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Cape Breton Company Benefits From University Expertise

A Cape Breton tech company is developing a better way to monitor toxins in water, air and soil with help from Cape Breton University.

“We don’t have sophisticated instruments,” said Krishnat Naikwadi, founder of J&K Scientific Inc. of Edwardsville, in a recent interview.
“We needed help from the university.”

Founded in 2005, J&K Scien-tific makes gas chromatography columns —long, thin, hollow copper tubes lined with fused silica — to identify and quantify chemical molecules by determining the time it takes them to pass through the tube.
The columns can conduct a chemical analysis of a water sample in as little as six minutes.

J&K’s technology was used to analyze water samples following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s products are also used by Environment Canada, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Naikwadi said.
“They’re used all over the world.”

J&K is developing related technology that will provide even better analytical results with help from a provincial productivity and innovation voucher program. It allows qualifying companies to utilize the expertise of Nova Scotia’s universities and colleges.
J&K, which had already received a Tier 1 voucher, or credit note, worth $15,000, was recently awarded a $25,000 Tier 2 voucher.

Naikwadi, a chemist who formerly taught at Cape Breton University, said the Tier 2 voucher gave the company access to university equipment to test its technology.
“For a small company, this is a great thing, to get expertise from the university to develop products,” he said, noting that J&K only has three employees.

Naikwadi said if the technol-ogy proves successful, the company will develop a prototype and ultimately manufacture and market it.
“There’s a billion-dollar market to tap into.”

Naikwadi said he hopes to have a prototype developed within two years, with the university’s help.
Dale Keefe, dean of research and graduate studies at Cape Breton University, said collaborations between the school and business benefit everyone involved.

“Developing meaningful research and development projects with industry is important to CBU and our researchers,” Keefe said in a recent email.
“We welcome collaborations that extend faculty expertise and laboratory resources to external R&D projects.”

Keefe said companies such as J&K Scientific offer an exceptional opportunity for faculty to involve students in industrial research.
“The opportunity to apply classroom learning to the R&D questions of companies strengthens the student’s skill set and can provide an excellent opportunity for these businesses to evaluate new employees.”

J&K Scientific was a zone winner in provincial Crown corporation Innovacorp’s I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition for 2011-12. The company’s $100,000 award included $70,000 in cash and $30,000 in in-kind access to a variety of business services.

The competition is designed to support high-potential early-stage knowledge-based companies in Nova Scotia.