Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Hull Design Efficiency Challenge

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Meet Our Semi-Finalists

Midway through our challenge, eight applicants were retained and are moving on to the next phase of developing an innovative hull that maximizes energy efficiency, lowers operational costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Next steps for the semi-finalists

  • Currently: Stage 2 – eight semi-finalists undergoing computer simulation
  • January 31, 2020: Stage 3 – Up to three finalists selected for scale model testing
  • By July 31, 2020: Grand Prize Winner selected

ABCO Industries Limited

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia boat

ABCO Industries Limited’s Marine Group is located on the waterfront of the historic shipbuilding and UNESCO World Heritage designated town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The company, which changed ownership in 2018, has been in business for over 70 years.

ABCO’s specialty is building welded aluminum custom designed boats for regulatory, patrol, research, fisheries and other commercial applications. Their planing and semi-planing boats work very well. “We believe our standard semi-planing single prop design is efficient when considering the desired payload and speed requirements for each application.”

“We offered our standard design in a 50’ x 18’ lobster boat configuration in response to this design challenge,” says the company about their submitted design. “ABCO designs have been optimized for manufacturing in welded aluminum, which we believe is an innovative material for the Atlantic Canada fisheries.”

While ABCO sells its boats primarily in Atlantic Canada, it has exported its products to the rest of Canada and internationally.


Halifax, NS and St. John’s, NL group of people around a table discussing architectural plans

Allswater is a naval architects and engineering firm with offices in Halifax, NS and St. John’s NL.

In business for the past 16 years, their primary work is related to the design and build of workboats and fishing boats of all sizes and which are sold locally and internationally.

The company threw its hat into the ACOA Hull Challenge for several reasons.

¬“The fishing industry is one of our most prominent industry sectors. We wanted to showcase the work that we have done on other vessels, and provide a concept in a size that suits the Eastern Canadian inshore fisheries.”

Allswater says they like the idea of creating innovation in the region. “Eastern Canada has a thriving marine industry and much of it focused around developing marine technology. It’s great to see this (challenge) extended to the local boatbuilding industry to fuel the modernization of fishing vessel design and operations. This will help to promote innovation throughout the sector, and we want to be a part of that.”

Aspin Kemp & Associates

Montague, Prince Edward Island group of people at on a baseball field

Aspin Kemp & Associates is another engineering firm that is vying for top honour in ACOA’s Hull Design Challenge.

In business for 23 years, Aspin Kemp & Associates designs and builds (with partners) fishing boats, tour boats and research vessels that are then sold across Canada, the United States and into the Caribbean.

Aspin Kemp has been improving efficiencies with hybrid propulsion systems over the past few years. The ACOA Hull Design Challenge offered an opportunity to match up hybrid propulsion with a new efficient hull design. “We realized there is even greater potential for improving these efficiencies when combining hybrid propulsion with the use of a new hull design for fishing vessels. This challenge gives us the opportunity to propose a new semi-displacement hull design for the fishing industry, and we are proud to have been selected as a semi-finalist.“

Over a decade ago, Aspin Kemp moved its headquarters from Ontario to PEI and started a manufacturing and engineering facility. “Creating innovation and jobs in the region was a core motivator in this decision to expand in Atlantic Canada. We hope this project will increase our local economic impact and help grow our innovation portfolio.”

Atlantic Boat Builders

Bas-Caraquet, New Brunswick esther boat with crew around it

Atlantic Boat Builders Inc. was founded in 2010 by five local companies whose shared vision for shipbuilding in northern New Brunswick was focused on the need to supply modern and efficient boats to a fishing industry that would be in constant evolution.

Atlantic Boat Builders designs and builds commercial fishing boats that meet the needs of the lobster, snow crab, groundfish, scallop and sea cucumber fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. They are currently looking to expand their markets to the United States and Europe and developing an energy efficient prototype patrol vessel.

Applying to compete in the ACOA Hull Design Challenge came naturally. “Our Eco-design is being developed to reduce water displacement – there is less draught and the hull is not as deep, so there is less damage to the ocean ecosystem.”

"When you factor in that the boat’s engine can more easily push the hull through the water, that reduces fuel consumption. “The importance of being innovative in this sector starts with respecting the environment and the ocean ecosystem. These are fragile environments and we need to provide the fishing industry with tools that will reduce our impact.”

Blumara Corp.

Halifax, Nova Scotia three people from Blumara

Nova Scotia’s Blumara Corp. is a relatively new player to the region recently completing three years in business. Working with construction partners, Blumara provides a range of design, engineering and project management services for the marine and naval sectors, with a focus on vessel structural design and shipyard construction support.

For the time being, their clients are mostly located in Atlantic Canada.

Why did the company submit an application to the ACOA Hull Design Challenge?

“Blumara has a particular interest in reducing the carbon footprint of vessels through innovative environmentally-conscious design, and we have experience in designing fishing boats for the Atlantic region. This Challenge gives us an opportunity to combine both of these aspects. The Challenge also aligns with key values of the company and it will help grow the competitiveness of the local marine industry well into the future.”

D.M.R. Boat Design Ltd. & Aylward Fibreglass Inc.

Terence Bay, Nova Scotia & Shelburne, Nova Scotia


D.M.R. Boat Design Ltd. is a Nova Scotia company that focuses on marine hull design technology.

Recognizing that fishing vessel designs have not changed much over the years, D.M.R. Boat Design Ltd., in collaboration with Aylward Fibreglass Inc., has worked to develop an innovative hull design that will provide better performance and greater stability, and be kinder to the environment.

“The Hull Design Challenge raises awareness of a need in an industry that is dominated by traditional boating practices which have become inefficient and expensive. This platform will create a shift towards new eco-friendly designs which will address the critical effects of climate change on the ocean environment.”

“While the Hull Design Challenge is starting in Atlantic Canada, it has the potential to have a broader impact by reaching millions of boaters worldwide.”

TriNav Marine Design Inc.

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador Trinav employees

Newfoundland and Labrador’s TriNav Marine Design has been designing fishing boats for the Atlantic Canadian market for 25 years.

The company submitted its proposal to the ACOA Hull Design Challenge to fine tune one of their existing designs.

“We wanted to incorporate some innovative design features into our typical and popular 14.9 meter fishing vessel. The fishing industry has always needed to be innovative, and this (Challenge) is an important step forward focusing exclusively on hull efficiency.”

What do they think of the challenge format?

“With 25 plus years experience and a leading designer of fishing boats in the Atlantic region, we felt we needed to be a participant. Competition in a friendly challenge is always interesting.”

Wedgeport Boats Ltd.

Lower Wedgeport, Nova Scotia Water in the distance and forest in the front

Builders of commercial fishing and aquaculture vessels for over 20 years, Wedgeport Boats Limited sells its boats throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec, British Columbia and the northeastern United States.

There are a couple of motivations behind Wedgeport Boats’ application to the ACOA Hull Desgin Challenge.

“We really like the idea of designing a hull which will save both time and fuel costs while not compromising what traditional fishing vessels have evolved into in this present day. This Challenge also allows us to design and promote another unique variation of a hull into the custom boat building industry.”

And for Wedgeport Boats Limited, the Challenge approach provides additional benefits. “This challenge allows us the opportunity to be involved in a friendly competition with others in the industry, and it allows us to see the different skill sets of the pretty amazing individuals we work with in building our vessels.”

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
  • By July 31, 2020: Grand Prize Winner selected