Operational funding for ocean tech site sails in from Irving

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Operational funding for ocean tech site sails in from Irving

With construction well underway on what will become an ocean technology and science research centre, the site now has operational funding.

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, or COVE, is taking shape on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour at the site of a former coast guard base.

The provincial and federal governments have put up $20 million to transform the aging location into a state-of-the-art research and development centre that will include labs, office space and direct water access.

On Thursday, Irving Shipbuilding announced $4.52 million over five years to cover programs and operations at the site. The money is part of the company's agreement to invest $12.5 million toward a long-term, sustainable marine industry in Canada after winning the contract to build Arctic offshore patrol ships.

Irving Shipbuilding CEO Kevin McCoy said he expects COVE will help develop people and products in the ocean sector that can work with Irving as they're building ships.

"It strengthens Halifax as a site for ocean and naval architecture, entrepreneurship, engineering, development of ideas, and that's exactly what we're going to need to tap into as we build Canada's future navy over the next 30 or 40 years," he said.

COVE's CEO, Jim Hanlon, said the operational funding would be used for three primary areas: training and skills development, marketing and creating networking opportunities.

Hanlon said construction at the site continues to focus on demolition and removing things, such as walls and old systems to replace and upgrade the site. Two office buildings that date back to the 1960s are being converted to open-concept spaces. Garage space will provide direct wharf and water access.

When COVE opens next spring, Hanlon expects it to be full. There is capacity for about 200 people and it's his hope that will cover about 20 groups and companies at a time.

"One of our agendas is to make sure we get a good mix of small, medium and large," he said.

The hope is that mix also extends to other sectors including as fishing, defence, marine transport and tourism, and marine energy.

"We're hoping to have a good cross section of that," said Hanlon.