ACOA supports clean tech growth in Cape Breton

News release

From left to right, people working in a research lab; polymer coated seeds pictured in their containers; a woman working at a lab bench

Innovation at the heart of solutions to environmental challenges, expanding clean economy

September 5, 2023 · Sydney, Nova Scotia · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Innovative clean tech companies operating out of the Verschuren Centre in Cape Breton are helping advance strong, sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest environmental challenges. That is why the Government of Canada is committed to supporting clean technologies which help diversify economies, create jobs and shape a stronger future for Canadians.

Federal government supports Verschuren Centre, Cotex Technologies and Dispersa

Today, the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA, announced contributions totalling $2 million to the Verschuren Centre, Cotex Technologies and Dispersa. Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton–Canso, and Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, also took part in the announcement.

The projects include an additional non-repayable investment of $1 million to the Verschuren Centre through the Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI) – Infrastructure Fund, which will help the research centre expand its highly specialized industrial bioprocessing facility and increase its bioreactor capacity by fifteen times. The increased ability will help more clean tech companies develop new sustainable technologies, raise investment in the region, and create clean tech jobs. The funding announced today further supports ACOA’s initial investment to the project in 2022.   

Also announced were two repayable $500,000 contributions through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) – Business Scale-up and Productivity program.

Cotex Technologies is preparing to begin production and field trials of its biodegradable polymer coating for controlled-release fertilizer in a 2,000-square foot facility in North Sydney. The building will house research and development units for commercial-scale coating and will have enough production capacity to serve markets in North America and Europe. The company’s innovative technology reduces greenhouse gases and pollution caused by conventional fertilizers and is formulated to deliver precise nutrients to specific crops.

Dispersa, a Montreal-based clean tech startup, is expanding to the Verschuren Centre to scale-up production of PuraSurf, its first biosurfactant product which will be made using microbes from food waste. The company intends to divert food waste and reduce pollution, as well as the reliance on fossil fuels, through the creation of biodegradable products that are economical and versatile for use across numerous industries. 


“Cape Breton, through the Verschuren Centre, continues to attract innovative companies and skilled workers who are inventing and manufacturing clean tech products that will have a real impact on meeting Canada’s net-zero targets. The Government of Canada is proud to support these cutting-edge advances, which contribute to a better, more sustainable future for all Canadians.”
- The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“It’s no accident that some of the world’s brightest minds are anxious to work with the Verschuren Centre to create solutions for some of the world’s most challenging environmental issues. It has fostered the conditions necessary for the creativity, innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking necessary to make strides in addressing climate change, reduction of greenhouse gases, and commercializing innovative technologies to create a more economically and environmentally sustainable future for Atlantic Canada.”
- Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minster of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria

“Clean tech startups from across the world are seeking to work with the Verschuren Centre in Cape Breton to develop game-changing technologies that deliver impactful environmental benefits. Strategic investments like the one announced today will help reduce our carbon footprint, increase access to domestic and international markets, and position Cape Breton for continued economic growth.”
- Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton – Canso 

 “The Verschuren Centre is thrilled to continue this expansion of large-scale precision fermentation capacity greatly needed for the region and nationally. This facility enables scaling of these and many more technologies into the marketplace to positively impact sustainable development goals for companies, institutions and consumers. Impacts from investment in these technologies touch our lives in almost every sector from preventative health, through smart materials and into food and agriculture.”
- Dr. Beth Mason, President and CEO, Verschuren Centre 

“We are very fortunate and grateful to the Verschuren Centre in Cape Breton for helping Cotex set up a business in Nova Scotia. With the help of their team, we’ve been able to grow and have now expanded testing of Cotex products on field sites across Nova Scotia.”
- Krilen Ramanaidu, Chief Products Officer, Cotex Technologies

“Scaling up production is a crucial phase towards commercialization for industrial biotechnology startups like Dispersa. We are thrilled to be working with the Verschuren Centre to soon bring our waste-derived biosurfactants to market. We are grateful to be working with such a talented and passionate team that continually supports us in bringing our vision to reality. This long-term partnership represents the steppingstone of Dispersa’s growing presence in Cape Breton and we are excited to continue building our operations across Nova Scotia in the years to come.”
- Nivatha Balendra, Founder and CEO, Dispersa

Quick facts

  • 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 bioprocessing, marine processing, carbon transformation, bioplastics, energy storage and sustainable resource use. 

  • This expansion will allow the Verschuren Centre to provide additional capacity to support global startups developing biotechnology and clean technology projects. 

  • Cotex Technologies, whose products are sold under the name Nutrisy, also has a product development facility in Valdodara, India where the company was founded, but is in the process of moving its headquarters to Nova Scotia. 

  •  Cotex Technologies was the winner of the World Agritech Innovation Challenge 2021

  • Dispersa CEO Nivatha Balendra began the research that would become the heart of the company when she was 17, after being motivated to find an environmentally friendly solution to oil contamination following the Lac-Mégantic train crash in Quebec in 2013. 

  • Dispersa was officially launched in 2019 with funding from the federal Women in CleanTech Challenge supported by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). 

  • The Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI) – Infrastructure Fund was launched on August 20, 2020 and provides $150 million over five years, delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs), to help communities move away from coal by investing in infrastructure. ACOA is delivering $55 million under CCTI initiatives. The initiative is set to end on March 31, 2025. 

  • The Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program helps businesses speed up their growth so they can be more productive, compete on the world stage and reach new markets. 

Related products

Associated links


Hugo Alvarez
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Rural Economic Development

Lauren Sinclair
Communications Director
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Beth Mason
President, Verschuren Centre

Krilen Ramanaidu
Chief Product Officer, Cotex Technologies

Nivatha Balendra
CEO & Founder, Dispersa Inc.
514-548-2532 ext. 1

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