Volta Labs on Wednesday night awarded $125,000 to five startups – including two from outside the Halifax area – in the second Volta Cohort pitching competition.

Backed by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, BDC Capital and Innovacorp, the Volta Cohort is an early-stage investment program designed to provide about 10 young companies a year with initial funding. The program awarded the full amount of $125,000 in its first pitching competition in November, and handed out the same amount Wednesday.

Some 48 companies applied for the second Volta Cohort and 16 of them pitched.The winners included Sydney's Talem Health Analytics and UAV Control Tower of St. John's, showing that the Volta Cohort program is extending its reach beyond Halifax. 

“The quality of applicants to this program is very high,” said Volta CEO Jesse Rodgers in a statement. “Selecting only five of the pitching companies was tough given each founder’s potential. Together with our partners, we look forward to helping these early-stage companies grow and succeed from their home base in Atlantic Canada.”

The five winners are:

Talem Health Analytics, Sydney – Talem uses machine learning and data analysis to predict how someone who has been in an accident will recover. Drawing on data from physiotherapy clinics, it can help insurers assess how the patient will rehab. CEO Paul Travis said it can save as much as 10 to 20 percent on the cost of each claim.

Grey Lit, Halifax – Founded by Cora Cola, Grey Lit has developed a platform that provides researchers with a targeted audience for research that has not yet been reviewed by peers. Only 10 percent of scientific research ends up in peer-reviewed academic journals, and Grey Lit helps the other 90 percent progress into the development of useful products.

ColourSmith Labs, Halifax – This company is creating North America’s first direct-to-consumer contact lenses that restore a full spectrum of colour in red-green colour blind people. Founder Gabrielle Masone has self-funded the project so far and is now in the process of raising $100,000 to accelerate research and development.

UAV Control Tower, St. John’s – The team of experienced commercial drone operators has developed a drone-monitoring system used by air traffic controllers to approve, manage and record drone flights. CEO Duncan Wallace said the digital product will disrupt a cumbersome paper-based process now in use.

Speakr, Halifax – Headed by Lee Babin, Speakr is developing digital tools that help people improve their public speaking. Its software can analyze data on such facets as the speaker’s voice, facial expressions and body language and make constructive feedback.

Before the pitching began, Halifax MP Andy Fillmore announced the government would provide Volta with $200,000 through ACOA to more fully develop the Volta Cohort program. This will include hiring a full-time program manager as well as the costs of events, meetings and outreach.