Nova Scotia life sciences industry group BioNova is looking for startups to compete in its twelfth annual BioInnovation Challenge pitch competition, or BIC, to be held in-person this year after temporarily going virtual.

The region's premier life sciences pitching event will feature a first prize worth $55,000, made up of funding and in-kind services.

“With recent reports indicating trends in startup failures in the region, we're more dedicated than ever to providing critical and proven early commercialization support to regional startups through BIC,” said Scott Moffitt, Executive Director of BioNova in a statement.

Now in its twelfth year, the pitching competition will be held during BioPort Atlantic, the annual conference for life sciences and biotech in Atlantic Canada, on Nov. 3. Before pitching, competitors can attend pitch training sessions and must make it through the semi-finals — both held virtually. The semi-finals are scheduled for Nov. 1, and organizers said the decision to hold them online was made to increase accessibility for startups from outside Halifax.

All semi-finalists will receive free access to BioPort Atlantic, as well as pitch training from coach Linda Plano.

Last year, the winner was MycoFutures North Atlantic of Newfoundland and Labrador. Founders Stephanie Lipp and Leonedest Gillis plan to use mycelium — mushroom roots — to manufacture environmentally friendly faux leather. The duo are experienced players in the space, with an existing mushroom cultivation business.

The BIC has helped to launch some of the region's leading life sciences businesses. In 2019, alumn ABK Biomedical raised a banner US$30 million funding round. 

In total, the BIC has distributed more than $500,000 of prizes to 80 companies.

Entrepreneurs interested in participating can apply here. The deadline is August 5.