An interview with Innovator of the Year Julie Angus
Recently, BC Business announced Julie Angus, CEO and Co-Founder of Victoria’s Open Ocean Robotics, as Innovator of the Year in their inaugural Women of the Year Awards. As the first woman to row across the Atlantic, she has been named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year and one of Canadian Geographic’s Greatest Women Explorers.
Open Ocean Robotics is building an IoT of the sea using autonomous wind and solar-powered boats. They’re transforming how we study, protect and utilize our oceans. They won the BC Resource Industry prize package at 2019’s New Ventures BC awards, received $10,800 from our Tech Co-op Grants Program, and have taken advantage of our Venture Acceleration Program.
We talked to Julie about her accomplishments and what’s next for her company.
Q: Congratulations on your win! How do you feel?
Julie: Thank you! I am honoured to receive this award and it really reflects the amazing things our team has accomplished. We are continuously pushing the boundaries of technological innovation to find solutions to solve some of the most challenging problems our oceans and the industries that operate in them face.
Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
Julie: I am extremely proud that what started out as a project in our garage is now a company that employs incredibly talented engineers and scientists who are building cutting edge technology. Last month we built our first production solar powered boat and integrated a multibeam sonar system into it, making it the first ever exclusively solar powered survey boat. We then demonstrated its capabilities in a successful pilot for the Canadian Coast Guard where we mapped parts of Okanagan Lake. This is a remarkable achievement for our team and just the start as we continue to integrate additional sensors and improve our ability to collect ocean data.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for future female entrepreneurs and innovators?
Julie: I would encourage all women to pursue their passions, take on great challenges and not be afraid to fail. To succeed in innovation, we need to push boundaries, of technology as well as our own comfort zone, and with that comes the risk of failure. But if we don’t try, we’ll never know what could be accomplished. So, I would say, set your goals high and keep working towards them one step at a time.
Q: What’s next for Open Ocean Robotics? Anything exciting on the horizon?
Julie: We are very excited to continue demonstrating how our autonomous boats can be a platform for a broad range of ocean and environmental data collection. We are working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to integrate additional oceanographic sensors that will allow us to understand our oceans better. 80% of the ocean is still unmapped and unobserved — our vision is for our boats to be like satellites for the sea, helping create a digital ocean that benefits us all.