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NS Companies Using Vouchers To Work With Acadia

Acadia University researchers will be working with seven Annapolis Valley-based businesses through the Province of Nova Scotia’s Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program. The program is intended to help small business get their product or service closer to or directly to market and the total value of the Acadia projects is $115,000.

“The voucher program is a tremendous incentive to small, local business and Acadia researchers to collaborate on products or services with true market potential,” said Dr. David MacKinnon, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at Acadia. “We have enjoyed a close and successful working relationship with a number of well-known Valley businesses over time. The voucher program makes Acadia more accessible to entrepreneurs and creates some wonderful research opportunities. Through individual researchers, our schools and academic departments, coupled with our Office of Industry and Community Engagement   and the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre, we believe we can make a substantial contribution to improving the health and diversity of the Valley economy, and I want to congratulate each of our successful applicants.”

The local businesses with which Acadia will partner are:

Sustainable Blue is a land-based aquaculture company in Centre Burlington that is raising both exotic and native species of fish. Biology professor Dr. Brian Wilson is working with them on developing quantitative methods of monitoring fish well-being, to be used in support of the company’s pro-active approach to advancing fish husbandry techniques.

Meander River Farm is a diversified farm business located in Ashdale that has been growing hops for the past 4 years.  The company will work with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre – Innovation and Incubation Services, and Acadia’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics, to engage in product development testing, nutritional analysis, labelling, and packaging, on a number of innovative hop products.

Farm Girl Preserves is a new, home-based business in Sheffield Mills producing a line of unique preserve products, such as Chipotle Beet Relish, Pumpkin Pickles, and Mustard Rings & Strings. In an effort to take advantage of larger wholesale opportunities, the company will work with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre – Innovation and Incubation Services to undertake scale up trials, shelf-life testing and nutritional analysis; to establish a traceability program; and look at different production options.

For the past 4 years, Spicy Cravings – Authentic Indian Cuisine has been manufacturing a small line of gourmet ethnic foods in the Truro area. Their products are produced with quality, natural ingredients with no preservatives, using traditional authentic recipes. The company will work with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre – Innovation and Incubation Services, and Acadia’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics (Matt McSweeney) to develop maximum nutritional foods and novel healthy product lines that will help grow the company.

TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture is based in Bible Hill.  Started in 2011, they have developed Smart Plant Systems that integrates innovations in agricultural lighting systems with hydroponics and climate controlled technologies to produce fresh greens year round. Looking to significantly grow the company in the coming years, TruLeaf has partnered with Acadia’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics to undertake a comprehensive sensory analysis of some of their unique product line. ◦Frostbyte Interactive is a new Wolfville-based, tech company that is developing and offering a variety of comprehensive, IT-related products and services – IT consulting, software development, project facilitation, and media management. They are also a company with a social conscience – they approach technological innovation from a sociocultural context and have a deep commitment to sustainable growth. The company has developed a unique institutional software system that they are interested in commercializing which addresses burgeoning demand on Student Resource Centres. They will work with Dr. Darcy Benoit (Computer Science) who has a strong background in both database architecture and mobile computing, on product design, value-added development, and testing.

Pie R Squared is a Wolfville-based, home business that worked with Acadia in 2012/13 through a Tier I Productivity & Innovation Voucher project. With a mission to grow healthy communities and support local businesses, the company has focused on providing convenient and nutritious savoury pies and quiches, distributing through local Farmers’ Markets. The Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre – Innovation and Incubation Services and Acadia’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics will assist them in the next steps of growing their business.

“Being located on campus gives Frostybyte easy access to the deep pool of talented students and faculty researchers at Acadia,” says John Frost, Frostbytes’s President. “We believe this means we can be more nimble and responsive to our clients than many other firms in our competitive space. We can also connect with other businesses that might benefit from our technology or offer us new opportunities we hadn’t considered. The voucher program will allow us to see just how far we can take our business model.”

In the previous two years of the Program, Acadia partnered with fifteen different companies who were awarded $295,000 through the Voucher Program. It’s a proven model that provides small businesses with the support they need to break into or expand their markets. The success of Pie R Squared is an example of how a small business, through the professional support available from the voucher program, can build a significant business from its small town base and position itself for growth in short period of time.For businesses wishing to explore research opportunities, there are two ways to connect with Acadia. The first is through Acadia’s Office of Industry and Community Engagement (ICE) http://ice.acadiau.ca/ which serves as the University’s primary point of contact for industry, government, and community groups interested in research, commercialization and outreach activities. The second is through the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre – Innovation and Incubation Services where space and support is available on campus to entrepreneurs who want to launch their business using the capacity of Acadia’s students and faculty. More information about Innovation and Incubation Services is available at www.acadiaentrepreneurshipcentre.com.