Meet NOVARIUM: the Blue Economy incubator ready to host your V.I.E candidate

Jan 9, 2023 | V.I.E. Blog

Jean Letourneau is the economic development director at SOPER (Société de Promotion Economique de Rimouski), an organization that assists businesses, entrepreneurs and startups through challenging projects and investments processes in Rimouski, Quebec.

To support innovation and promote Rimouski’s assets in blue economy, SOPER launched NOVARIUM, an innovation campus dedicated to the Blue Economy, which includes FLOTS – an accelerator that supports marine startups in their commercialisation phase. NOVARIUM is as a hub for research partners such as University of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR) and applied research centres in life sciences and marine engineering.

Well connected to the French ecosystem in Quebec, NOVARIUM is getting ready to welcome its first V.I.E candidate in a few weeks. SENSEAFR is a French SME dedicated to listening at marine ecosystems for conservation and sustainable development. Its V.I.E. (acoustic and vibration specialist) will contribute to the ship’s instrumentation for measuring noise and vibration in order to mitigate navigation impacts on marine mammals in collaboration with the University of Quebec at Rimouski and Innovation Maritime (IMAR), a marine applied research center.


Rimouski: a small city with a lot of resources

Located in the Saint-Laurent gulf, near the Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea, Rimouski benefits from a strategic location and a well-developed marine ecosystem. Internationally renowned for its Maritime Science hub and research centers, Rimouski also hosts the University of Quebec. Rimouski is home to about a thousand researchers and scientist working on marine issues.

The area gathers all Quebec leaders in the blue economy and a wide range of research fields that can team up. NOVARIUM works in close collaboration with Canada’s Ocean Super Cluster, which is funded by the Canadian Government. It also works with other marine hubs such as COVE and COAST, located in Halifax and Victoria. Its area of expertise includes ports, navigation and fisheries technologies, marine geomatics, pharmaceutical products with marine components and life sciences related to the sea.



The importance of creating bridges between researchers and businesses

NOVARIUM aims at provoking “collisions” – informal and spontaneous interactions that contribute to spread knowledge and support an organization’s production and creativity. The Hub promotes collaboration between startup founders and supports the industry through open innovation programs that aims at accelerating their climate transition. NOVARIUM members work in proximity with Quebec’s most innovative startups within the blue economy sector and alongside of world-renowned researchers.

The facility provides a collaborative coworking space for startups and office spaces to support their growth. “Most of the time, researchers keep going from one research to another without sharing the results outside of the scientific community. Here, they are invited to share their knowledge through agreements with serial entrepreneurs to advance innovation, collaborating with their peers.”  The blue economy sector can include various actors such as experts in AI, green energy, or engineering.




Working closely with the French ecosystem

Thanks to its network of business developers as well as through the CCI (French chamber of commerce) network, the SOPER developed strong partnerships with French companies and startups. It is especially well-connected to Bretagne and Côte d’Azur regions (Northwest and South of France).

Willing to reinforce this dynamic, NOVARIUM decided to provide a space where V.I.E candidates could comfortably work, reinforcing collaborations between France and Canada. It will host its first V.I.E. talent in a few weeks.

For the SOPER, it made sense to include the V.I.E program as part of the range of services it provides to French businesses.


“The V.I.E program serves French startups very well. This new partnership between our incubator and Business France will help them to strengthen their footprint in Rimouski’s area, and more broadly in Quebec and North America.”

NOVARIUM: a hub that goes the extra mile to support incubated companies

NOVARIUM currently supports 20 businesses through its marine accelerator FLOTS. It offers coaching programs (group and individual sessions), financing rounds support, lab facilities and material to experiment. NOVARIUM facilitate the access to start of the art equipment and expertise such as underwater drones, aquaculture facilities, etc.

The hub also provides a range of services to ease French businesses’ landing in Quebec. For example, members of NOVARIUM can access a list of expert contacts, including technopoles, ports and potential partners or customers.

Overall, NOVARIUM’s team is here to help navigate cultural differences and guide French talents in Canada. For French companies that do not have yet a subsidiary in Quebec, it can be reassuring. If a V.I.E candidate needs specific guidance to be proactive quickly, the hub can play a key mentoring role. It makes it a coherent landing space for them to develop their local business.


How to send a V.I.E in Rimouski?

To join NOVARIUM’s dynamic environment, your company must be involved in R&D and be considered innovative. Apart from that, the process is the same as for any V.I.E recruitment! You can get in touch with Business France to be supported throughout the recruitment process and contact SOPER to organize the arrival of your recruit in Rimouski. Additionally, SOPER will help you with the immigration process!

Once your application has been approved, your recruit will benefit from the same welcoming process as any new NOVARIUM member: support regarding lodging, clothing for winter, cultural habits, etc. The recruit will also integrate “Rezo Rimouski”, a networking organization that proposes activities and events outside of work hours, to help the newcomer soon feel at home.