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The Launch

Holyrood facility opens doors to ocean innovation, education and collaboration

Research

By Moira Baird

The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University officially opened The Launch today during an event held in the atrium of the new Arthur W. May Building.

Located in the Town of Holyrood, The Launch is a state-of-the-art marine living lab that offers a safe, reliable, near-Arctic environment to test new technology, train in harsh conditions and explore the next advancements in ocean research — in, on and under the water.

Marine Institute students also use the facility for experiential, at-sea education as part of their academic programs.

“In the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science, we are excited that our ocean industry innovators, researchers and students will avail of a dynamic facility designed to advance our knowledge and expertise in the ocean economy and build a multidisciplinary workforce,” said Dr. Paul Brett, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute) pro tempore. “The Launch is an important cornerstone in the growth of our ocean technology sector and we are grateful to our industry, government and community partners for their support in making this happen.”

Advancing technology

“The Launch is a focal point for expanding our knowledge, collaborations and community partnerships,” said Dr. Neil Bose, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University, pro tempore. “The Launch strengthens Memorial’s leadership in at-sea education and research, and we are proud to do this in the heart of the vibrant community of Holyrood that has embraced our Marine Institute and all the opportunities that Canada’s ocean sector offers.”

“It’s an incredible feeling to see this vision become a reality.” — Kelley Santos

The completion of the facility takes the institute to the next level in the sustainable oceans economy.

“The official opening of The Launch this week is a celebration of an amazing collaboration of partners and further positions the Marine Institute and Memorial University within a national network of world-class ocean technology innovation centres that collectively are advancing the technology we need to sustainably manage our oceans,” said Kelley Santos, director, The Launch. “It’s an incredible feeling to see this vision become a reality.”

Project support

The Launch has been developed in phases since it first opened in 2010.

An orange boat pulls away from a wharf with people in safety gear standing on it a bright sunny day in Holyrood bay.
Marine Institute students engaged in experiential learning on May 15.
Photo: Submitted

The final phase, which includes the new $22-million Arthur W. May Building, was supported by a combined federal-provincial investment of $8.5 million announced in 2019.

“A sustainable ocean economy is vital to the growth of businesses and communities in Atlantic Canada,” said Ken McDonald, member of Parliament, Avalon, on behalf of Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister, Official Languages, and minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. “Investing in collaborative, world-class ocean research facilities like The Launch encourages innovative solutions to industry challenges — strengthening our blue economy and building a stronger future for all Canadians. Congratulations to the Fisheries and Marine Institute on this final stage.”

“A wonderful tribute to Dr. May and his contributions to Newfoundland and Labrador, The Launch will be an integral pillar in advancing work in the oceans sectors,” said Andrew Parsons, minister, Industry, Energy and Technology. “It will provide our exceptional ocean research community with the capacity to capitalize on the latest research and development and deliver leading-edge research in applied ocean science.”

Collaborative spaces

The multi-purpose building is named for the late Dr. Arthur May, Memorial president and vice-chancellor from 1990–99.

Under his leadership, the Marine Institute became part of the university, strengthened its education, industrial training and applied research programs within Memorial and oversaw the introduction of its first bachelor’s degree. Dr. May was also the founding chair of the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research.

The 36,000-square-foot building has a geothermal heating and cooling system. It also includes technical workspaces, dry laboratories, classrooms and open collaboration spaces for researchers, students and ocean technology partners.

The Launch expertise

The Launch is home to the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, at-sea safety and survival training for the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre, SmartAtlantic ocean observatory system, the Holyrood subsea observatory, SmartBay Holyrood buoys and a fleet of training and research vessels.

The facility features a subsea centre of excellence providing a controlled environment for technology development, mission planning and demonstration of remote operations capabilities.

It also includes a water lot for training and testing and installation of subsea infrastructure to evaluate positioning systems for robotic and autonomous underwater vehicles.


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