Nova Scotian startups will soon have the opportunity to access about $1.7 million in non-dilutive financing through new programs unveiled by Innovacorp in the last few weeks.
The Nova Scotia innovation agency and early stage venture capital fund has made several announcements in the past few weeks. It’s worth stepping back and taking a look at what they mean for startups in the province.
Until last year, Innovacorp used to stage its biennial I-3 competition, which in 2015-16 offered almost $1 million in prizes in money and services. Then it also offered its Spark competition in specific regions, which would provide grants of $10,000 to $50,000 to each winner. And the agency made VC investments in promising companies, amounting to about $5 million or $6 million a year.
The VC aspect of what Innovacorp does will be unchanged in the future – it will still back early stage companies that are gaining traction. But other things are changing.
The biggest change is that the I-3 competition has been scrapped, and the Spark competition will now take place in four regions simultaneously, covering the entire province. An Innovacorp spokeswoman said that the 2017 edition of Spark will be a chance to assess the enlarged program. If it’s successful, Sprack in its new form could become an annual event. Whereas the I-3 awarded $950,000 every second year, the Spark competition is on track to award $800,000 each year.
The competition – applications for with close Sept. 21 – will award $200,000 in grants each of four regions across the province. Each applicant is eligible for as much as $50,000 in funding. Details can be found here.
Last week, Innvoacorp issued another statement saying that there would be a series of competitions that would offer further funding and in-kind services to two specific sectors – oceans and cleantech.
The agency said in a statement that the Nova Scotia government and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will back six business acceleration programs this fall, offering funding worth a total of $920,000. Most of the money will be paid out directly to the participants, though some may be paid to service providers assisting the startups.
These programs, to be managed by Innovacorp, will include a new Blue Solutions competition to find innovative ways to address problems in the ocean sector. There are also three other programs to help ocean technology companies develop their products and business models and demonstrate their prototypes in a real-life setting. And two programs will help cleantech companies address technical and business milestones and move closer to investment readiness.
“We’re investing in these programs to build on the tremendous ocean technology and clean technology development happening across Nova Scotia,” said Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business. “Our investments will help innovators and start-ups move their projects forward, helping us create opportunities for young Nova Scotians.”
Calls for submissions for the ocean-tech and cleantech programs will be made throughout September.