Board Candidate – Jim Hanlon

Vice President, Research, Industry, and Technology

About Jim

Jim is a 40-year veteran of the ocean technology industry, having worked in engineering, marketing, and management for companies in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and New England. His career has spanned the aerospace and defense sectors as well as the marine environmental monitoring field. Jim has worked in senior management positions with several large publicly traded multinationals. He has also been a business owner in two separate tech companies that have successfully grown and been purchased by large multinationals.

Jim currently serves as the CEO of COVE – The Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship. COVE is a 70+ tenant ocean technology hub in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also serves on a number of advisory boards & councils including the Ocean Tracking Network, the Ocean Frontier Institute, and the National Research Council of Canada’s Ocean, Coastal & River Engineering Research Centre. In 2013 he served on the Expert Panel of the Canadian Council of Academies studying the future of ocean science in Canada.

Jim is a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering. He also has an MBA in marketing from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and is a registered professional engineer in Nova Scotia. Jim was elected a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2020.

MTS and Other Association Experience

While there currently is not an MTS chapter active in Nova Scotia, in past I have been part of the organizing committee for the MTS/IEEE Oceans Conferences in Halifax in both 1987 and 1997. I am currently the industry chair for the organizing committee for the Oceans Conference coming back to Halifax in 2024. As part of this, I am active in re-establishing a chapter of MTS here in Halifax.

I have attended and participated in more than 20 Oceans conferences over my career. I was particularly honored to accept the Compass International Award on behalf of COVE from Dr. Rick Spinrad at the recent Oceans Conference in Seattle. I remain a big supporter of the organization and its goals – to promote awareness, understanding, advancement and application of marine technology. This completely aligns with my personal activities and objectives over the past 8 years leading COVE. I have recently announced that I plan to retire as CEO of COVE in 2020, but plan to remain very active in the marine technology sector and will likely have more time available for volunteer activities than in past!

What qualities and experience do you possess that make you a strong candidate for this position?

What gets me out of bed in the morning is curiosity, innovation and creativity. What is out there in the world of ocean technology and ocean business that I can work on today with smart, interesting people?

Over the past 8 years I have led the establishment of COVE, taking it from concept to full operation and securing $30 million Canadian of capital and operating funding and 70+ tenants along the way. I have also been a part of the leadership team that secured competitive funding for two key ocean initiatives in Canada: The Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) and the Ocean SuperCluster (OSC). OFI is a $220 million Canadian ocean research program exploring key system level variables in the North Atlantic ocean. It involves researchers at three Canadian universities as well as world leading institutions like WHOI in the US and Geomar in Germany. OSC is a $300 million Canadian ocean industry commercialization program half funded by the Canadian Federal Government and half funded by industry. It’s objective it to bring disruptive new technology to the ocean sector.

I currently spend much of my time working with ocean technology business leaders helping to find new opportunities for them. Being a previous owner of two ocean technology companies, I am very comfortable interacting with business owners and managers. But much of my career has also involved working closely with academic colleagues on industrial research projects. So, I am aware of the challenges and rich opportunities in developing strong ocean industry – university partnerships. I really value the time I get to spend with bright university and college students and faculty. Finally, many of my customers over the years have been government organizations, both military and civilian. In my current role at COVE I work very closely with senior colleagues at all levels of government, providing ocean industry advice and developing funding strategies.

At the end of the day, when someone asks me what I do, I still always answer that I am an engineer. I still believe that solid science and technology are the core ingredients for a vibrant ocean economy.

What are one or two key goals you hope to accomplish in this position?

The MTS, like many volunteer-driven professional societies, is challenged to clearly articulate it’s unique value proposition to members, potential members and the public. I believe it is critical for MTS to differentiate itself from other organizations doing related things. I have always seen MTS as having broad appeal to professionals well beyond pure ocean technologists and engineers – those who might normally be attracted to IEEE OES. (Open declaration – I am also an IEEE OES member). MTS brings together ocean engineers, ocean scientists, ocean business people, ocean educators and ocean public policy professionals around a common goal of advancing the sustainable use of the ocean through the application of good science and technology. This is a much broader constituency than more narrowly defined professional societies.

I think that a key MTS goal for the next three years should be to clearly articulate its unique value as a convener of like-minded but broadly based professionals around this core goal of advancing the sustainable ocean economy. Fundamentally, this is a communications challenge. I think that one of my strengths is passionately communicating big ideas to broad audiences and so I would very much hope to be able to help develop that strategy. op that strategy.

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