The Ocean Idea Challenge - Spring 2024


Ocean Startup Project


Ocean Idea Challenge


Ocean industries provide a livelihood for millions of people around the world. Our ocean is vital to our future, and creating more sustainable ocean industries is critical to solving important global issues. The Ocean Idea Challenge is a market validation competition that encourages prospective entrepreneurs to explore and begin to validate their early-stage sustainable ocean idea. Successful teams that demonstrate proven market interest for their idea will be awarded up to $7,000 toward eligible costs and be introduced to local technology innovation hubs to continue building out their product/service, in addition to other resources and benefits.

During the program, participants will receive access to resources and will focus on beginning to validate their idea during a customer discovery sprint to gain a thorough understanding of their potential customers’ situations, needs and pain points

Teams and individuals are encouraged to participate if they are interested in exploring ideas around reducing the environmental impact industries have on the ocean; improving ocean health; or developing a new or enhanced method to do more with less ocean-based resources.

The Ocean Startup Project launched the Ocean Idea Challenge to support individuals and teams who are interested in exploring ocean sustainability problems and validating ideas that could solve the problems they have identified.

Key Dates: 

  • April 30: Registration opens
    • Registrant meetings with Ocean Ecosystem Navigators will occur on an ongoing basis through the application period
  • May 15, May 28: Information Sessions (registration via Eventbrite)
  • May 31: Exploring Ocean Problems Workshop
  • June 7: Customer Discovery Workshop
  • June 9: Registration Deadline
  • June 10 to 13: Participant Selection
  • June 17 to August 30: Customer Discovery Sprint 
  • September 5: Selection of advancing startups 


To participate, you must be 1) an individual or a team without a registered business OR 2) A company that has been registered for a year or less and that has not yet launched a product in the market.

Whether you’re a student with a vision, a professional seeking meaningful change, a researcher with groundbreaking ideas, a tech enthusiast, or simply someone with a burning desire to tackle ocean sustainability, the Ocean Idea Challenge is your platform to turn aspirations into action.

  • Students: If you’re a student passionate about ocean sustainability and innovation, this challenge is an ideal platform for you.
  • Mid-Career Professionals: Professionals looking to pivot the career or contribute their skills to sustainability efforts are encouraged to join.
  • Researchers: Academic or independent researchers with a focus on ocean sustainability, eager to translate their findings into practical solutions, are welcome.
  • Developers and Technical Talents: If you have technical skills and are interested in applying them to sustainability, this challenge needs you.
  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Individuals interested in learning how to validate and grow a business idea, especially in ocean sustainability, are perfect candidates.
  • You must be at least 18 years old and located in Canada.

This competition is primarily designed for solutions that are at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or lower, but this is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about your TRL and eligibility, please reach out to

Funding Availability

Up to 25 teams will be selected to receive up to $7,000 each to support their validation efforts.

High performing teams will receive express entry to the next phase of the Ocean Challenge, where they will have the opportunity to receive up to $15,000 in additional support along with access to an entrepreneur-in-residence and other resources. 


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Deadline to complete the registration form (available in English and French)

For researchers who secure funding, please submit a signed OR-5 form and copy of the approved application to Research Services Office,

How to Apply

Step one: After completing the online registration form, you will be invited to meet with an Ocean Ecosystem Navigator to discuss your idea and the program requirements. 

Step two: They will offer sessions to help you explore ocean challenges in need of solutions, connect with potential teammates and partners, and learn best practices for validating ideas. 


PDF icon Ocean Idea Challenge Info Package.pdf962.71 KB
For Questions, please contact
If you have questions about the competition or registration form, please contact the OSP team at
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