Cape Breton grows ecosystem of innovative, environmentally sustainable companies

News release

The Verschuren Centre and four companies receive federal support to further develop and commercialize products, support the growing network of biotechnology firms

April 8, 2021 · Sydney, Nova Scotia · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

In Cape Breton, a cluster of biotechnology companies are working with ACOA, Innovacorp and the Verschuren Centre to find solutions to some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges. These companies will help diversify and grow Cape Breton’s economy - creating skilled jobs, attracting talent and increasing investment in the area. 

Federal government invests in regional sector growth

Today, Mike Kelloway, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, and Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, announced a total of $2,214,302 to support the growth of the emerging biotechnology sector in Cape Breton. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.  

The funding is being provided to Reazent Inc., Alter Biota Inc., Phycus Biotechnologies Inc., Kraken Sense and the Verschuren Centre. These companies are conducting research, development and commercialization activities for innovative technologies to produce more environmentally-friendly products and high quality food. Additional information on the projects is given in the related backgrounder.

Today’s announcement further demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to help Canadian businesses develop sustainable solutions and bring new products to market. Funding for strategic projects like these ones will help the region seize new opportunities to build a stronger, greener economy in communities throughout Atlantic Canada.


"The Verschuren Centre has seen so much growth since it’s opening in 2009. Its focus on moving traditional industries towards a value-added, sustainable approach based on science has attracted many in the science sector to Cape Breton Island and has helped to diversify our local economy. Investments in sustainable science will have lasting impacts on our community, support the growing biotechnology cluster, create well-paying jobs and attract national and international companies to work hand in hand with the Verschuren Centre.”
Mike Kelloway, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton - Canso, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA

“The specialized equipment and expertise at the Verschuren Centre are attracting companies that recognize the unique opportunity to develop and test their products there. The Government of Canada is pleased to invest in this growing knowledge hub that is working to find green alternatives to chemical products and improve food quality.”
- Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria

“The companies working with the Verschuren Centre and Innovacorp are developing technologies that will help Nova Scotia become a leader in addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges – climate change and food sustainability. Over the past year, Innovacorp and the Verschuren Centre have been creating a world-class destination for companies in the industrial biotech and agtech sectors right here in our province. These companies are creating good jobs and growing our economy. We look forward to building on this momentum.”
- Labi Kousoulis, Nova Scotia Minister Inclusive Economic Growth

“This funding will greatly help us bring our disruptive technology to the North American market faster. It has come at a very opportune time when we are rolling out extensive trials in North America and scaling up our technology from bench to pilot."
- Sumit Verma, CEO, Reazent Inc. Organization

“Concrete is the most consumed building material on the planet and the most carbon intensive. Alter Biota’s performance enhancing bio-graphene based admixtures offer a low carbon solution to support the economic and environmental sustainability of this important industry.”
- Mark Masotti, CEO, Alter Biota Inc.

“Phycus has developed an innovative platform for producing bio-based glycolic acid.  Our technology offers a sustainable supply compared to the current market alternatives for glycolic acid, which is made from petrochemicals. This support has enabled us to expand our operations in Sydney and increase our production capabilities to meet the market demand for our product.”
- Vik Pandit, CEO, Phycus Biotechnologies Inc. Organization

“Kraken Sense is focused on improving food safety and eliminating food waste through our real-time pathogen detection system. We are excited to expand our research and development in bacteria detection with the support from the Verschuren Centre and the Government of Nova Scotia.”
- Nisha Sarveswaran, CEO, Kraken Sense

“The Verschuren Centre assets and service model, combined with the investment and support of our federal partners, provide a perfect scale-up environment for some of the most cutting edge new technologies in the clean tech and bio-economy space in Canada. These companies draw top talent and investment to our province.
- Beth Mason, CEO, The Verschuren Centre 

Quick facts

  • Reazent Inc. creates sustainable alternatives to replace petroleum-derived chemicals in agriculture and industry. The company completed the Indie Bio accelerator in 2020, one of the world's leading science accelerators.

  • Alter Biota is developing green solutions to improve concrete performance, allowing producers to reduce their products’ cost and carbon footprint while improving mechanical performance. 

  • Phycus Biotechnologies Inc. develops naturally-derived, plant-based ingredients for cosmetics to address a growing demand for natural products.

  • Kraken Sense develops devices that test food and beverage products for bacteria to prevent recalls and manages food quality along the production and distribution chain. The company's product delivers results in real-time, making it faster and more effective at mitigating health and economic impacts. In October 2020, the company was a winner at the Indie Bio accelerator.

  • The Verschuren Centre is a registered not-for-profit research, development and demonstration facility providing contracted services to industry and community in the areas of bio-processing, marine processing, carbon transformation, bioplastics, energy storage and sustainable resource use.

  • The Verschuren Centre works closely with Innovacorp, which was instrumental in attracting the four start-ups to Nova Scotia and has supported their growth through funding, business expertise, and access to investors, strategic partners, customers and research collaborators.

  • Funding for these projects is provided through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.

Related products

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic
Development and Official Languages

Chris Brooks
Communications Director, Nova Scotia
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Gary Andrea
Nova Scotia Department of Inclusive Economic Growth

Mark Masoti
Alter Biotta

Sumit Verma
Reazent Inc.

Beth Mason
Verschuren Centre

Vik Pandit
Phycus Biotechnologies Inc.

Nisha Sarveswaran
Kraken Sense

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