Three Ignite Labs startups win collective $100,000 from Spark Innovation Challenge

Spark Ignite

Nova Scotia innovation hub, Ignite Labs, has announced that three of its tenants, Blackwatch.tech, Green Oil Solutions, and Cultivated Ecosystems, have all won a cumulative $100,000 from the Spark Innovation Challenge.

“Ingite hopes to create a culture of innovation where we can help grow vibrant industries in rural Nova Scotia.”

The challenge, organized by the New Brunswick Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs, aims to support startups in rural communities throughout the province that often get overlooked by their city-resident counterparts. The competition provides early-stage startups with seed capital to help them prepare to take their offerings to market. Winners receive up to $50,000, as well as mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs.

“The Spark Innovation Challenge has shown what great opportunities lie in rural Nova Scotia and Ignite is honoured to be a resource for these entrepreneurs,” said Sebastian Green, Ignite Labs’ northern regional manager.

Green Oil Solutions is based in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The startup won third place and a $35,000 prize in the northern region, for its oil and fuel filtration technology. Its systems eliminate the need for companies to drain and refill their fuels, which would allow companies to reduce their environmental footprint.

Cultivated Eco Systems is a zero-waste ag-tech startup based in Pictou County. The company won second place and a $40,000 prize in the northern region for its soil probiotic. The probiotic stabilizes hostile soil conditions by removing smell and harmful bacteria, in order to increase crop yields and plant growth. The company was launched in September 2018.

“At Cultivated Eco Systems, we are proud to be a woman-run, zero waste, ag-tech company based in rural Pictou County,” said Angie VanKessel, co-founder of Cultivated Eco Systems. “Teaming up with Ignite and now being Spark winners has really helped us on our mission to bring our product across Canada and, eventually, the world.”

RELATED: Five startups in Volta’s new cohort each receive $25,000 investment

Blackwatch.tech has created a man overboard safety device built for fishing teams. The device recognizes when a user has fallen overboard and makes it faster for them to be found, by tracking the wearer’s location. The company is looking to install the device onto several lobster fishing boats this winter and the product is expected to be ready for pre-sale by May 2020. The company won third place and a $25,000 prize in the southern region of the challenge.

Ignite Labs’ said one-third of all shortlisted finalists were comprised of Ignite tenants. Startups in the IT, life sciences, cleantech, and ocean tech sectors are generally of key interest to the Spark Innovation Challenge, but the competition welcomes submissions from any vertical that has market potential.

Ignite Labs strives to be a launchpad for rural Nova Scotia startups, providing incubation, mentorship, business resources, and accelerator programming to companies from a variety of sectors. It opened its Pictou County location in October, and is among several innovation hubs in the Atlantic Canada region, such as Volta in Halifax, Venn Innovation in Moncton, Momentum in Sydney, and The Genesis Centre in St. John’s. 

“By supporting these startups, Ignite hopes to create a culture of innovation where we can help grow vibrant industries in rural Nova Scotia,” said Doug Jones, president and CEO of Ignite.

Image courtesy Ignite Labs

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast