Province helping start-ups find opportunities from COVID-19

HALIFAX: The provincial government announced it is investing $750,000 to help start-up businesses seize opportunities emerging from COVID-19.

Business incubators Volta, Ignite and the Organization for Nova Scotia Innovation-Driven Enterprise (ONSIDE) will receive funding to help new businesses get off the ground. Funding through Innovacorp will support start-up activities in Cape Breton.

“COVID-19 has had a big impact on existing industry and startups,” said Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business. “As the province focuses on economic recovery, new startups and innovation-driven entrepreneurs will play an important role in restarting the economy. This investment will help drive the creation of new businesses and support innovative solutions as we adjust to the post-COVID reality.”

Business incubators help start-up companies through a variety of support services, including physical space, access to technology, coaching, shared services and networking. Volta, Ignite and ONSIDE will also provide programs and supports focused on issues and challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Focusing on innovation is a critical part of the recovery process for businesses,” Martha Casey, interim CEO and chief operating officer, Volta said. “That is why this grant is so valuable to Volta and the startup ecosystem as we shift our programming to expedite the recovery process. The Nova Scotia government has demonstrated leadership during these unprecedented times and we thank them for their generosity and support on behalf of startup founders.”

The funding agreements are for one year, ending June 2021.

The funding includes $500,000 for Volta to shift program offerings to help start-ups as Nova Scotia begins to re-open following COVID-19, and expand the reach of its events and programming.

It also includes $100,000 for Ignite to develop a virtual delivery model, create a personal protective equipment (PPE) portal to connect industry to the local PPE supply chain, design training opportunities for displaced workers, and deliver virtual training sessions and mentorship for startups to establish online and global strategies.

“COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on the start-up ecosystem in Nova Scotia and has also had a huge impact on existing industry,” said Doug Jones, president and CEO, Ignite Labs. “The goal of the Reignite program is to help stimulate new start-up companies with displaced workers, help reposition and grow our existing start-ups, and help our local industries adapt through innovation and access to protective equipment for their labour force.”

 Under the funding, Innovacorp will received $100,000 for start-up activities in Cape Breton, including an entrepreneur in residence, acceleration programs, training opportunities, a makerspace, mentorship and networking events.

“The quality and determination of Cape Breton entrepreneurs is exactly what we look for in the companies Innovacorp supports,” Malcolm Fraser, president and CEO, Innovacorp noted. “We’re excited to continue our commitment to the startup founders building world-class businesses from this region.”

And finally, there will be $50,000 for ONSIDE to partner with others to provide organizational resilience training to early-stage companies and develop two investment education programs for early-stage investors.

“We believe startups will play a vital role in the recovery of our economy post COVID-19,” noted Alex McCann, executive director, ONSIDE. “That is why we are working with them to build their resilience and ability to adapt and thrive during these rapidly evolving times. Providing investment education will expand our investment base and create more opportunities for start-ups to receive the funding they need to continue to grow.”