Covina Biomedical, once considered one of the hottest young bio startups in the region, has shut down and filed for insolvency.

Covina, which grew out of research at Dalhousie University, aimed to use injectable bone cement to repair the bones in people’s knees so they would not need expensive and troublesome knee replacements.

A person familiar with the situation said the company had three employees when it filed for insolvency in March.

Founded by Dalhousie University researchers Caitlin Pierlot and Brett Dickey, Covina (then known as Biofix) won the 2015 BioInnovation Challenge, which searches for the top new life sciences company in Atlantic Canada.

It proposed new technology that would help to repair knee joints before problems were so severe that they required implants.  The average cost of a knee joint implant procedure in the U.S. at the time was estimated at US$100,000. Knee replacements were the single biggest problem in orthopaedics with the global market worth over US$8.4 billion.

The company showed considerable promise, and was accepted into the Canadian government’s Canadian Technology Accelerator program, attending the Boston cohort focusing on life sciences companies.

It raised more than $1 million in equity funding from such investors as Innvocorp and the now defunct First Angel Network.  Innovacorp – which last year was merged into the new Invest Nova Scotia – invested a total of $750,000 in the company.  Covina had also received non-dilutive funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and NRC-IRAP, including a $500,000 loan from ACOA in 2018.

Past members of the Covina team are now working for other growing medical technology companies. According to LinkedIn, Pierlot is now the Director of Operations at Halifax-based ClearDynamics Inc., while Dickey holds the same position at IR-Scientific.  Justin Hartlen, a former head of Covina Biomedical, joined Halifax medtech company Virtual Hallway as CEO in February of last year.