(St. John’s, NL: 05 Mar.2014) The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is investing $1.9 million in 12 business-led R&D projects that help increase the province’s knowledge-based economy for long-term economic benefit. The total value of the research projects is $4.6 million, the majority of which is leveraged from the private sector and federal funding agencies. The announcement was made today at Oceans Ltd.’s offices by the Honourable Terry French, Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation.Included among those companies were several related to oceans and aquaculture.

In a release from government, among the 12 companies identified were  the following oceans or aquaculture related Newfoundland and Labrador businesses: Oceans Ltd., Kean Marine Inc., Lester Farms Inc., Acoustic Zoom Inc., Seamatica Aerospace Ltd., and Seashore Consultants Ltd.

Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer of RDC is quoted in teh release as sayingh, “The common link among these businesses is that they are all responding to local and global market opportunities. RDC invests in R&D projects that are innovative and market driven.” He said that he is confident that the R&D outcomes of these projects will strengthen each company’s competitiveness and technical capabilities.

Oceans Ltd. a member company of OceansAdvance Inc. has used the RDC funding to hire post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr. Ahmed Zein. He is investigating the potential medical benefits that could be found within the organic seaweed extracts.

Oceans president Judith Bobbitt, was quotes in the relerase as saying, that her company has been, “investigating this resource for anti-acne, anti-cancer, wound-healing and other bio-activity to create a natural health industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. The investigation has led to positive results with clinical trials and preparation of patents in progress.”

Among the companies receiving R&D Proof of Concept were two related to the ocean technology sector, one in the are of transportaion adn safety adn the other in a new area of aquaculture. Seashore Consultants Ltd. provides marine management and consulting services for offshore vessels during inspections and refit. Seashore is in the final stages of developing a Vessel Safety Management System (VSMS), a software program to assist vessel captains  ensure that safety and quality certification processes are met.

In this project, Seashore will integrate their VSMS software with commercially available hardware to perform operational prototype testing onboard a 28-metre factory freezing vessel. If this project is successful, Seashore will have a turn-key VSMS with real-time reporting capabilities that can be tailored specifically to meet the needs of individual vessels. RDC’s investment is $239,579 with total project cost of $385,770.

Based in CBS, Kean Marine Inc. (KMI) harvests pieces of icebergs off northeast Newfoundland using a barge equipped with a hydraulic excavator arm. Under their current system they must return to port adn wait for th eice to melt before they can return to sea. The resulting icewater is used commercially in consumer beverages. For this project, KMI is undertaking R&D to improve the harvesting efficiency by developing an on-board ice melting system. This will significantly increase maximum payload and increase turnaround time for product delivery. Customer demand in local and international markets is growing. This project has the potential to assist Kean in increasing its client base and economic activity in this sector. RDC’s investment is $248,700 for a total project cost of $333,000.

In a unique aguaculture initiative, St. John’s-based Lester Farms Inc. plans to expand its production and sales of fresh produce by developing an aquaponics system, the most sustainable food production system available to-date. In ivolves the cultivation of plants and fish as part of an interconnected system in which plants filter out all-natural nutrients from fish water thereby conditioning the water for health fish cultivation.  This is the first large-scale aquaponics operation in Newfoundland and Labrador and could, if successful, enable Lester Farms Inc. to provide premium quality pesticide and fertilizer-free fresh fish and fresh vegetables 1year round. RDC’s investment is one quarter of the estimated $1 million proice tag for this project.

Among the three companies revceiving Industrial R&D Fellowships was Oceans Ltd. This research and technology company offers a wide range of ocean research and analysis services in physical oceanography, marine weather forecasting, and environmental effects monitoring. Oceans has been screening coldwater seaweed species to indentify potential extracts with anti-cancer, anti-microbial, wound healing and acetycholinesterase (AChE) inhibitory activity.

For this project, with a total cost of $117,000 (RDC’s investment is $37,000), Oceans hired Dr. Ahmed Zein, a Post-Doctoral Fellow, to continue this research. His extensive practical experience in the syntheses of natural product compounds, will help complete this research and focus efforts on developing seaweed products. If this project is successful, it has the potential to expand Oceans’ operations and allow them to enter a new market.
 

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Media contacts:
Heather Maclean
Director of Communications
Department of Innovation, Business
and Rural Development
709-729-4570, 697-4137
heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca    

Chris Flanagan
Director, Marketing & Communications
Research & Development Corporation
709-758-1021, 691-1009
chrisflanagan@rdc.org

Judith Bobbit
President, Oceans ltd.
709-753-5788
jbobbitt@oceansltd.com