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The Springboard Effect

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The significance of Springboard Atlantic’s network is evident at all stages of the commercialization process. Our team is committed to working with both researchers and industry to forge strategic relationships that have a lasting economic impact. For this quarterly newsletter, we’re highlighting three stories from our members that showcase the effect of the Springboard network within the Atlantic Canadian ecosystem. Each company is at a different point in its commercialization timeline but all recognize the value of the Springboard network as a crucial stepping stone in propelling its growth and development.

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In March, The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation hosted its biennial Breakthru startup competition. This year’s top winner, Canum Nanomaterials, took home prizes valued at $446,000 as well as the CBC Viewer’s Choice Award, which gives the team the opportunity to pitch their business on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.

It's an exciting win for the company but it’s also a great achievement for the University of New Brunswick as the venture started as a research project in UNB’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

“In early 2019, Dr. Felipe Chibante from the Department of Chemical Engineering disclosed a technology entitled “Scalable Large Volume Plasma for Fullerene Synthesis” to UNB’s Office of Research Services (ORS),” said Hart Devitt, UNB’s Director of Industry and Government Services.  

The technology, which will be commercialized by Canum Nanomaterials, presents a faster, cost-effective way of making fullerenes.

Fullerenes are nanoparticles made up carbon atoms organized in a spherical structure.  These are very strong structures and therefore have a wide range of commercial applications, including in healthcare and solar energy.

One example of the benefits of using fullerenes is solar energy. The advantage of using the organic material is you can make flexible solar cells and the fullerenes allow electrons to travel further within its own structure, which is something that other organic materials do not allow. By being able to travel further, it allows the electricity to be transferred better and smoother.

Canum is currently developing a process to construct fullerenes faster and cheaper for markets, like solar energy.

“UNB and Canum are currently setting up a collaborative project under which UNB will provide access to materials and equipment that will enable Canum to further enhance and improve the technology,” according to Devitt.  

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When Halifax entrepreneur, Gabrielle Masone, decided to invent the world’s first colour blindness correcting contact lens, she knew she couldn’t do it alone.

So Masone, the CEO of Coloursmith Labs, turned to the expertise of three Nova Scotian universities to develop this groundbreaking lens.  

“Working with Saint Mary’s, St.FX and Dalhousie was one of the smartest moves Coloursmith has made to date,” said Masone. “They offer access to a talent pool of smart, driven and skilled people with unique and exciting ideas for our product and business that keeps us consistently on our toes.”

By working with our member institutions, in close partnership with Dr. Danielle Tokarz at SMU, Coloursmith has proven its scientific concept and is very close to completing its first prototype.

“This is a great example of a company having an assortment of research questions, and by working with several Springboard members Gabrielle was able to find the skills and knowledge her team needed,” said Kevin Buchan, the Director of SMU’s Office of Innovation and Community Engagement.

Because of the stellar research backing her product, Masone has raised thousands of dollars in funding, taking home top prizes in competitions such as the Volta Cohort pitch competition and Innovacorp’s Spark Innovation Challenge. 

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Canada’s Smartest Kitchen (CSK), a Technology Access Centre located at Holland College’s Tourism and Culinary Centre, combines culinary creativity, food science, and marketing insights to bring innovative food product ideas to life.

When Royal Star Foods was creating a new “Lobster Concentrate” ingredient from the underutilized lobster bodies and shells to add to its line of products in 2013, they looked to Canada’s Smartest Kitchen to help them identify how this product could be used by both food manufacturers and restaurant operators.

Food product developers at Canada’s Smartest Kitchen tested the ingredient in a variety of food applications and identified many valuable uses for the product. Building on existing sales channels, Royal Star was able to sell Lobster Concentrate to operators across Canada and exports the product to China.

CSK has continued its development work with Royal Star since that time and is currently supporting the commercialization of a finished product using the lobster concentrate as an ingredient that has opportunities for sales in both retail and restaurants.

“Adding value to underused products helps companies be both more financially and environmentally sustainable,” explains Shawn MacDougall, Manager of Applied Research at Holland College, “This is a very valuable service that CSK provides small to medium-sized companies who do not have the time or capacity to do so internally.”

Canada’s Smartest Kitchen (Holland College) has been integral in supporting the access of funding, showcasing the product at tradeshows around the globe, and looks forward to continuing the development work to determine further uses for the ingredient.