Contact lens technology startup Coloursmith Labs has raised $600,000 in seed funding and announced the first two members of its board of directors.

Founded in 2018 by Dalhousie University researcher Gabrielle Masone, the Halifax-based company is developing technology that aims to allow contact lenses to filter certain types of light before it reaches the eyes.

The two board members are Wade Dawe and Rhiannon Davies. Dawe is the president of Brigus Capital, and Davies is a former vice-president and board member of Dutch optometry retailer GrandVision,

“Wade’s dedication to the company all this time has been nothing short of perfect,” said Masone in an interview. “And Rhiannon has a real finger on the pulse of the contact lens industry, and the eyewear industry in general.”

Masone, who Dawe describes as a “true innovator”, met both board members while completing Creative Destruction Lab's accelerator program in the past year.

Coloursmith’s product works by using “optical filters” to control which types of light pass through contact lenses. This determines what wavelengths the wearer sees.

The technology aims to help reduce the effects of colour blindness and guard against the negative health effects of excessive blue light exposure. Blue light is the light given off by computer monitors, for example.

About one out of every 12 men and one in 200 women with Northern European ancestry suffers from colour blindness, according to the United States government’s National Eye Institute.

The science on whether or not blue light from digital devices harms the eye is not settled yet, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. But Harvard Health warns that it does cause sleep disruptions, and may contribute to obesity and other diseases.

Coloursmith is also considering other applications for the optical filters, including treating migraines and light sensitivity.

The company previously raised $200,000 from startup pitch competitions, such as Innovacorp’s Spark Innovation Challenge and the Volta Cohort Competition, as well as other programs that support early stage businesses.

Masone used the money to build a prototype and file patent applications in all major, global markets for contact lenses.

The latest $600,000 has been provided by investors that include St. John’s-based Killick Capital, PEI’s Island Capital Partners and Dawe’s Brigus Capital.

It will go towards research and development, creating more “robust” patent protection, and allow Masone to hire five full-time employees, including four scientists.

When the optical filter system is ready for commercialization, Coloursmith will license it to major contact lens manufacturers.

“It allows us to get into the market faster and help more people with this technology,” said Masone. “We get to work with companies that have been doing this type of work for years, and combine what it is that we’re both very good at: their expertise in manufacturing and care, and our expertise in light-filtering technology.”