Sensor Technology Ltd.: Making a sound move to Nova Scotia
Sunday, September 1, 2019
When the head of an Ontario-based ocean technology company – where the nearest ocean is a plane ride away – is asked why she isn’t in Nova Scotia, she gave the question serious thought.
“I met NSBI at an ocean business trade show,” says Niru Somayajula, president and CEO of Sensor Technology Ltd. “They made me think this might be a good place for us to establish a presence in Atlantic Canada.”
Sensor Technology makes underwater communication sensors for markets that include defence, oil and gas, oceanography, and fishing – fish conservation as well as commercial fishing. Specifically, the company designs and manufactures piezoelectric ceramics, custom acoustic transducers and custom hydrophones. Piezoelectric ceramic is the acoustic heart of most underwater sensors.
NSBI told Niru about COVE, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Dartmouth that’s a collaborative facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. Last November, Sensor Technology opened a small footprint there – but it didn’t stay small.
What started as one desk for Somayajula’s flying visits has grown to a manufacturing facility and a staff of seven, including Somayajula, who now spends 40% of her time here. The company recently took over a larger facility in COVE and plans to employ ten people by year end. “Finding good people has been an easy task,” she says. “That’s huge for us.”
“Finding good people has been an easy task. That’s huge for us.”
Working in ocean tech in Ontario can feel isolated, she explains. “We picked COVE to give my people a home base in Atlantic Canada where they can collaborate with other engineers who face similar challenges. Problems get solved faster when you have other people to talk to.”
The company has now split its product line into two. The piezoelectric ceramics remain in Ontario, and the underwater sensors are assembled in Nova Scotia. “To be so close to our customers will result in better products for us and for them. Being able to work face to face with our customers is game changing,” she says.
“Without NSBI, I don’t think this would have started,” she adds. “I can’t say enough good things about them. They’ve helped us to grow faster than if we’d tried to do this on our own.”