Nova Scotia-based algae startup SABRTech Inc. receives funding

By Erin Voegele | May 01, 2012

An algae startup in Canada recently won funding through the Nova Scotia CleanTech Open, which was launched by the province through venture capital organization Innovacorp last year. The company, SABRTEch Inc., has been awarded $100,000 in cash, a $200,000 negotiable seed investment, mentoring services and in-kind business building services through the program.

“Clean technology is one of the world's fastest growing industries,” said Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “Knowledge-based companies like those in the clean technology sectors create good jobs and are vital to Nova Scotia's future prosperity. This competition supports the innovation and competitiveness priorities of jobsHere, the plan to grow our economy.”

According to SABRTech CEO Mather Carscallen, his company launched two years ago with the goal of reducing human impact on the Earth’s polar regions. The company focuses on producing algae feedstock to serve the aviation biofuels industry.

Carscallen was unable to share details about how his company’s technology is different from any algae production systems already on the market. “[Our process] is essentially a completely new way to grow and harvest algae,” he said, noting that SABRTech’s solution is cheaper, easier and simpler than other algae production technologies. He also said it can achieve higher yields.

To date, the process has been evaluated on a laboratory scale. “We are working up to a scaled-down commercial prototype,” Carscallen said. “Once that is up and running, we’ll scale up. Within the next two or three years we are aiming to have a commercial plant up and running.” The prototype plant is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

According to Carscallen, the funding awarded through the Nova Scotia CleanTech Open is allowing him to add three new staff members to his team. Additional hires may be made at the end of the summer, he said. The funding is also supporting scale-up of the company’s laboratory facilities.

Carscallen said he expects to continue to pursue grant and funding opportunities in the future. His company is also engaging in multiple discussions with research and development groups and aviation industry representatives to develop partnership and collaboration initiatives.