It's like driving a car, he says, you've got to practice till it's second nature. And the only safe way to practice in dangerous conditions is through simulation. Billard's company is based in the province's capital city St. John's, a city perched on the edge of the bold North Atlantic. What makes this just the right environment for a young company such as VMT is not just its physical proximity to the ocean, but its location at the center of a thriving ocean technology cluster that has a worldwide reputation for excellence. St. John's is home to world-class research and development infrastructure. Memorial University of Newfoundland's Ocean Sciences Center is a leading Canadian cold oceans research facility. The Marine Institute's flume tank looks at how water currents affect nets and fishing gear. The National Research Council's Institute for Ocean Technology (NRC-IOT) evaluates the design of vessels and offshore structures in its ice tank, towing tank and offshore engineering basin. The IOT's wave tank is used to test yacht designs for America's Cup syndicates. Consider that Newfoundland and Labrador has 500 years of experience in the fishery, a growing offshore petroleum industry, more than 10,000 miles of coastline, a yearly crop of icebergs migrating south from Greenland and some of the wildest weather anywhere, and you've got a recipe for innovation -- whether in the area of iceberg tracking and ice management, electronic navigation and communications, or lifeboat simulation and design. Newfoundland and Labrador is home base for Rutter Inc., the company that pioneered development of voyage data recorders for ships; ICAN sells its marine navigation and communications software and electronic charting systems worldwide; C-CORE manages the Polar View project that monitors Arctic and Antarctic conditions for the European Space Agency (ESA); and the Canadian Center for Marine Communications (CCMC) recently worked with Ireland's Marine Institute and the Geological Survey The Offshore Safety and Survival Centre in St. John's offers a comprehensive range of safety and emergency response training courses to the offshore petroleum, marine transportation, fishing and land-based industries. 44 MTR May 2007
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