BioNova Selects Eight Semi-Finalists to Participate in the 11th Annual BioInnovation Challenge

Posted: Aug 25, 2021

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#BIC2021–Eight early-stage health and life sciences companies from each of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces have been chosen as the 2021 BioInnovation Challenge (BIC) semi-finalists. Hosted by BioNova, the BioInnovation Challenge is one of the longest-running business competitions in Atlantic Canada, celebrating and propelling the region’s next top innovators. This year’s BIC will be held virtually during BioNova’s annual BioPort conference, Nov. 2-5, 2021.

Both a pitch competition and business accelerator, BIC has supported the creation of over 70 new companies in the sector and distributed $465,000 in prize value since 2011. Last year’s eight BIC semi-finalists raised over $1 million in 2020, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous participants of the competition include Swiftsure Innovations, Motryx, Picomole, ABK BioMedical, NovaResp Technologies, Coloursmith Labs, 3DBioFibr, MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies, and Chinova Bioworks.

“Each year, the BioInnovation Challenge introduces us to Atlantic Canada’s most innovative health and life sciences companies, providing them with invaluable connections, funding, and resources to kickstart their acceleration,” said Scott Moffitt, executive director of BioNova. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of our sector and why it’s critical that we support our brightest innovators in the early stages of their development, positioning them for continued success.”

The eight semi-finalists will present their business ideas on November 3rd to an experienced panel of judges who represent industry and investment organizations knowledgeable about health and life sciences. Three finalists will then be selected to pitch in the finals on November 5th, with a winner to be announced that afternoon at the closing of BioPort. This year’s winner will be awarded a grand prize valued at $55,000, comprised of $25,000 in seed funding to develop their business idea and an advisory services package exceeding $30,000.

Semi-finalists will receive significant training to be positioned for business growth and to successfully develop their pitches before the conference, including one-on-one sessions with expert pitch training coach Linda Plano. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, and serving clients around the world, Linda has worked with more than a thousand entrepreneurs who have gone on to raise over $1.3 billion.

These eight semi-finalists were selected from a group of high-caliber applicants developing medical technologies, bioproducts, and natural health products with a shared focus on better health outcomes and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the entrepreneurs who will be pitching virtually on Nov. 3 during BioPort 2021:

Au Naturel Solutions Inc. — PEI

Simone Cormier, Founder

Specializes in the manufacturing of an all-natural materials breast prosthesis made of sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials and an innovative attaching system which does not require purchase of a specialty bra.

Axtion Independence Mobility Inc. — NS

Tracey McGillivray, CEO; Liam Maaskant, CPO

Created a mobility device that combines a four-wheeled rollator walker with an elevating seat to prevent falls and enable independent recovery from a fall should one occur.

Bactana Canada Corp. — PEI

John Kallassy, CEO

Bactana Canada Corp. uses a microbiome discovery platform to develop innovative products through use of cutting-edge molecular and DNA sequencing methods to improve animal productivity and ultimately animal protein production. Their initial product is a patented feed additive for poultry and potentially swine.

MycoFutures North Atlantic — NL

Stephanie Lipp, Co-founder

MycoFutures North Atlantic is developing a highly-durable mycelium-based leather alternative using the root system of fungi. This product will reduce the environmental impact of apparel and footwear manufacturing.

Picketa Systems Inc. — NB

Dominic Levesque, Co-founder & CTO

Picketa Systems Inc. created a soil and plant scanning technology and software platform to log and manage user data to optimize crop fertilization.

Pivotal Health Sciences Inc. — NB

Craig Jackson, CEO

Uses sustainable extraction and encapsulation technologies without the use of high energy or chemical additives to reduce the number of steps required to transform raw feedstock to high-value nano encapsulated bioactives.

Remidose Aerosols Inc. — PEI

Dr. Michael Mayne, President

Manufactures medical grade devices that deliver accurate dosing of purified cannabis oil. Their three primary products are an inhaler, an oral spray, and a topical aerosol device, each of which enable rapid onset of premium bioactive cannabinoids to avoid over consumption.

Takaya Technology Inc. — NS

Erin MacKean, Co-founder & COO; Jennifer McFarland, Partner Development

Takaya Technology Inc. has developed a novel, medical grade N95 mask with advanced respirator seals to provide healthcare workers greater protection against COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens.

BIC 2021 is supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and sponsored by BioNB, Dalhousie University Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement (OCIE), Nova Scotia Health, and Emergence, with in-kind services provided by Cox and Palmer, Gallagher, Bereskin & Parr, Grant Thornton, and Jennifer Cameron PR.

About BioNova

BioNova leads, accelerates, and advocates for Nova Scotia’s growing Health and Life Sciences sector and is the host of the BioPort Conference and the BioInnovation Challenge (BIC). Since 1993, BioNova has been accelerating the growth of its member companies to commercialize life-changing research to improve healthcare, provide healthier food, and develop sustainable solutions. BioNova champions the sector’s cluster of world-class research facilities, incubator programs, and companies who, together, bring investment and jobs to Nova Scotia.

Our industry-led sector growth plan, BioFuture 2030, has made us the fastest growing sector in Atlantic Canada. We represent over 150 companies in Nova Scotia who raised over $75 million in investment dollars in 2020.

About BioPort

Since 2002, BioPort has provided a forum to inform and inspire the health and life sciences community to develop their ideas, commercialize their technologies and build links within the region, nationally and abroad.


BIC Judges

  • Jennifer Hamilton, PhD: Senior Director, New Ventures (Canada) and Advisor, Impact Investing, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact
  • Doris Grant, M.Sc: Senior Director, Innovation, Nova Scotia Health
  • Jennifer Chan, M.Sc.: Executive Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Merck Canada Inc

BIC Semi-Finals

The BIC semi-finals will take place virtually on Wednesday, November 3, 2-5 p.m. The general public is invited to attend the livestream of the semi-finals, free of charge. (The three finalists will be announced).


BIC Finals & Live Winner Announcement

The BIC finals will take place virtually on Friday, November 5, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. The top three BIC finalists will present their pitch again and BioPort attendees will be given the opportunity to vote alongside the judges for their top pick to win.

Our BIC 2021 winner will be announced during the closing remarks of BioPort on Friday, November 5, 3:30-4 p.m (A news release will be issued)

In order to watch the BIC Finals Pitch Competition and the announcement of our BIC 2021 winner, a paid, full-conference pass is required.



Shana Cristoferi

Marketing Manager, BioNova



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