St. John’s ocean technology company NavSim Technology got a $500,000 boost in provincial government funding Wednesday.
Susan Sullivan, minister of innovation, trade and rural development, announced the investment at the National Research Council-Institute for Ocean Technology on the Memorial University campus. The funds come from the province’s OceanTech Smart Growth program, part of a five-year $28-million strategy to expand the local ocean technology sector.
Alvin Osmond, NavSim’s chief executive officer, said the funding is a welcome shot of growth capital, which is often hard to find for small technology companies in the province.
“I think Newfoundland has at present one of the lowest rates of private equity investment in Canada, just a fraction of the levels you see in Ontario and British Columbia, for example,” he said.
“So this program, the OceanTech Smart Growth program, really fills that gap for us in giving us access to the necessary growth capital. We’ve got a great product, great technology, and we want to take that internationally, and that costs money.”
The province gets an equity stake in the project.
“It’s one that is redeemable, so over time as the company is successful, the money is paid back,” said Osmond. “But it goes in as an equity investment on the books, so it’s a very patient, flexible tool for us to use to help finance our commercial growth internationally.”
“I think Newfoundland has at present one of the lowest rates of private equity investment in Canada, just a fraction of the levels you see in Ontario and British Columbia, for example.” - Alvin Osmond
Sullivan said helping to develop local companies demonstrates to the global business community what can be done in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“For a $500,000 investment, I think what we’re getting, first of all, is the opportunity to show the rest of the world that we truly are leaders in many areas of technology, but with NavSim particularly, for ocean technology, there’s no doubt about the fact that we are leaders,” she said. “As well, from a corporate revenue perspective, in talking with the company, they’re looking to increase their revenues tenfold just this year, in the next 12 months, so they’re looking at about $4.5-million in revenue this year, and that helps to create jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. So they’re in a position now to hire at least five or six more employees with the moneys that we have given them. They’ll be looking at program developers and so on, and for those particular jobs, we’re looking at very high-paying jobs as well.”
NavSim started as a research project at the National Research Council-Institute for Ocean Technology and was turned into a business in 2002.