Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Hull Design Efficiency Challenge

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The results are in!

The winner has been announced!

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Fostering boat design innovation to promote economic growth and protect the environment

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is challenging boat builders to develop an innovative hull that maximizes energy efficiency, lowers operational costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hull Design Efficiency Challenge will:

  • encourage out-of-the-box thinking when designing fishing boat hulls
  • fuel innovation in the boatbuilding industry
  • reduce the amount of fuel used to move a fishing boat through the water:
    • Less fuel = lowers operating costs for boat owners
    • Less fuel = less greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere
    • Less GHGs = cleaner environment for everyone

[Henry Demone, Chair, Hull Challenge Selection Jury] 

The Atlantic coast fishery has thousands of inshore vessels and coming up with a more efficient design can make the fishermen more efficient, more productive and lower their carbon footprint at the same time.

There’s one winner…that gets half a million dollars, which is a very lucrative prize. But also, uh, I believe that the competition itself is going to create a lot of collaboration, even for those firms that don’t win…naval architects and engineers, ship builders, fishing industry…and that collaboration I think is going to be very helpful on an ongoing basis even for those firms, you know, that aren’t chosen as the winner.

I’ve been impressed with the quality of the submissions and I think that we’re going to have an innovative vessel design that will lower the greenhouse gas emissions of the Atlantic fishery.

And then you’ve got a diverse group of Jury members, each of who bring a different perspective, so we get into a number of healthy debates. The goal is to come up with the best answer out of those debates.

[White text on top of Hull Challenge graphic : ACOA Hull Design Efficiency Challenge – Grand Prize winner announced Winter 2021]

[Black text on white background: #HullFishNSeaChallenge]

[Canada wordmark]


Atlantic Canada is home to nearly 13,000 inshore fishing boats that use diesel fuel to power them to lucrative fishing grounds on the East coast. Boatbuilding and the commercial fishery are important economic drivers in the rural communities that dot the region’s coastline. The landed value of catches in 2017 accounted for just over $3 billion in the Atlantic region economy.

Why focus on boat hulls?

A hull is one of the most important parts of a boat because it has direct contact with water. The shape of a boat’s hull determines the amount of drag (pull) and how the boat will handle at different speeds and in different water conditions. A more efficient hull has less drag and uses less fuel to move the boat forward in the water.

The hull designs submitted in this Challenge must:

  • meet the needs of the Atlantic Canadian inshore fishing industry (boats under 15 m/50 ft)
  • focus on innovations to hull design while keeping the rest of the boat largely unchanged
  • meet relevant Canadian and provincial regulations for commercial fishing vessels


Up to 10 Semi-Finalists

ACOA will cover the cost of computer simulation evaluations for up to 10 semi-finalists selected after the first stage screening valued at approximately $6,000 each, to be carried out by the National Research Council’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre in St. John’s, NL.

Up to 3 Finalists

ACOA will cover the cost of construction and testing of scale models for up to three finalists selected after the computer simulation screening valued at approximately $60,000 each, to be carried out by the National Research Council’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre in St. John’s, NL.

Grand Prize Winner

The Grand Prize winner will receive a non-repayable contribution of $500,000, subject to entering into a contribution agreement with ACOA, to support further basic research and development of their design through pre-commercialization activities, such as prototype testing, etc.

Challenge details

Who can apply?

The Hull Design Efficiency Challenge is pan-Atlantic in scope and open to small and medium-sized businesses, other for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations and groups, and post-secondary/academic institutions registered to do business in Atlantic Canada.

Key dates

  • July 31, 2019: Stage 1 – Challenge launched and application intake begins
  • September 8, 2019: Application deadline
  • September 30, 2019: Stage 2 – Up to 10 semi-finalists selected
  • January 31, 2020: Stage 3 – Up to three finalists selected
  • January 2021: Grand Prize Winner selected