See the original article (french only) : Journal Le Soir
“Setting up this marine accelerator dedicated to accelerating startup growth in the ‘blue economy’ sector was supported by a unique group of research centres, innovation centres and businesses that have developed over the past two decades, including in Rimouski”, stated a press release from the SOPER.
One of the four programs offered by FLOTS will help support six businesses with strong growth potential over the next year. Each of these will receive coaching valued at $75,000 and get facilitated access to financing. Quebec startups are invited to apply to fill the open spots in the first cohort.
Two businesses have already been confirmed to take part in the program. The first one, Chasse-Marée (Rimouski), is preparing a cannery project that hopes to valorize the diversity of Quebec’s seafood products, promote responsible fishing and bring consumers and fishermen closer through strong values.
The second, M2Ocean (Québec City and New Brunswick), is using artificial intelligence to revolutionize marine cartography and navigation by deploying smart navigational buoys.
All sails towards development
At the dawn of a major economic transformation due to a desire to preserve the oceans, the moment is perfect to highlight the expertise of researchers and entrepreneurs involved in the development of projects with strong potential for development in various sectors of the blue economy, such as marine engineering, data intelligence, water protection and marine biotechnology.
The FLOTS accelerator will be a concrete way to implement important axes of the Avantage Saint-Laurent strategy announced on June 17, 2021, by the Quebec government, an ambitious plan to achieve high-performing navigation that is respectful of ecosystems, through various initiatives like the creation of a smart corridor.
This is in addition to the Blue Economy Strategy—soon to be announced by the federal government—as well as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development initiative supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The right circumstances
According to the SOPER, all conditions are met to deploy this economic growth vector along the St. Lawrence River. In collaboration with world-class research centres and several incubation and acceleration partners across Canada and around the world, FLOTS’s team wants to take part in the development of this most promising industry for tomorrow’s economy.
As a complement to traditional coaching services for businesses, the 8- to 12-month acceleration program should help six projects with strong growth potential to reach their full potential each year through specialized mentoring, high-level consulting services, and investment, tied together through business discipline.
“This is a fast-growth opportunity that provides startup founders with high-performance management and scaling tools and introduces them to a new business language that is compatible with investments in the sectors of clean technology and sustainable development,” says Amélie Desrochers, Director of Innovation at the SOPER.
The FLOTS accelerator intends to rely first and foremost on the strength of its network.
“There is already a prolific startup ecosystem and an advanced collective intelligence in the province of Quebec, with well-established practices to develop businesses with strong growth potential that match the needs and environment of local businesses. The goal is to harness the expertise associated with the blue economy and rely on the strong network of regional actors who stand out in the province, Canada and the world. We wish to build bridges and ensure a cohesive and high-performance coaching continuum to support the projects that emerge in the regions. There are great examples of 100% virtual accelerators that cover wide territories, like the Propel e-accelerator in the Maritimes. We draw on the best practices, and we add our own regional DNA,” Amélie Desrochers says.
Sébastien Tanguay, General Manager of Québec City’s technology incubator and accelerator LE CAMP, adds:
“At LE CAMP, we strongly believe in collaboration, in sharing expertise and most of all in the importance of maximizing the strengths of every actor to offer high-quality coaching to entrepreneurs. This is why we are very proud to share our experience and skills with FLOTS to set up programs and high-level coaching services and position Quebec as a leader in the blue economy.”
Alexandre Guindon, General Manager and Co-Founder of 2 Degrés, an incubator specialized in clean technology in Québec City, also sees this initiative favourably: “We strongly believe that innovation, the creation of sustainable wealth and the development of a more responsible economy start with collaborative approaches that rely on the valorization and pooling of our biggest strengths, our infrastructures and our talents. In that sense, for 2 Degrés, joining forces with FLOTS seemed both fundamental and perfectly aligned with our values. We are very proud and excited to take part in this major initiative to help develop innovative and thriving businesses in the blue economy, a promising sector for tomorrow!”
FLOTS’s acceleration program is also a gateway for international startups that wish to settle in the region. The coaching programs are personalized and designed to match the founders’ unique situation.
“Project leaders who work with the St. Lawrence River have a very different reality than more traditional technology entrepreneurs. They must preserve the resources and often go out at sea. They are located far from major centres and want to keep it that way. We have to make sure that we thoroughly understand their reality while allowing them to interact with the overall startup ecosystem in Quebec, Canada and the world. Each year, the startup industry brings over eight billion dollars in venture capital to the province of Quebec. Right now, 0% of these funds find their way to the East of Quebec, according to a study by Réseau Capital. This is what we want to change,” adds Ms. Desrochers.
From science to market
FLOTS also wants to act as a bridge for students who wish to explore new career opportunities. Through the Startup101 discovery program and the creation of multidisciplinary teams, students will have an opportunity to imagine new paths that are more in line with their personal goals.
“We have a lot of entrepreneurs with management training who want to get involved in the development of a startup but don’t necessarily have a business project of their own. On the other hand, we have students who are pursuing postdoctoral studies in very niche fields and have developed innovative and sustainable solutions that could be of use in tomorrow’s economy. It is our responsibility to connect those people so that new interdisciplinary synergies emerge,” Amélie Desrochers explains.
The program will include a “discovery visit” to introduce entrepreneurs to the region and its riches, the infrastructures and the expertise they could access. “And that’s not including the quality of life that is simply extraordinary,” adds Ms. Desrochers.
For Noémie Giguère, General Manager of Technopole maritime du Québec, “this initiative is very complementary and full of opportunities for the members of our network, both for those who bring innovations and those who are looking for concrete and efficient solutions. We also see it as an opportunity to increase the connections with emerging startups in Quebec, Canada and around the world. The blue economy is more than ever recognized for what it is: a major growth driver for tomorrow’s economy.”
“We must recognize that we are facing huge challenges if we are to lay the foundation for the development of a new, sustainable economy. The crisis only intensified the demand for clean technologies, and we have no other choice than to join forces and increase our ability to collaborate and share information efficiently. The market is ready for new scientific processes. We are merely reinforcing the support offered to entrepreneurs so that they can progress faster and as strategically as possible,” says Martin Beaulieu from the SOPER.