With humanity facing enormous environmental challenges such as rising temperatures and pollution from micro-plastics, cleantech is an increasingly important sector globally.
Atlantic Canada is no different, and the region has been nurturing some fine companies. As we celebrate Earth Day, we want to shine a spotlight on the founders of five up-and-coming Atlantic Canadian cleantech companies, who are building their technology and ideas in diverse areas.
They're the more recent entries into a sector that is on a roll, as we've seen this month. Dartmouth-based CarbonCure Technologies on Monday was pronounced a co-winner of the US$20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a five-year competition to find the world’s best products that use carbon dioxide. As one of two winners, CarbonCure will receive a prize of US$7.5 million (C$9.4 million).
Last week, Charlottetown-based Island Water Technologies announced a Series A funding round (thought to be over $2 million) for its Sentry subsidiary, with backing from two key ethical funds. Sentry uses real-time bio-electrode sensors to collect and analyze waste-water data for utilities. And the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency lent Halifax-based DeNova $250,000 to help develop its technology, which converts greenhouse gases into a protein that can be used as feed in farms and aquaculture.
For Earth Day, we're showcasing these up-and-comers in the cleantech space -- founders that hope to improve the environment with a triple-bottom-line business plan.
Khorcheska Batyrova and Anna Khusnutdinova
Ozone Bio, Sydney
OzoneBio is the latest company to move to the Verschuren Centre, which is nurturing an emerging biotechnology sector in Sydney. The two Russian Co-Founders, Khorcheska Batyrova and Anna Khusnutdinova, have left Toronto. They will work with the local mill and pulp industry on testing their technology which uses dead cells for waste products upcycling, instead of the live cells more commonly used. The founders hope to use these zombie cells to upcycle toxic waste into emission-free nylon 66, a high-performance polymer that offers high mechanical strength as well as rigidity and stability. They are currently participating in IndieBio, the Silicon Valley-based accelerator.
Pure Paint Labs, Debert, NS
Pure Paint Labs Founder Gena Arthur says the company’s Nova Scotia-made products are the only petroleum-free, plant-based paints in North America. The biodegradable paints are all made without parabens, off-gassing toxins, VOCs or microplastics, providing top-quality coverage and durability without impacting health and the environment. Among the new products the company is working on: a full range of colors for interior paint, as well as cabinet and furniture paint, and products for RVs and campers. Arthur says glamping RVs is a raging trend in the U.S. and an opportunity not to be missed.
Founded by Meghal Vijayan last July after he attended PEI’s Startup Zone accelerator, TVAAG is designing biodegradable athletic and leisure wear made from cotton and bamboo. Currently, most athletic wear is made from synthetic materials and chemical dyes, both of which are bad for health and the environment. In fact, fashion is often claimed to be the second most polluting industry in the world. Vijayan says cotton is durable, ideal for hard workouts, while bamboo is particularly comfortable and can be used for lighter workouts and leisure wear. TVAAG is taking pre-orders and is seeking to raise $30,000 to begin production.
Unbound Chemicals, St. John’s
Unbound Chemicals is working on a long-standing issue – the waste produced by the pharmaceutical industry. Blaine Edwards, Founder and CEO, says that for every kilogram of drug created, 100 kilograms of waste are created. With the pandemic highlighting the fragility of global supply chains, the problem has become more urgent. The company grew out of a Hacking Health event in St. John’s and was built at the Genesis innovation hub. It is currently participating in CDL-Atlantic while its new chemical retrieval process is being piloted with various drug manufacturers.
Community Forests International, Sackville, NB
Community Forests International runs an aggregated family forest carbon offsets project which allows individual forest landowners to pool their lands and achieve the economies of scale needed to join carbon markets. (A carbon offset is a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that compensates for emissions made elsewhere.) Program Director Zach Melanson said there are more than 80,000 family forests across the Maritimes and stewarding these forests for carbon storage could make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. The group, which is currently seeking investment partners, also works in Zanzibar and Mozambique, where it focuses on mangrove restoration.