Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Seafaring made safer

VMT’s SurvivalQuestMT lifeboat simulator
It’s too late to test your skills when an emergency strikes – especially if the emergency strikes on a small vessel in the midst of rough seas.

Though being prepared to launch lifeboats safely can mean the difference between life and death, there has never been a consistent and safe way to train and test workers at sea in the use of survival craft.

Until now—thanks to a St. John’s-based company that is helping seafarers worldwide better prepare for emergencies at sea.

Founded in 2004, Virtual Marine Technology (VMT) has created the world's first survival craft operation simulator for small vessels. At VMT, lifeboat navigators can practice a variety of emergency launch conditions for survival craft (lifeboats), fast response craft and high speed electronic navigation training – in a safe, focused learning environment.

According to the company’s president and CEO, Anthony Patterson, collaboration with Memorial University, along with the Marine Institute and the Institute for Ocean Technology in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, helped create the simulator. “Our partnership is a good example of how innovation-to-commercialization should work,” says Anthony.

Though the majority of its market is still in Canada and the US, VMT has sold its product to Mexico and Germany. And thanks to support from ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP), the company is marketing its products and services in other global markets, such as Chile.

“ACOA has helped us expand into the international market place,” Anthony says.  “This is very much a ‘show me’ industry, so the Agency helped us develop demonstration units to bring to trade shows and conferences.  We’ve travelled to South America twice on ACOA trade missions and were able to secure agents and commercial prospects. The Agency has really come through for us.”

Although this is a young company (most of its 20 employees are under age 30 and VMT has hired more than 60 work-term students), through aggressive marketing efforts over the past three years the company has doubled its annual sales.

Buoyed with employees who have coast guard, teaching and regulatory experience, VMT’s team also offers professional services, including custom simulation for a variety of military and civilian maritime operations. 

Today, the company is developing more products applicable to a variety of industries, such as online navigation instrument trainers (using radar and GPS), computer-based safety manuals, and customized training for a variety of maritime vessels.

And products that assure a safer experience on the water can only spell relief for the families of seafaring people, waiting at home.   

Click here to view a video interview with Virtual Marine Technology.

Published October 28, 2011