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Q&A with Kendra MacDonald

Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Kendra MacDonald

CEO of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Q&A bubble career in ocean
What inspired you to become a leader in ocean?

With a father who went to sea with the military and mother from Nova Scotia, our family was tied to the ocean. Today, in my own career, I pivoted into a career in ocean after understanding the tremendous opportunities and risks it presented for my family and the country. I feel quite privileged to live on the doorstep of the North Atlantic where I can make memories with my children and also make a significant contribution to the sustainable, digital, and inclusive growth of Canada’s ocean economy. The role of CEO of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster allows me to leverage a career in technology, innovation and global market development with the opportunity and personal connection to the ocean. Canada is an ocean nation, with the longest coastline in the world and some of the most innovative people on the planet with a transformational opportunity ahead of us. This opportunity is in solving global challenges through accelerated, made-in-Canada ocean innovation to sell to the world.  It’s my honour to lead an incredible team and membership from coast-to-coast-to-coast who are collaborating to bring this potential to life in their work every day.

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What do you see as the biggest opportunity in ocean?

Canada, and the world, are in a race against time to combat climate change. This is a defining moment for our generation and it’s in ocean where critical solutions exist. Sustainable ocean growth is one of the greatest opportunities of our time – where with the decarbonization of our ocean sectors comes significant growth and the potential for tens of thousands of new jobs. With changing weather patterns, rising ocean temperatures, accelerated impacts in the Arctic including ice melt, and the quality of air we all breathe every day – our ability to do business differently in the ocean matters to every one of us whether you live by an ocean or not. For generations, ocean has been part of who we are as Canadians – providing a source of food, transport, energy, recreation, and a way of life for many. Now on the path to net-zero carbon emissions and a sustainable economy, the ocean, now more important than ever, plays a leading role.  We have the opportunity to work together in new ways across Canada to be able to accelerate solutions and address opportunities.

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Tell us about the OSC’s ambition for ocean in Canada?

There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the global ocean economy. With incredible momentum building; established, emerging and new ocean sectors growing; and a demonstrated commitment to innovation, the world is increasingly turning its attention to how Canada is doing business in ocean. In context of a broader $4 trillion projected global ocean economy, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster launched Ambition 2035 – a $220 billion ambition for Canada’s ocean economy for the country’s ocean network to work together to drive. Well supported, this shared ambition is driven by sectors with the highest growth potential including ocean energy, sustainable seafood, future of transport, ocean technology, recreation and tourism, and public sector. The realization of this ambition means five times the growth of Canada’s ocean economy, and five times the opportunity for Canadian companies, communities, and all those who want to be a part of the future of ocean in Canada and want to work together to achieve it.

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How do you measure success at Canada’s Ocean Supercluster?

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster is an industry-led transformative cluster that is driving cross-sectoral collaboration, accelerating innovation, and growing Canada’s ocean economy in a way that has never been done before. Success is indicated in a number of ways, but certainly measured through collaboration and impact. Our project portfolio currently includes more than 80 projects with a total value of $400 million, being delivered by more than 300 collaborative partners. This portfolio includes technology projects such as Canada’s first biofuel from forestry by-products, sustainable food for aquaculture from upstream oil and gas emissions, desalination of water to help bring drinking water to communities around the world, digital solutions for the safety of workers, and a full spectrum of solutions in the decarbonization of marine transport. It also includes building the ecosystem to deliver on our big ambition for ocean – starting and growing more ocean companies, increasing participation of Indigenous peoples and under-represented groups in ocean, helping address the talent gap in ocean sectors in Canada, and more. As we wrap up our first five years, we have built tremendous momentum and cohesiveness in Canada’s ocean network that didn’t exist before, with more than 530 members across the country, formal partnerships established globally, 100 new companies supported, 4,600 jobs created and tracking to create 20,000 more by 2030, and more than 130 new ocean products, processes and services. Now, embarking on our second mandate, we will build on what we’ve started with even more projects, partnerships and impact opportunities both in Canada with expanded reach into global markets.

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