A quartet of startups delivered pitches of about half an hour each to an audience of investors and ecosystem members Thursday night in Halifax at an investment club event hosted by SUMS Capital, a platform for early-stage companies to communicate with their financial backers.

Co-founded by life sciences industry veterans Peter Hickey, Neil Smith and Kent MacLean, SUMS has developed a platform that lets private investors track their portfolios and receive updates from companies, including accessing up-to-date financial data.

Held at the Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub, the event included pitches from edtech app ScanSolve, along with three health-related companies -- SoundBlade, Aruna Revolution and Ring Rescue. All four companies are raising money.

Here’s some of what they had to say:


Collins Chukwuma

St. John’s

Chukwuma was inspired to found ScanSolve while he was a student at Memorial University, where he struggled to access tutoring services quickly enough for them to be useful. Instead of relying on human tutors for assistance with test preparation, ScanSolve lets users scan a prompt or question, such as a math equation, to receive AI-generated help.

The app uses a basket of AI tools, including those from market leader OpenAI, and tailors its advice depending upon a student’s language and location, so as to fit with local curriculums. The manner in which the content is delivered also becomes tailored to the user’s learning preferences over time.

Founded less than a year ago, ScanSolve is already bringing in about $400,000 of annual recurring revenue from in-app subscriptions and advertisements. It is also the seventh most downloaded education app on Google

“I set out to build an app that users can use to scan a question in any topic, not just mathematics, and get a step-by-step solution or explanation from trusted sources,” said Chukwuma.

SoundBlade Medical


Jeremy Brown

SoundBlade is developing a surgical technique to use sonic energy to cut tissue, which has applications including a surgery to treat sleep apnea.

Chief Executive Jeremy Brown is also co-founder of ultrasound technology startup Daxsonics, and the two companies share imaging technology. SoundBlade’s offering combines that tech with a device that uses a highly focused ultrasound beam to form “cavitation bubbles” in tissue, eventually liquefying it.

Fat tissue liquefies faster than muscle and other denser tissues, so while more testing needs to be conducted, Brown said he hopes it will be possible to find a frequency of ultrasound radiation capable of dissolving fat while leaving muscle intact.

Such an ability would open up a range of potential applications, including a less invasive form of a currently risky surgery to remove fat from the tongue of a sleep apnea sufferer and improve their breathing, which Brown hopes will be SoundBlade’s beachhead market.

“We’re putting enough negative pressure to convert the tissue to bubbles, like gas, but when it goes back to solid tissue it turns into fragments — collapses,” said Brown.

Aruna Revolution


Lanna Last and Rashmi Prakash

Aruna is developing biodegradable menstrual pads in an effort to divert the plastic waste generated by conventional disposable products.

One problem with menstrual products (even those marketed as being environmentally friendly) is they are either made from recycled materials, but are not biodegradable, or they are made from bioplastics that technically degrade, but not in landfill or industrial conditions, Aruna co-founder Rashmi Prakash said.

Her company’s pads, in contrast, are made of cellulose from sources such as farm waste. She added that the cellulose sources are chosen based on their material characteristics, rather than favouring material only from specific sources, but the canola industry has been a promising partner.

Prakash, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Biomedical Engineering, launched Aruna in 2020 with fellow UBC graduate Lanna Last.

The duo plan to initially target business-to-business and online sales, with brick-and-mortar retailers to come later. They are also pursuing an industrial certification attesting to their product’s compostability.

“What’s unique about what we’re doing is our fibre extraction process,” said Prakash. “We’re able to extract fibres from virtually any type of material that is plant-based.

“We’re able to turn them into clean and soft fibres … and instead of waiting 500-plus years for these products to decompose, we’re able to compost them within just 30 days.”

Ring Rescue


Patrick Hennessey and Dr. Kevin Spencer

Founded by an engineer and a Dartmouth emergency room doctor, Ring Rescue makes two devices for removing stuck rings from patients’ fingers, which is a problem that can otherwise lead to destroyed jewelry, tissue damage, and in some cases, even the need for a person’s finger to be amputated.

The company’s first offering uses air pressure to shrink the swelling in a patient’s finger, allowing stuck rings to slide off with the aid of a water-soluble lubricant. Its second, meanwhile, aims to remove rings that are more severely lodged in place by cutting them with the help of a computer system that reduces the risk of accidentally cutting the patient.

Co-founders Patrick Hennessey and Dr. Kevin Spencer commercialized their first device in 2019, initially focusing on selling to emergency rooms and later adding fire departments and other first responders to their target market.