Leading Health and Life Sciences in Nova Scotia


“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

We founded WorkInsights in 2017 to understand how we work and develop analytics that quantifies and maps the productive energy of a company to highlight how the working environment limits or leverages the capacity for change, productivity, innovation, and growth. With the incredibly fast pace of change today, we need to lead and work together in ways to be ready for and responsive to change, and capable of thinking about what will come next, and innovating to take advantage of the opportunity.

We are disrupting our approach to work and performance. We are not afraid to push boundaries. Founded in our desire to have a positive impact and make change happen for the better so entrepreneurial companies can innovate and grow, we apply our curiosity to ask and listen, to understand and learn. Energy moves people to take action. The working experience affects whether that energy will be positive or not. And energy can be changed for the better. How people approach their work, the relationships between teams – from the frontline to management to leadership – can be positive, strained, or even fearful. This flow of energy affects an organization’s ability to succeed. If the energy is blocked at a level or team, it affects the organization’s ability to reach the potential to be creative, innovative and productive, and make change or growth happen. We need to measure the mindset – how people think, feel and act – of an organization to optimize the approach to work, top-down and bottom-up, we identify how to support people to function at their best. By asking questions, listening to the responses, we gain insight to work together to achieve more while building healthier working environments for healthy people and healthy businesses.



Contact Information

Michael DeVenney, Founder
[email protected]

NEWS RELEASE: BioNova Announces MycoFutures North Atlantic as the Winner of the Eleventh Annual BioInnovation Challenge (BIC) at BioPort 2021

November 8, 2021 — [HALIFAX]MycoFutures North Atlantic from Newfoundland was named the winner of BioNova’s Eleventh annual BioInnovation Challenge (BIC) business pitch competition at BioPort 2021. The company is leveraging the complexity and sustainability of mycelium, the root system of fungi, to create a luxurious leather alternative that will help alleviate the environmental impact of natural and synthetic leathers currently on the market.

“The BioInnovation Challenge provided us with invaluable investment attraction training and resources to launch our startup with the right business plan and strategy,” said Stephanie Lipp, CEO & Co-founder, MycoFutures North Atlantic. “It was an incredible opportunity and we look forward to building a successful company right here in Atlantic Canada.”

This year, the top three BIC finalists all had a focus on sustainability, producing high value products that are beneficial to human health and the environment. From Newfoundland came winners MycoFutures North Atlantic, competing beside finalists Bactana Canada Corp. and Au Naturel Solutions Inc. both from Prince Edward Island.

The goal of the competition is to help ease the transition from research laboratory to market. MycoFutures North Atlantic will receive a prize package that includes $25,000 in seed funding and an advisory services package worth more than $30,000.

“Our competition provides high-potential startups coming from the regions health and life sciences sector with sector specific mentorship and resources they need to attract investment and bring their products to market,” said Scott Moffitt, Executive Director, BioNova. “We hope to see continued support from our regions government, academia, healthcare, and others for this high-value accelerator.”

The Judging Panel:
Jennifer Chan
 – Executive Director, Policy and Government Affairs Merck Canada Inc.
Jennifer Hamilton, PhD– Senior Director, New Ventures (Canada) and Advisor, Impact Investing, J&J Global Community Impact
Doris Grant – Senior Director, Innovation at Nova Scotia Health Authority

About BioNova
BioNova leads the Health and Life Sciences sector in Nova Scotia and is the host of the BioPort Conference, the BioInnovation Challenge and BIC Junior. Our industry-led sector growth plan, BioFuture 2030, has made us the fastest growing sector in Atlantic Canada. We represent over 150 companies in Nova Scotia who have raised over $73 million in investment dollars since the beginning of 2020. Visit our website at www.BioNova.ca

About BioPort
BioPort provides a forum to educate, inform and inspire the health and life sciences community to develop their ideas, commercialize their technologies and build links within the region and with guests brought in from the U.S. and from around the world. For more information visit www.bioportatlantic.ca. | https://bioport-2021.heysummit.com/

NEWS RELEASE: BioNova’s BioPort 2021 Conference for Health and Life Sciences Kicks-Off Today

Halifax, NS – November 2nd, 2021 – BioPort 2021, Atlantic Canada’s largest health and Life Sciences industry conference, kicks-off today and is set to explore the health and life sciences sector’s focus on ‘Thinking Bigger’ as the industry has become a turning point for health systems, and economic and societal recovery from COVID-19. The conference will also highlight the newest and most innovative health trends and technologies, and will take place virtually November 2-5, 2021.

BioPort will be featuring a talk from the Hon. Stephen McNeil, who will be speaking on Atlantic Economic Recovery on November 3 at 1:00 p.m. There will also be sessions focusing on the Atlantic Investment Bubble, investing in women in the sector, the impending east coast talent shortage, and a session on the rapidly growing fermentation sector among others. 

“Our focus this year is ‘Thinking Bigger’, with a plan to drive economic growth for Atlantic Canada using the Health and Life Science sector. We’re providing a hub for industry leaders and innovators to collaborate on a plan of action forward.” said Scott Moffitt, executive director of BioNova.

BioPort 2021 will also showcase seven of Atlantic Canada’s best health and life sciences innovators in its BioInnovation Challenge (BIC) business pitch competition. The BIC Semi-final live pitch competition, happening on Nov. 3rd (2-5pm), is 100% free and open to the public! Tickets for the BIC Finals, happening on Nov 5th (11-12pm), are available for a discounted price and registered attendees will be able to vote for the final winner.

A full copy of the program can be found here.

About BioNova
BioNova leads the Health and Life Sciences sector in Nova Scotia and is the host of the BioPort Conference and the BioInnovation Challenge. Our industry-led sector growth plan, BioFuture 2030, has made us the fastest growing sector in Atlantic Canada. We represent over 200 companies in Nova Scotia who raised over $75 million in investment dollars during the pandemic in 2020. Visit our website at www.bionova.ca 

About BioPort
BioPort provides a forum to educate, inform and inspire the life sciences community to develop their ideas, commercialize their technologies and build links within the region and with guests brought in from the U.S. and from around the world. For more information visit www.bioportatlantic.ca

For all media questions or information about accessing the conference please contact:
Shana Cristoferi
Marketing Manager, BioNova
sc[email protected]

NEWS RELEASE: BioNova Selects Eight Semi-Finalists to Participate in the 11th Annual BioInnovation Challenge

August 24, 2021–[HALIFAX]– Eight early-stage health and life sciences companies from each of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces have been chosen as the 2021 BioInnovation Challenge (BIC) semi-finalists. Hosted by BioNova, the BioInnovation Challenge is one of the longest-running business competitions in Atlantic Canada, celebrating and propelling the region’s next top innovators. This year’s BIC will be held virtually during BioNova’s annual BioPort conference, Nov. 2-5, 2021.

Both a pitch competition and business accelerator, BIC has supported the creation of over 70 new companies in the sector and distributed $465,000 in prize value since 2011. Last year’s eight BIC semi-finalists raised over $1 million in 2020, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous participants of the competition include Swiftsure Innovations, Motryx, Picomole, ABK BioMedical, NovaResp Technologies, Coloursmith Labs, 3DBioFibr, MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies, and Chinova Bioworks.

“Each year, the BioInnovation Challenge introduces us to Atlantic Canada’s most innovative health and life sciences companies, providing them with invaluable connections, funding, and resources to kickstart their acceleration,” said Scott Moffitt, executive director of BioNova. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of our sector and why it’s critical that we support our brightest innovators in the early stages of their development, positioning them for continued success.”

The eight semi-finalists will present their business ideas on November 3rd to an experienced panel of judges who represent industry and investment organizations knowledgeable about health and life sciences. Three finalists will then be selected to pitch in the finals on November 5th, with a winner to be announced that afternoon at the closing of BioPort. This year’s winner will be awarded a grand prize valued at $55,000, comprised of $25,000 in seed funding to develop their business idea and an advisory services package exceeding $30,000.

Semi-finalists will receive significant training to be positioned for business growth and to successfully develop their pitches before the conference, including one-on-one sessions with expert pitch training coach Linda Plano. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, and serving clients around the world, Linda has worked with more than a thousand entrepreneurs who have gone on to raise over $1.3 billion.

These eight semi-finalists were selected from a group of high-caliber applicants developing medical technologies, bioproducts, and natural health products with a shared focus on better health outcomes and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the entrepreneurs who will be pitching virtually on Nov. 3 during BioPort 2021:

Au Naturel Solutions Inc. — PEI
Simone Cormier, Founder
Specializes in the manufacturing of an all-natural materials breast prosthesis made of sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials and an innovative attaching system which does not require purchase of a specialty bra.

Axtion Independence Mobility Inc. — NS 
Tracey McGillivray, CEO; Liam Maaskant, CPO
Created a mobility device that combines a four-wheeled rollator walker with an elevating seat to prevent falls and enable independent recovery from a fall should one occur.

Bactana Canada Corp. — PEI 
John Kallassy, CEO
Bactana Canada Corp. uses a microbiome discovery platform to develop innovative products through use of cutting-edge molecular and DNA sequencing methods to improve animal productivity and ultimately animal protein production. Their initial product is a patented feed additive for poultry and potentially swine.

MycoFutures North Atlantic — NL 
Stephanie Lipp, Co-founder
MycoFutures North Atlantic is developing a highly-durable mycelium-based leather alternative using the root system of fungi. This product will reduce the environmental impact of apparel and footwear manufacturing.

Picketa Systems Inc. — NB 
Dominic Levesque, Co-founder & CTO
Picketa Systems Inc. created a soil and plant scanning technology and software platform to log and manage user data to optimize crop fertilization.

Pivotal Health Sciences Inc. — NB
Craig Jackson, CEO
Uses sustainable extraction and encapsulation technologies without the use of high energy or chemical additives to reduce the number of steps required to transform raw feedstock to high-value nano encapsulated bioactives.

Remidose Aerosols Inc. — PEI 
Dr. Michael Mayne, President
Manufactures medical grade devices that deliver accurate dosing of purified cannabis oil. Their three primary products are an inhaler, an oral spray, and a topical aerosol device, each of which enable rapid onset of premium bioactive cannabinoids to avoid over consumption.

Takaya Technology Inc. — NS 
Erin MacKean, Co-founder & COO; Jennifer McFarland, Partner Development
Takaya Technology Inc. has developed a novel, medical grade N95 mask with advanced respirator seals to provide healthcare workers greater protection against COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens.

BIC 2021 is supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and sponsored by BioNB, Dalhousie University Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement (OCIE), Nova Scotia Health, and Emergence, with in-kind services provided by Cox and Palmer, Gallagher, Bereskin & Parr, Grant Thornton, and Jennifer Cameron PR.


About BioNova

BioNova leads, accelerates, and advocates for Nova Scotia’s growing Health and Life Sciences sector and is the host of the BioPort Conference and the BioInnovation Challenge (BIC). Since 1993, BioNova has been accelerating the growth of its member companies to commercialize life-changing research to improve healthcare, provide healthier food, and develop sustainable solutions. BioNova champions the sector’s cluster of world-class research facilities, incubator programs, and companies who, together, bring investment and jobs to Nova Scotia.

Our industry-led sector growth plan, BioFuture 2030, has made us the fastest growing sector in Atlantic Canada. We represent over 150 companies in Nova Scotia who raised over $75 million in investment dollars in 2020.

About BioPort

Since 2002, BioPort has provided a forum to inform and inspire the health and life sciences community to develop their ideas, commercialize their technologies and build links within the region, nationally and abroad.

For further information, media may contact:

Shana Cristoferi
Marketing Manager, BioNova
[email protected]


Access high-resolution logos and promotional BIC photos


BIC Judges

  • Jennifer Hamilton, PhD: Senior Director, New Ventures (Canada) and Advisor, Impact Investing, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact
  • Doris Grant, M.Sc: Senior Director, Innovation, Nova Scotia Health
  • Jennifer Chan, M.Sc.: Executive Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Merck Canada Inc

BIC Semi-Finals 

The BIC semi-finals will take place virtually on Wednesday, November 3, 2-5 p.m. The general public is invited to attend the livestream of the semi-finals, free of charge. (The three finalists will be announced).


BIC Finals & Live Winner Announcement

The BIC finals will take place virtually on Friday, November 5, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. The top three BIC finalists will present their pitch again and BioPort attendees will be given the opportunity to vote alongside the judges for their top pick to win.

Our BIC 2021 winner will be announced during the closing remarks of BioPort on Friday, November 5, 3:30-4 p.m (A news release will be issued)

In order to watch the BIC Finals Pitch Competition and the announcement of our BIC 2021 winner, a paid, full-conference pass is required.