Victoria moves ahead with ocean innovation hub proposal

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The City of Victoria is moving ahead with its plan to establish a marine industry business centre in the heart of the city.

The Ocean Futures Innovation Hub is intended to position Victoria at the forefront of the marine industry in Canada, acting as an incubator for upstart marine-focused companies and research.

The project is a joint endeavour with the South Island Prosperity Partnership and is a key part of the City of Victoria's long-term economic plan known as Victoria 3.0.

The city has now issued a request for proposals to develop a plan for the maritime centre in downtown Victoria.

"This initiative will lead to the growth of a strong regional ocean and marine ecosystem that supports business needs throughout the innovation continuum,” said Alex Rueben, executive director of the Association of BC Marine Industries, in a statement Friday.

"It will foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and global competitiveness," Rueben added

The city says the Ocean Futures Innovation Hub plan garnered overwhelming support from industry during a Victoria 3.0 roundtable last fall.

"Along with providing shared resources, a space for collaboration and educational events, the Ocean Futures Innovation Hub is an accelerator and incubator, offering critical business resources and mentorship needed for early-stage companies to grow,” said Julie Angus, CEO of Open Ocean Robotics.

Some say the innovation hub will be a crucial stepping stone away from a tourism-dependent economy in a post-COVID-19 world.

"Victoria harbour and the marine highway are strategic assets that are unique to our region,” said Sage Berryman, co-CEO Ralmax Group of Companies. “The Oceans Futures Innovation Hub has the potential to be the cornerstone of the region’s pathway to post COVID-19 economic recovery.”

The city says the hub will help deliver on the province's CleanBC economic and environmental plan

All proposals for the plan must be submitted by Aug. 21.