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Impact Canada – Oil Spill Response Challenge

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More than 4 million barrels of oil are moved through Canada every day by various means, including cargo ship, rail, transport truck and pipeline. While Canada has a world-leading marine safety system that ensures we can respond quickly to spills in Canadian waters, oil spills remain a risk. Even a relatively small oil spill can have devastating effects on surrounding ecosystems, wildlife, and communities, especially coastal and Indigenous communities.

With over 240,000km of coastline and 890,000km2 of freshwater spread across the nation, and with particularly challenging weather and geographical conditions, Canada needs oil spill response solutions suited to our diverse aquatic environments. It is crucial to detect and respond quickly and effectively to reduce the impact on oil spilt in freshwater, marine, Arctic, and remote environments. Building on Canada’s strong marine safety system, the Government of Canada is calling upon innovators to deliver game-changing solutions that effectively decrease response time and/or increase environmental recovery in diverse Canadian aquatic environments when compared against conventional technology.

As part of the Impact Canada initiative, Natural Resources Canada is investing in the expansion of oil spill detection and recovery solutions by allocating up to $10M to accelerate the development of technologies that improve the detection and/or expedite recovery of oil spills in aquatic environments.

The Oil Spill Response Challenge, with its two streams, will spark new ideas and engage diverse perspectives to spur the development of innovative and rapidly deployable solutions that improve oil spill response in diverse Canadian aquatic environments. The Detection Stream targets development of solutions that improve response time by improving detection time and data availability to inform and expedite emergency response measures. The Recovery Stream targets solutions that increase recovery of oil spilt in water.


The Challenge received a significant number of strong applications, which were reviewed by an expert review committee. After a process of careful deliberation, the review committee selected the 10 Semi-finalists, from a pool of 87 submissions, who have been recommended to receive up to $300,000 for the development of their technology and carry on to Stage 2 of the Challenge. In Stage 2, Semi-finalists will have one year to develop their prototype and will compete to receive up to $1M each and the chance to become a Finalist in the Challenge.

More Information

Up to 5 Finalists whose prototypes show the most promise will be selected to move on to Stage 3 of the Challenge. At this stage, Finalists will have one year to accelerate and scale up their solutions and conduct an early-stage demonstration. Participants will be required to rigorously test and evaluate the effectiveness of their solutions and report on their results.

Grand Prize

One winner will be selected from the group of Stage 3 Finalists and will receive a $2M Grand Prize!

For full details on the Challenge process, please visit the Impact Canada website.

Finalists – Fall 2023

Each of the five Finalists competing for the Grand Prize will also receive up to $1-million to support the continued scale-up and demonstration of their oil spill response solutions.

Semi-Finalists - Fall 2022

Interested in how the Semi-Finalists are navigating this Challenge? We asked them!

Semi-Finalists Insights

Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc.

Aqua-Guard Spill Response Incorporated’s proposed solution involves recovery module(s) that mechanically recover floating oil sheens with unprecedented high oil/water efficiency.

Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative

Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative’s proposed solution involves a highly efficient, modular oil skimming system that can be easily packed into totes and transported by First Nations community responders for fast response to spills in coastal waters.

Concordia University

Concordia University’s proposed solution involves the use of multifunction surface washing agents as an efficient and scalable solution for enhanced oil spill response on Canadian shorelines.

Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University’s proposed solution involves the development of a rapidly deployable system of surface and underwater robotic vehicles with state-of-the-art sensors, profiling systems, and samplers to inform oil spill decision-making and response.

LGM Canada

LGM Canada’s proposed solution involves enhancing mechanical recovery with an oil boom that has a permeable skirt treated with a coating to block oil but pass water thereby increasing tow speeds and reducing tow forces.

SeaChange Marine Conservation Society

SeaChange Marine Conservation Society's proposed solution involves the detection and systematic mapping of anomalies, such as oil and other contaminants, through the use of water based induced polarization.

Tactical Electronics

Tactical Electronics’ proposed solution involves an innovative remotely operated surface vehicle (ROSV) capable of effectively detecting, characterizing, tracking, and ultimately expediting the recovery of oil spills in Canada's diverse aquatic environments.

University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba’s proposed solution involves the use of a drone to fly an advanced suite of sensors over a potential spill region, to detect signs of oil by sensing differences between uncontaminated and contaminated sea ice.

University of Northern British Columbia

The University of Northern British Columbia’s proposed solution involves a mobile system that integrates nano/micro bubble gas flotation with adsorption, for environmentally friendly and quick oil recovery from oily wastewater collected from oil spill response.

University of Toronto

The University of Toronto’s proposed solution involves a system that allows for in-situ treatment of decanted water stored in response vessels to increase storage capacity and speed oil spill response.

Find out more

The Oil Spill Response Challenge is the seventh Impact Canada Challenge led by NRCan. Read more about six Cleantech challenges here.

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