Atlantic BioCorp Founder Dante Enewold plans to use the $25,000 he won in last week's Woodward Cup pitch competition to build a production facility for his process that converts crab shells into chitosan.

Held Wednesday by the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship in St. John’s, the Woodward Cup is named in honour of the late Newfoundland and Labrador logistics magnate Mel Woodward. The annual competition awards funding and in-kind services to Memorial University students who have launched startups during their academic programs.

The process that bagged Enewold the grand prize was inspired by his time spent working as a procurement officer in the fishing industry, where he saw large amounts of waste material accumulating from crab processing. Chitosan has applications in pharmaceuticals manufacturing, waste water treatment and as a food stabilizer, among other uses.

“Here were these piles of discards that everyone considered to be garbage, and I figured something could probably be done with it,” Enewold said in a Memorial University statement.

Just under a year after founding Atlantic BioCorp, Enewold has closed his first fundraising round, inked a deal with a supplier and is in talks with a potential customer in British Columbia.

The Woodward Cup’s runner-up, meanwhile, was a second oceantech startup. Invertable is the brainchild of cognitive and behavioural ecology PhD candidate Jessika Lamarre, who is developing an insect-based feed for aquaculture. She also won the $2,500 Fry Family Foundation Award for Women or Non-binary Leadership.

Most feed used in fish farms is made from wild-caught fish, whereas Lamarre’s is made from crickets and mealworms farmed using a specialized substrate.

“I had a hard time reconciling wanting to get the benefits from eating fish, but also contributing to the decline of wild fish populations that are already struggling,” she said. “The goal is essentially to continue benefitting from eating fish without having to harm wild stocks in the process.”

Lamarre plans to soon pursue regulatory approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as well as a patent.

A second award sponsored by St. John’s-educated philanthropists Darryl and Marlene Fry, the Fry Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for an Early Stage Idea, went to Tyler Yard, Ben Thomas and Carl Thibault for their augmented reality startup Tuckamore Technologies, which helps firefighters navigate environments with poor visibility.