Eleven teams of entrepreneurs have been awarded a total of $375,000 in the Spark Nova Scotia program, which aims to develop startups in Nova Scotia outside of metro Halifax.
The cash prizes – ranging between $15,000 and $50,000 – were distributed during a virtual awards ceremony Monday evening.
The Spark competition is divided into three zones – South West, North, and Cape Breton – to cover all parts of the province outside the capital. The goal is to find and nurture budding entrepreneurs in the rural locations, medium-sized towns, and the Sydney area by offering them mentorship and funding.
A total of $125,000 in cash was awarded in each zone, to be allotted at the discretion of the judges with no company receiving more than $50,000. That means at least three winners in each zone.
Organizers noted the diversity of the winners. Maskwiomin, a winner in Cape Breton, is a First Nation enterprise, while three of the companies are led by women.
“We were delighted to see so many high-quality start-ups from communities across Nova Scotia,” said Erinn Smith, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Association of Community Business Development Corporations. “We were thrilled with the training results, all delivered via Zoom this year, and we know the judges had a tough time selecting finalists and winners.”
The winners were:
Rest Assured Health
Kelsey Muller, Michaela Moore
Rest Assured is developing a web app that it hopes will automate parts of the communication process in long-term care facilities between nurses and patients’ families. Earlier this year, Rest Assured won the national Startup Weekend competition called “Unite to Fight COVID-19”. In the subsequent international competitions, the team was named one of the top 5 in the world, receiving $10,000 in funding from Differential Ventures.
Matthias Bierenstiel, Tuma Young
This company is dedicated to the ethical commercialization of soap made from birchbark oil, which can help to treat skin conditions. The product is based on a traditional Mi'kmaq formula.
Matthew Oakley, Douglas MacLennan
The company is producing a system that helps construction companies ensure that they are complying with safety regulations.
The goal of this company is to help prevent repetitive strain injury or help speed its cure using an innovative stretch device, called the ProStretch.
Nova Scotia North
Lord Abbey, G.L. Rao
This company uses plasma technology to reduce seed failure by 50 percent.
Authentic Business Initiatives
This company is developing an app that allows shoppers to book customized trips to their favourite retailers based on their preferences. It will be launching beta tests in the next few weeks.
Food For Thought Software Solutions
Melissa MacMaster, Shandra MacMaster
These sisters are developing software for schools to enable healthy food for all students. Their online platform assists in ordering and providing meals and connecting schools, government and parents.
Drastic Scholastic Thermoplastic
Maxwell Gauthier, Adam Starr
Gauthier and Starr are devising a better way to recycle plastics through community-based recycling. It will begin its initiative at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., then the founders want to expand to other institutions.
Nova Scotia Southwest
Remote Energy Systems
This team of Dalhousie University mechanical engineering grads is developing a new method of fixing solar cells to flexible material to provide power on sailing vessels. The founders are now prototyping the product.
The company uses software to simplify the calculations needed in complex construction projects. It hopes to hire two employees soon.
Auto Bait Bagger
Gary LeBlanc, Vince Stuart
The company is developing a device that automatically bags bait, preventing wastage and improving workplace safety in the fishing industry. It is already gaining traction.