Halifax – Innovacorp  today announced the first and second place award winners in the provincial I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition, an innovative competition to identify and support high potential Nova Scotia knowledge-based businesses.
“The start-up businesses chosen as first and second place award winners are excellent examples of the types of high potential Nova Scotia companies that have the opportunity to compete globally,” said Dan MacDonald, president and CEO of Innovacorp.“The I-3 finalists are all targeting high growth industry sectors, including clean technology, life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”
The first and second place zone winners each receive $100,000 and $40,000 respectively in a combination of cash and in-kind business building services from professional services firms located in their zones to be used for the further development of their start-up ventures. The first place winners will move on to the provincial round happening February 9, to compete for a $100,000 seed investment from Innovacorp.
The first and second place award winners in each zone are:
Zone 1 (Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties)
1st Place – LST Energy – Jim Trussler, Gus Swanson and Philip Landry – Pictou – has developed an innovative patented technology that will enable efficient burning of grass and hay biomass pellets. While grass and hay biomass is plentiful and renewable, until this innovation it has been impractical to use as a fuel because it caused furnace and stove maintenance issues that required continuous intervention. LST Energy will first target commercial heating applications.
2nd Place – X-Flux Environmental Technologies – David Risk – Antigonish – has developed an innovative system for real-time monitoring of carbon dioxide emissions from underground carbon capture and storage facilities. The patented technology enables a network of ground level CO2 monitoring probes, network management and validation of carbon storage for public safety and containment integrity. X-Flux is positioned to enter the global market and will begin pilot installations in 2010.
1st Place – Xona Games  – Matthew and Jason Doucette – Yarmouth – is an independent game development studio targeting Xbox 360 and PC gaming platforms. The company concentrates on intensifying retro-style games and has already gained international recognition, placing 7th in the world and 2nd in Canada in Microsoft’s 2009 Dream Build Play competition. Xona’s game Decimation X is the number one rated Xbox LIVE Indie Game in Japan.
2nd Place – Ocean Leader Fisheries Ltd. – Milton LeBlanc and Bruce LeBlanc – Lower Wedgeport – is developing an anti-inflammatory sea cucumber extract for the companion pet market. As a primary processor of sea cucumber, the company has direct access to the material used in the development of this safe and healthy nutraceutical extract. Ocean Leader plans to begin production in 2010.
Zone 3 (Digby, Annapolis, Kings and Hants counties)
1st Place – Clare Machine Works Ltd. – Vince Stuart – Meteghan Centre – has developed an innovative patent pending system for refurbishing high value oil and gas industry drill pipes. The oil and gas industry spends millions of dollars per year refurbishing drill pipes, which are inspected regularly and must meet strict specifications. Clare Machine Works’ mobile system refurbishes pipes on-site, eliminating the complicated logistics and expense of shipping pipes off-site to be refurbished.
2nd Place – Fireworks FX Inc./Solar Flare Inc. – Fred Wade – Grand Pre – has developed an electric ignition system for sophisticated fireworks displays that solves serious safety issues and dramatically improves productivity. Unlike the traditional “match head fuse” ignition system, which has been linked to high profile fireworks accidents, must be connected on the display site, and is very dangerous to disconnect in cases where the show must be cancelled, the Solar Flare ignition system can be safely connected and transported days before a fireworks event, and can be safely packed up in the case of a cancelled event.
Zone 4 (Halifax Regional Municipality)
1st Place: Tether— Tim Burke and Stephen Hankinson, Halifax – has developed a simple and inexpensive way for laptop users to connect to the internet through smartphones, including the BlackBerry. For users who do not have free wired or WiFi access, but need to connect their laptops to the internet in an airport or a taxi, for example, Tether enables users to quickly connect through their smartphones, for a one-time fee, without incurring any additional charges. Tether has attracted worldwide media attention, including coverage in The New York Times, and has already been sold to thousands of users.
2nd Place: Carbon Sense Solutions Inc.— Robert Niven, Halifax – is developing technology that has the potential to dramatically reduce the energy used to cure precast concrete products and greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing the output of precast concrete production. The company is currently working with an industry partner to prove the technology at an industrial scale.
Zone 5 (Victoria, Cape Breton, Inverness and Richmond counties)
1st Place: Health Tech Outcomes – Corrine McIsaac – New Waterford – is developing ehealth solutions and related professional services designed to significantly improve chronic disease patient care and cost outcomes. Health Tech Outcomes will first target health care organizations, health authorities, and long-term care providers across Canada.
2nd Place: Billdidit Inc. – Joe Menchefski, Sydney, and Bill Coady – Port Hawkesbury – is developing a product line of music industry accessories, including the innovative and patented Coady Clutch, the world’s first passive hi-hat drop clutch that allows drummers to engage and disengage their hi-hat cymbals during live performances.
The winners in each zone were selected through three rounds of competition by a panel of private sector judges. In the third round of judging, the finalists presented oral pitches of their start-up businesses to the judges. Finalists were evaluated based on business plan credibility, management experience, high barrier to competitive entry, large addressable market, and the probability of obtaining a fully funded business plan. Ultimately, the winners were determined by the judges to have the highest probability of entering the market in a competitively sustainable fashion and having the most commercialization potential.
Innovacorp ran a pilot I-3 competition in Cape Breton in 2006 and its first provincial competition in 2007-2008, and is currently concluding its second provincial competition. In less than four years, the competition has received a remarkable 270 start-up company submissions, reflecting the increasingly high level of entrepreneurship happening across Nova Scotia.