation. By providing a common location for small, medium and large enterprises to develop and test new technology in a harsh marine environment, the facility will act as a conduit for technology development and commercialization,” said Mr. Blackwood.

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