In the last two days, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has announced $3.2 million to help finance a new artificial intelligence fund in New Brunswick, Halifax’s Volta, and several Halifax-based tech startups.

The federal government’s East Coast economic development agency said on Wednesday it would contribute about $997,000 to a $3.2 million fund to develop artificial intelligence, or AI, expertise and adoption in New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, or NBIF, is overseeing the fund.

Then on Thursday, ACOA announced it would provide a grant of $450,000 to the Volta innovation hub, and lend a total of almost $1.8 million to eight different startups. The grant will allow Volta to continue to offer its LEAP program for another two years.

“Atlantic Canada knows how to launch great ideas,” Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the minister responsible for ACOA, said in a statement. “These ideas and the networks that nurture them are driving economic growth through the jobs and opportunities they create. By investing in innovation, we are supporting growth and strengthening a system that will keep succeeding well into the future.”

Following is a detailed look at the funding announcements:

NBIF’s AI Fund

The AI Fund features several programs designed to accelerate AI research capacity in New Brunswick by developing the talent pool, engaging industry and helping companies to adopt AI. As well as contributions from ACOA and NBIF, private industry and institutions will contribute $850,000 to the fund.

"This fund will accelerate the creation and adoption of artificial intelligence solutions for companies through strategic partnerships with New Brunswick research experts in our academic and research institutions,” said NBIF Chief Executive Jeff White. “Additionally, it will support the training and development of experts who will be critical to delivering these solutions to industry.”

Volta’s LEAP Program

ACOA’s grant will allow for greater follow-up advisory services and extend the life of the LEAP program, which is led by venture capital veteran Toon Nagtegaal. The program aims to prepare entrepreneurs to apply successfully to startup accelerators.

“We are thrilled to support our thriving startup ecosystem in Atlantic Canada, and the funding from ACOA is further assurance in our efforts of establishing our region as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Volta CEO Martha Casey.

The following companies, all of which are headquartered in Halifax, received the following loans:

Milk Moovement


Milk Moovement, whose IT solution improves efficiency in the dairy supply chain, closed a $4 million equity funding round last spring and received a $1.5 million grant from federal agency Sustainable Development Technology Canada in November.

Side Door Access


Side Door, which arranges performances at unconventional venues, closed an equity funding round of US$3 million (C$3.7 million) in July, with which it hopes to increase its presence in the U.S.



B4Checkin specializes in Property Management Systems for hotels to make them work more effectively by developing innovative cloud-based products.

Kangaroo Solutions


Kangaroo Solutions operates a new Couriers-as-a-Service model to bring on-demand delivery to the 100 million people who live in the 6,000 small towns in North America.

Dugo Systems


Dugo, which helps enterprise clients monitor remote infrastructure, said in September it had secured its first American client, describing it as a Top 5 player in the cable industry.



Bright works with organizations to provide live and virtual wellness classes for their employees. Last June, the company raised over $1 million and now serves more than 50 companies across Canada and the U.S.

Mars VR Lab


Mars VR develops games in Virtual Reality to provide a safe environment that improves the effectiveness of pediatric therapy. It has partnered with the IWK children’s hospital to co-develop the program, which is currently in clinical research trials.



JackHabbit aims to use artificial intelligence to help users develop healthy habits to improve mental health. The company, which raised almost $500,000 last June, plans to sell its system to insurance companies in “white label” deals.


Disclosure: ACOA, NBIF and Volta are clients of Entrevestor.