Leading-edge technology to the rescue
A relatively new addition to the Newfoundland and Labrador ocean technology cluster, Canatec has a deep history of cold-ocean and arctic research and development, having been in business for twenty-two years. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Canatec’s primary business has been in the safe design of ocean structures and vessels that will be constructed and deployed in harsh environments. Their St. John’s, NL office was founded with another focus in mind: repurposing their existing iceberg monitoring technology for use in search and rescue (SAR) operations.
Canatec also has an office in The Hague and has extensive experience working off the east coast of Russia, in the Caspian Sea, as well as off Greenland and Newfoundland and Labrador. Their work is largely for the offshore petroleum industry, utilizing robotics and specialized software.
“We have developed instrumentation with the potential for much broader spinoffs for global markets,” says Dr. Scott Tiffin, Partner and Project Manager of Canatec’s St. John’s Operation. “This is the project I’m leading here, making decision support systems for maritime search and rescue operations.”
The St. John’s Canatec team is a highly qualified research and development arm of the core company, some thirteen people strong, comprising three PhDs and ten Masters. The team is engaged in a number of iceberg monitoring- and management-focused projects, but it is the search and rescue application of their technology that is top of their agenda.
The technology gives operators real-time data, improving the safety and survivability of both offshore workers and search and rescue personnel. Such data can also widen the windows of operations, allowing helicopters to fly in areas and conditions that were not previously considered viable due to safety concerns.
In creating their highly qualified St. John’s team, Canatec has pulled from nearby Memorial University, one among the many advantages of being stationed in Newfoundland and Labrador, says Tiffin.
“This is a place where not only is there production offshore, which drives a lot of activity…but it is a place where there is a consensus between Government, the population at large and industry to work together to invest in research and development, and innovation. This is the best place we could possibly be in Canada to do this very large innovation project.”
Canatec is one among many ocean technology companies finding a home in Newfoundland and Labrador. The environment in the province – both physical and in terms of support – is proving to be conducive to world-leading cold-ocean and arctic research. Its sub-arctic conditions, the steady supply of skilled professionals from Memorial University and other academic institutions, and the strength and support of its long-established ocean technology cluster and Government make Newfoundland and Labrador the Path to the ArcticTM for companies like Canatec.
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