Above and Beyond the National Shipbuilding Strategy

Genoa Design International was founded in Newfoundland and Labrador 27 years ago. The firm provides production design services to the shipbuilding industry and has seen tremendous growth over the last 2 decades, due in large part to the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

According to Genoa Design, the NSS has had a dramatic impact on many facets of the marine industry in Canada.

“We are always excited to talk about the value of the NSS,” says Gina Pecore, Chief Executive Officer of Genoa Design. Pecore notes that, prior to the launch of the NSS, “there wasn’t a lot of activity in Canada, and so we did all of our work in the United States”. Thanks to the federal shipbuilding program, opportunities for domestic shipbuilders have arisen coast to coast to coast, and the sector has flourished.

In 1995, Genoa Design had about 20 employees. Now, the company has 300. “The NSS has fuelled that growth,” confirms Pecore, who adds that this is just one of many ways to measure the importance of the NSS for the Canadian shipbuilding industry.


Side-view profile of the red and white Canadian Coast Guard vessel Sir John Franklin.


Over the past decade, the momentum in the Canadian shipbuilding industry has enabled firms to invest in research and development, resulting in the introduction of innovative processes. Genoa Design went from providing paper-based engineering support, in terms of drawings and production design work, to creating a digital platform rooted in sophisticated 3D modelling software.

Under NSS contracts, Genoa Design was engaged to support the delivery of 3 state-of-the-art vessels. The vessels were built at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard, in connection with the Royal Canadian Navy’s projects for the joint support ships, the offshore fisheries science vessels and the offshore oceanographic science vessel. More recently, Genoa Design has been involved in the polar icebreaker project for the Canadian Coast Guard, developing a fully integrated 3D virtual model ship that will be used to support future vessel construction.

Simply put, the NSS has provided Genoa Design, and its peers in the industry, with the stability and drive to build Canadian capacity in terms of staffing, innovation and expertise. This has resulted in competitive advantages that can be leveraged at home, abroad and in other markets.

“Because of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, we are making technological investments and creating innovation solutions that bring a new technology capability to the world.”

– Gina Pecore, Chief Executive Officer of Genoa Design


The human aspect behind the technology

This Atlantic-based company is facing the same challenges related to attracting labour to specialized jobs in a tight labour market as many other sectors, which is why it puts a strong emphasis on learning. Genoa Design has partnered on training programs with Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic. “In fact, this is one of the reasons that Genoa was established in Newfoundland and Labrador, because of the strength of these schools,” says Pecore. Genoa has created more than 30 work term and internship positions in 2021 through these partnerships.

The company engages with the local technology community as well. In the past few years, it has hired high school students through a program with techNL, an association of provincial technology companies. The students are able to learn about different aspects of the shipbuilding business, such as industrial engineering. “Sometimes it’s even more important what you’re learning when you are in high school, before you make a decision about your post-secondary studies,” points out Erika Kelland, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing for Genoa Design.



There is certainly a lot to know, both about the design technology and the ships themselves. The basic engineering drawings that have become 3D models cover all the ship’s systems, from electrical wires to heating, ventilation and air conditioning and plumbing systems.

“We detail that until the digital ship is an exact replica of the constructive ship. We are also dealing with a very confined space and a lot of requirements inside that space. That’s why the people we hire and the tools we use are very specialized and constantly evolving and getting better and better to support not only the construction of the ship, but afterwards the maintenance of the ship”

– Gina Pecore, Chief Executive Officer of Genoa Design

For more information, visit the National Shipbuilding Strategy.