Nova Scotia call for startups goes global | Entrepreneur | Financial Post
In the end, even with the contest’s international focus, a local company nabbed the top spot.
“Wow, I’m slightly in awe,” said Mather Carscallen after his startup was crowned the winner at a formal announcement in late April.
His two-year-old company, SABRTech Inc., is developing technology designed to make algae a sustainable source of biofuel. Mr. Carscallen, a PhD student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the oil from algae can be refined into a biofuel replacement for gasoline and diesel.
Mr. Carscallen said the algae material used in biofuel production is essentially “a giant bucket of green slop that smells like a rotting compost heap.
“Despite the smell and its unappealing look, it is a beautiful little organism that provides a vast majority of the ecosystems on this plant with an energy source,” he said.
“Why not use that same energy source to fuel our cars and our trucks? And even further, why not use that same energy source, which nature has perfected over billions of years, to fuel every single plane across the globe? That’s our dream.”
The use of biofuels would significantly reduce the amount of emissions produced by the aviation industry. Many airlines — Lufthansa and Porter Airlines among them — have experimented with different biofuel blends. But there is a problem: Biofuels are significantly more expensive than their fossil fuel cousins.
Mr. Carscallen said his goal is to drastically boost the production and harvesting of algae, while lowering the costs. Only when it is mass-produced can algae be used to fuel the global aviation sector, he said.
By winning the CleanTech Open, Mr. Carscallen secured more than $300,000 in cash, seed investment and in-kind business services. Those resources will be used to build and test a prototype of his technology. If all goes to plan, SABRTech will have a production plant for mass-producing algae up and running within two to three years.
Such success would help put Atlantic Canada on the “global map” for clean tech development, Mr. Carscallen said.