This year’s BioPort life sciences summit in Halifax came complete not just with a selection of presentations from pre-seed and seed-stage startups, but also an announcement: provincial industry group and conference organizer BioNova is now Life Sciences Nova Scotia.
Chief Executive Sean Awalt, who has held the role for a year, announced the rebrand to a sold-out conference at the Halifax Marriot Harbourfront Wednesday.
“This isn’t just a name change,” said Awalt to the tune of “Can't Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake. “It’s a reflection of our evolving goals and aspirations.”
Biotechnology, which the organization’s original name references, usually refers to innovations that leverage biological processes for other purposes. But Life Sciences Nova Scotia, now in its 30th year, works with companies ranging from medical device-makers to information technology companies like medical consulting platform Virtual Hallway.
The startup pitches, meanwhile, were divided into a morning session and an afternoon session. The morning session featured a trio of pre-seed companies, while a quartet of seed-stage companies pitched in the afternoon.
Here’s a look:
PRE-SEED (Host: Matt Cooper, CEO, Volta)
Led by clinical pharmacology PhD Emily Johnston, who also works in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Halifax Infirmary, Pain Coach is a platform designed to give people who have had surgery personalized guidance to help them recover faster.
Co-founder Rashmi Prakash, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Biomedical Engineering, launched Aruna in 2020 with fellow UBC graduate Lanna Last to develop plastic-free, fully-compostable menstrual pads.
Myomar, the brainchild of Dalhousie University biochemistry PhD Rafaela Andrade, is developing a urine test to monitor muscle degeneration, which can be caused by diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
SEED-STAGE (Host: Jason Cleaversmith, CEO, Emergence)
Dr. Jacob Cookey
Cookey, a psychiatrist, founded Virtual Hallway with fellow MDs Dr. Luke Napier and Dr. Daniel Rasic, and with CEO Justin Hartley joining shortly thereafter, in an effort to streamline the administratively burdensome process of scheduling and documenting specialist consultations.
Dr. Karen Cross
Halifax plastic surgeon Cross founded MIMOSA to develop a handheld device for identifing wounds, such as bedsores via ultraviolet light before they become visible to the naked eye.
The only startup of the day not to be headquartered in Halifax, Infusd is based out of Windsor, Nova Scotia and has developed technology for dissolving oily micro-nutrients like Omega-3s in water, allowing them to be added to beverages.
SomaDetect, founded by environmental biologist Desphande, uses optical technology to track the quality of milk being produced at the level of individual cows during milking.