Acuicy, the Halifax-based maker of business intelligence software for emissions reduction, was victorious at the cleantech finals of the Atlantic Canada Cleantech Scale-up and Investment Challenge, a startup competition that aims to develop not just new entrepreneurs, but also new angels.

The company was one of three finalists in the cleantech division, with judging for a parallel, healthtech cohort to be held March 20. Competition was tight Wednesday evening, with the event running long because judges took more time than expected to deliberate.

Organized by Vancouver-based angel network Spring, as well as Imaginal VenturesForesight Canada, NRC-IRAP and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, this year marks the 10-week program’s first time coming to Atlantic Canada. Both founders and investors have received training on topics like due diligence, negotiating and structuring deals, as well as more specialized instruction about how to objectively evaluate the impact component of impact investing.

Chief Executive Allison Murray, who spoke Wednesday, founded Acuicy with chief innovation officer Dawne Skinner in 2022 to aggregate business intelligence data related to greenhouse gas emissions and use AI to reduce companies’ carbon footprints. The duo previously worked together at Murray’s sustainability consultancy, Upswing Solutions, helping companies to develop business-wide sustainability and climate change strategies, while Acuicy aims to offer the specific actions needed to reduce emissions.

Now, Murray and Skinner are raising a round of pre-seed funding as they eye the agri-food, manufacturing, transportation and logistics sectors as their beachhead markets. As part of the investment competition, their company will receive financial backing from prospective funders who participated in the program, with accredited investors having been required to commit $10,000 to participate and unaccredited investors $2,500.

“We've built that deep dataset and are continuing to build out our data mining and web scraping capabilities to include contextual mining,” said Murray when she and Skinner opened the round late last year, referring to the process by which data scientists ensure their analysis is relevant to a given situation. “So we have that database of different low carbon or decarbonization solutions for each industry.

“Our customers are large enterprises with net-zero targets. … They would deploy Acuicy via their procurement team to their thousands of suppliers. Each one of their suppliers would get their own login to Acuicy, and then they enter really easy-to-find information about their business. It's really designed for the non-expert to use because we know that most companies don't have in-house expertise.”

National and international businesses numbering in the double digits have trialed Acuicy’s AI in real-world situations and offered feedback. The vendors hired by Auicy’s main clients are incentivized to share their business data with the software, despite typically not being clients themselves, because the operational insights generated by the AI can help them save money on expenses like fuel.

Also in the running were St. John’s-based Collaskins and KorrAI.

Collaskins, co-founded by Janice Saunders and Ben Wiper, is a life sciences manufacturer focused on converting fisheries and natural resource waste into natural food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredients. Its products are pure enough for pharmaceutical applications, Saunders said Wednesday, but her team is starting with pet supplies and frozen foods because they are simpler to export. The company’s line of freeze-dried fruits was also recently picked up by Sobeys.

KorrAI, meanwhile, was founded in 2021 by CEO Rahul Anand. The company’s technology combines a range of high-quality satellite and aerial earth observation data to digitally analyze the stability of terrain for applications like mining and the insurance industry, since terrain movement can create risks like flooding and infrastructure damage, with clients in both sectors.