Meet and greet

Jan 28, 2019 | News

Traditional Industries Embracing Technology and Innovation for Global Competitiveness

(St. Lawrence, NL) – The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) together with the Town of St. Lawrence and Ocean Choice International hosted the first in a series of NATI Innovation Days, to show how technology and innovation is being embraced in traditional industries to modernize operations, increase competitiveness, expand markets, and create greater economic opportunity for communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The world is changing and so are the markets in which Newfoundland and Labrador industries compete. Today’s NATI Innovation Day focused in on how Ocean Choice International has used technology and innovation in processing sea cucumber to not only develop a new market but also create new opportunity for St. Lawrence and its people, while also exploring how other industries, including the mining operation at Fluorspar, have also adopted technology and innovation.

“Technology and innovation transcends across all industries and it’s an important enabler of new opportunity. This morning we saw this in action while touring the fish processing facility,” said Nancy Andrews, Senior Director of Business and Communications at NATI. “This set the stage for a broader panel discussion this afternoon where leaders in technology, the fishery, mining, and municipal government came together to explore how traditional industries can leverage technology and innovation to evolve with the needs of global markets.”

Several years ago, Ocean Choice International leaned on its strong presence in Asian markets and its sales team to develop a market for sea cucumber, knowing species diversification was critical to the continued success of shore-based plants in rural communities. This year the company launched a new automation technology for its sea cucumber operation that makes the processing less labour-intensive, more efficient, and creates a higher quality end product that is more competitive in Asia.

“Sea cucumbers, a traditionally underutilized species is now a major part of our operations in St. Lawrence, for harvesters, and plant workers,” explained Blaine Sullivan, Chief Operations Officer at Ocean Choice International. “The innovative technology was developed and designed in-house by our own employees drawing on the collaboration and expertise of Ocean Choice engineering, seafood processing, and product marketing teams. This technology has allowed us to expand the sales of Newfoundland sea cucumber.”

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are some of the most innovative people in the country, and the world, and the Government of Canada is proud to support NATI’s showcase of that innovation,” said Churence Rogers, Member of Parliament for Burin-Bonavista-Trinity. “I’m particularly proud of the innovation happening right here in St. Lawrence, and the great example of collaboration between the town, Ocean Choice International and its employees to not only remain operational, but to increase competitiveness and execute on new ways to deliver a Newfoundland and Labrador product to the world.”



“There are few places that have embraced innovation more than the Town of St. Lawrence. Innovation in its simplest form is change, and change often manifests itself through new technologies. Whether it’s new methodologies for mining at the Canada Fluorspar site, or for the harvesting and processing of sea cucumbers at the Ocean Choice plant, progressive thinking provides the backbone of successful enterprises. Today’s Innovation Day was an excellent way of showcasing some of the realities that will become integral to every successful economy in an increasingly competitive world.” – Carol Anne Haley, MHA, Burin-Grand Bank

“Creating and maintaining a climate where innovation can thrive is key to the future prosperity for the Burin Peninsula and for the province. Government’s Business Innovation Agenda is helping businesses identify and seize new opportunities, enabling them to become more productive, competitive, and international. I am pleased to see our traditional industries embrace innovation and technology, and I commend NATI for leading this collaborative effort between government, industry and the local municipalities. Through The Way Forward, we are building and strengthening innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador.” – Mark Browne, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

“For centuries our people have been innovators, solving problems and finding new ways to do things out of necessity. Today we are continuing that tradition of innovation, and creating new opportunities in our local industries for the benefit of our community and our economy,” said Paul Pike, Mayor of St. Lawrence. “Today’s showcase is an exciting demonstration of how we are taking our place on the global stage with world-class products using our own innovation and technology made-right-here in St. Lawrence.” – Paul Pike, Mayor of St. Lawrence

“Canada Fluorspar Inc (CFI) has taken traditional mining to new heights in St. Lawrence. It’s innovation that sets us apart in the industry and we are proud to have taken a mine, which was first explored in the 1930s, to where it is today – a high quality and innovative operation. We are delighted to take part in NATI’s Innovation Day and proud to play a key role in bringing Newfoundland and Labrador to the global stage.” – Bill Dobbs, Chief Executive Officer of Canada Fluorspar Inc.

“The use of strategy and application of creative thinking to create economic value by Ocean Choice is an excellent example of smart, forward-thinking choices in the application of innovation and technology in traditional industries. At Bounce Health Innovation, we’re working to fuel the MedTech sector in Newfoundland and Labrador by also applying innovation and technology in order to decrease costs while, most importantly, improving patient experiences and outcomes. The positive future for our province is strongly tied to initiatives like this, using the adaptability and intelligence of our most valuable resource – our people.” – Mandy Woodland, Entrepreneur in Residence at Bounce Health Innovation

Media contact:
Nancy Andrews