The annual Spark Nova Scotia startup competition has awarded five-figure cash prizes to 10 startups, with a strong focus this year on medtech and cleantech innovation.

The 10 companies received a combined $375,000, with the top two bagging $50,000 each and the smallest prize being $10,000. Four of the 10 winners sell health-related products and three are involved in cleantech.

Now in its seventh year, the Spark program aims to nurture startups based outside of metro Halifax. Before the final pitch competition, entrants received several weeks of training on topics such as finance, risk management and pitching skills. The Nova Scotia Accociation of  Community Business Development Corporations (local groups that distribute funding to found or grow small businesses) is responsible for the program, which is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Sandra Goodwin, Founder of Nava Develop, which organized Spark Nova Scotia, said in an email, that several of the winning entrepreneurs are fascinating people as well as heading teams with great business ideas.

“In fact, the talented Ashley Hickey of Enzebra is a mom of toddlers who has been living with a disability," said Goodwin. "She embraces technology as something that eliminates barriers, and is passionate about eliminating other people’s barriers.”

Enzebra consolidates businesses' productivity software, such as customer relationship management software and accounting software.

Angie VanKessel, the co-founder of Merigomish-based soil enrichment startup Cultivated Eco Systems and a 2019 winner, also gave a speech during the awards ceremony this week offering advice to this year’s companies. She advised the victorious founders to be transparent about who they are and their values — “Don’t fake it ‘till you make it; just be yourself” — and to be cautious of potentially time-wasting networking.

She also said the winners should spend their prize money carefully and deliberately.

“We spent a lot of Spark’s money on equipment, and the equipment didn’t work,” she said. Instead, Cultivated Eco Systems has now resorted to building its own manufacturing equipment.

Here’s a look at this year’s winners:

Cape Breton

Reno Tree (Sydney Mines -- Kyle Matthews): $50,000

Reno Tree provides homeowners with special lending options, as well as a database of certified local contractors to help remove the stress from the home renovation process.

SGS Innova Solutions (Albert Bridge -- Robert Silverstein): $40,000

SGS Innova Solutions is developing products that help prevent and alleviate bedsores and related medical complications.

Energy-Absorbing Breakwater (Sydney Forks -- Mykola Kushnir): $35,000

Energy-Absorbing Breakwater is developing floating booms to capture wave energy and provide fresh water to shoreline communities.

Nova Scotia North

Liven Beverages (Antigonish -- Richard Grant and Donal Jewkes): $45,000

Liven has developed a single-serving beverage with 30 grams of protein and probiotics.

Enzebra (Amherst -- Ashley Hickey): $40,000

Enzebra consolidates businesses' productivity software, such as customer relationship management software and accounting software.

GeoHazard Integrity AI (Antigonish -- Kent Simpson): $40,000

GeoHazard uses machine learning to lower development costs and emissions for offshore wind projects.

Nova Scotia South West

Foodimprover (Wolfville -- Sean Myles): $50,000

Foodimprover develops novel apple varieties that don’t soften during storage and require less chemical input to grow.

MotionBed (Kentville -- Ken Leslie): $45,000

MotionBed adds lateral back-and-forth movement to existing beds to produce a therapeutic rocking movement while the occupant is sleeping.

Mycaro (Kentville -- Katherine McNeill): $20,000

Mycaro sells an environmentally friendly protein product produced by up-cycling apple waste via microbial fermentation.

The Tenderhood (Mahone Bay -- Moira Devereaux and Dave Thomson): $10,000

The Tenderhood matches small and medium-sized enterprises with tenders -- contracts that companies bid on -- that match their capabilities, as well as helping them access contacts and market intelligence.