The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has announced a raft of funding deals for Nova Scotia companies, including five startups, as part of the federal government's Jobs and Growth Fund, created last summer to buttress the economic recovery after COVID-19.

ACOA is administering $70 million of the total $700 million fund, with investments focusing on environmentally friendly and socially inclusive companies, among other criteria.

The five startups are all either cleantech or life sciences companies, and the funding is a mix of grants and loans. Here’s a look at them:

Salient Energy, Dartmouth

$200,000 loan

Ryan Brown, CEO

Salient is developing zinc-ion batteries for renewable energy storage, either at an industrial scale or in homes. Most current batteries use lithium-ion technology, which relies on technologically complex, politically contentious and environmentally destructive lithium mining. The $200,000 will go towards launching a pilot production facility.

Aurea Technologies, Dartmouth

$108,847 loan

Cat Adalay, CEO

Aurea sells a portable power generator designed for campers and hikers who need to charge their devices during wilderness excursions, dubbed the Shine Turbine. The generator produces 13.3 watts per pound, making it more efficient in terms of weight than currently available portable solar-powered chargers. Aurea will use the money to scale its production.

ZeroIN Foods, Dartmouth

$150,000 conditional loan

Edgar Sosa, CEO

Sosa is working on developing a next-generation sugar substitute that is made from carbohydrates sugars but cannot actually be digested by the body and therefore cannot contribute to obesity or other health problems. Sosa has previously said his product more accurately replicates the experience of eating sugar than do existing fake sugar products. ZeroIn will spend the money on establishing an R&D lab and paying for intellectual property protection.

Alter Biota, Cape Breton and Toronto

$95,000 loan

Mark Masotti, CEO

Alter Biota, which also does business as alterBiota, is developing a natural graphene additive for concrete production, which the company says increases the strength of the end product. The money will go towards buying analytical equipment to improve Alter Biota’s manufacturing process.

Phycus Biotechnologies, Cape Breton and Toronto

$50,000 grant

Aditya Vikram Pandit, CEO

Phycus makes fermented cosmetic ingredients as an alternative to the sometimes-harmful, petroleum-based ingredients historically favoured by the industry. The company will use its grant to hire a process and fermentation engineer to help it scale its production.


Disclosure: ACOA is a client of Entrevestor, and Aurea is headed by the daughter of Entrevestor's founders.