News release

Spark North Winners Named in Startup Challenge

A new agri-food company in Bible Hill is receiving $50,000 in funding and business guidance through Innovacorp’s Spark Innovation Challenge. The business, Oceland Biologicals, is one of four winners selected in the Spark North region of the province.

Oceland Biologicals’ founder, Balakrishnan Prithiviraj, is developing microbial-based plant biostimulants that improve the growth, yield and resilience of crops in a sustainable manner.

“Participating in the Spark Innovation Challenge will help our business,” said Mr. Prithiviraj. “We will get closer to commercializing our microbial product because of the coaching we received through Spark and the funding that’s being awarded.”

The challenge expanded across the province this year, with winners in each of the four competition regions receiving up to $50,000 in funding and mentorship from seasoned business professionals. The four regions were Spark West, Spark North, Spark Halifax and Spark Cape Breton.

The first provincewide Spark Innovation Challenge attracted 136 submissions. Six finalists in the Spark North region pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Finalists also participated in several business workshops and were mentored by seasoned business professionals.

The other winners in the Spark North region are:

  • BioPolyOil, an agri-based technology company founded by Mostafa Aghaei, Alma Zangeneh and Arian Shahnazari of Bible Hill, $50,000
  • iCrowdX, a natural fruit-based drink company founded by Sean Sears of Antigonish, $50,000
  • BidSquid Online Marketplace, a company founded by David Hachey of Scotsburn, Pictou Co., $25,000

Winners must use the prize money to build prototypes or take new products and services to market.

Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency each contributed $400,000 towards this year’s Spark Challenge.

“Spark is a great program that’s helping new technology companies across Nova Scotia get started,” said Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business and Minister responsible for Innovacorp. “The winners of this year’s challenge will build stronger products and create jobs for other Nova Scotians, particularly young Nova Scotians.”

“Congratulations to all of the finalists in the first ever provincewide Spark competition,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA. “This competition has been an excellent showcase of talented entrepreneurs from across Nova Scotia whose spark of innovative ideas have real potential to be commercialized and grown into thriving businesses. I look forward to seeing how the winners advance their ventures and bring their ideas to fruition.”

For the full list of winners, visit <a HREF="HTTP://www.innovacorp.ca/news/spark-winners-2017"> www.innovacorp.ca/news/spark-winners-2017</A>.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

A new agri-food company in Bible Hill is receiving 50- thousand dollars in funding and business guidance through Innovacorp’s Spark Innovation Challenge.

The business, called Oceland Biologicals, is one of four winners selected in the Spark North region of the province.

The company is developing microbial-based plant biostimulants that improve the growth, yield and resilience of crops in a sustainable manner.

Business Minister Geoff MacLellan says Spark is a great program that’s helping new technology companies get started.

The first provincewide Spark competition attracted 136 submissions. Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency each contributed 400-thousand dollars.

For the full list of Spark winners visit Innovacorp.ca.

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Media Contacts:

Michaela Meltzer Gardner
Innovacorp 902-424-8674, Ext 1197 Cell: 902.499.2308 Email:
Marla MacInnis
Department of Business 902-499-6428 Email:
Alex Smith
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 902-426-9417 Cell: 902-830-3839 Email: