Sherbrooke, Que,-based Oneka Technologies, which recently opened an office at the Dartmouth-Based Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, will head up a new Ocean Supercluster project to install a wave-powered desalination system off the coast of Barrington, Nova Scotia.
Dubbed the Oneka Glacier Project, the $14.1 million deal will see Oneka collaborate with shipyard A.F. Theriault & Son, Quebec City water treatment specialists H2O Innovation and the City of Barrington to build and deploy a “utility-scale” version of its desalination buoy.
Of the total cost, $6.7 million is coming from the Ocean Supercluster, in the wake of its recent mandate renewal from the federal government, which included instructions for the Supercluster to scale back its prior, one-to-one private sector matching ratio.
“As Canadians, we are privileged with an abundance of fresh water. However, fresh water scarcity is one of the world's greatest 21st century challenges,” said Oneka CEO Dragan Tutic in a statement.
“Propelled by the invaluable help of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, this sustainable source of water will make coastal populations and industries across the globe, including the Barrington Municipality, in Nova Scotia, more resilient to impacts of climate change.”
Oneka’s desalination buoys are notable for their zero-emissions energy source, since conventional desalination techniques are notorious for their high energy consumption, using about three kilowatts of energy to produce a single metre cubed of fresh water, according to research from the International Water Association.
The company describes its technology as being capable of lowering water costs by as much as two thirds in its water-scarce target markets.
Founded in 2015 by mechanical engineer Tutic, Oneka previously tested a prototype off Eastern Passage, near Dartmouth, with the help of a roster of local contractors, including industrial diving company RMI Marine and data analytics firm LeeWay Marine, in a project that CEO Tutic described as highly successful.
The company's 2021 funding round, which included $5.5 million of equity and non-dilutive funding, was also led by Nova Scotia crown corporation Innovacorp, which last year became part of Invest Nova Scotia.
So far, Oneka has more than 25 employees and projects in Canada, the United States and Chile, with offices in all three countries.
And earlier this month Quebec bluetech support organization Novarium announced that Oneka would be one of eight companies to participate in the first cohort of its Flots Pro accelerator.
Flots targets companies with a product in the market, helping them to navigate the early phases of scaling, such as gaining their first industrial clients. It aims to encourage successful strategies in companies that improve the environment and are commercially viable.
The press release for the Oneka Glacier Project says the Ocean Supercluster aims to help make Canada the global leader in clean energy-powered desalination.
“We are extremely excited to announce the Oneka Glacier project, our first ever Quebec-led project that will not only deliver new economic activity in ocean, but also create a solution to a significant challenge – access to freshwater for communities of all sizes,” said Ocean Supercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald.