The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has committed $2.2 million to support the growth of the emerging biotechnology sector at the Verschuren Centre in Sydney, Cape Breton.

The funding is being provided to the Centre and to four companies which are conducting R&D and commercialization of technologies that will produce more environmentally-friendly products and high-quality food.

The Verschuren Centre is a not-for-profit facility that provides contracted services in the areas of bio-processing, marine processing, carbon transformation, bioplastics, energy storage and sustainable resource use.

“The Verschuren Centre assets and service model, combined with the investment and support of our federal partners, provide a perfect scale-up environment for some of the most cutting-edge new technologies in the clean tech and bio-economy space in Canada,” Beth Mason, CEO of The Verschuren Centre, said in a statement. “These companies draw top talent and investment to our province.”

Earlier this month, Entrevestor reported that at least seven companies from outside the region have recently established operations in Sydney, attracted by the facilities at the Centre, which spun off last year from Cape Breton University.

The Centre is positioning itself as a go-to destination for companies that need fermentation facilities to scale up from their lab-bench prototypes. Its fermentation facilities are the right size to bridge the gap between laboratory prototypes and industrial production, with equipment that lets companies create batches of chemicals as large as 70 to 100 litres.

Ventures that want access to the Centre’s facilities apply to the AscendBio accelerator program, run jointly by Innovacorp and the Centre.

Paul Richards, who heads up Innovacorp’s agritech and bioresource division, said there are currently eight to 10 companies in AscendBio, and another 10 in the pipeline. The participating companies have raised a combined $43 million of investment.

The companies benefitting from ACOA’s announcement are:  

Reazent, a creator of sustainable alternatives to replace petroleum-derived chemicals in agriculture and industry.

Alter Biota, which is developing green solutions that will allow concrete producers to reduce their products’ cost and carbon footprint while improving mechanical performance.

Phycus Biotechnologies, which develops naturally derived, plant-based ingredients for cosmetics to address the demand for natural products.

Kraken Sense, which develops devices that test food and beverage products for bacteria.

Funding is provided through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.


Disclosure: ACOA is a client of Entrevestor.