Invest in Cape Breton: Unama’ki-Cape Breton’s Rise in Tech and BeyondOctober 24, 2023

Produced by Michelle Samson, Storied Places Media

The Invest in Cape Breton podcast has launched! This series was developed by the Cape Breton Partnership to challenge assumptions about the island’s economy through in-depth interviews with local changemakers. These conversations go beyond the headlines to reveal the island’s untapped potential for investors and entrepreneurs, and offer a preview of the island’s coming transformation. 

In the inaugural episode, we explore the island’s innovation ecosystem with the help of three leaders in the med tech, clean tech and IT sectors who prove that innovation is thriving here. 

Listen now, or read on for a few highlights.

Yes, You Can Build a Successful Innovation Business in a Rural Community

Halifax Biomedical, a medical diagnostics business that provides advanced measurements to researchers and physicians, was once located in Halifax. Fifteen years ago, the company’s CEO Chad Munro moved it to Mabou—population 1,200. 

Chad made the decision because he wanted to live in a beautiful waterfront community and had faith that talented employees would want that as well. He was right, telling us that he’s had no problems attracting talent from the local pool and around the world. 

With improvements in remote work technologies (like expanded high speed internet access, decreased server costs, cloud computing, Zoom, etc) the barriers have been greatly reduced. As he puts it: “You can do anything from anywhere.  You just have to be the best in the world at it.”

Cape Breton Companies Are Attracting Investment Like Never Before

Darren Gallop is a Sydney-based serial entrepreneur who cut his teeth in the music industry before moving into cybersecurity with his current company, Carbide. Since he didn’t have as many connections in that industry, and was determined to fast-track its growth, he sought out accelerator programs in Toronto and Boston.

Those programs were invaluable for Darren, but they didn’t tempt him to move Carbide out of Unama’ki-Cape Breton. Big innovation ecosystems like Boston and Silicon Valley offer limitless opportunities for scale-up, but he knows he can build a multi-million dollar remote company with dozens of employees right here where his family and friends are. 

He can find the investors he needs from here too. In the last number of years, government and private investors like Invest Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Capital Group have popped up, and since the pandemic, global venture capitalists are writing checks to people they haven’t met in person. Darren says, “There’s never been more opportunity for attracting money and investment in your company in Cape Breton.”

A Unique Facility is Helping Ag and Industrial Biotech Companies Scale Up

Emerging companies with big ideas that could reduce GHG emissions and create a circular economy often hit a roadblock: it’s hugely expensive to take the concept from idea to reality. Enter the Verschuren Center for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, a facility with large-scale shared assets (like a bioreactor) for testing, and funding opportunities that don’t require giving up intellectual property. 

It’s a winning combination that has attracted promising companies from across North America. Beth Mason, the Verschuren Centre’s CEO, thought most of the companies would leave Unama’ki-Cape Breton after getting what they needed, but many are staying. She attributes that to the supportive local innovation ecosystem as well as the co-location of natural resources conducive to clean tech, like offshore wind, wave energy, and seawater. 

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In Episode 2, we explore Sydney Harbour’s port infrastructure with the experts who can tell you about the assets available today and the transformative developments that are coming down the pipeline.

Episodes will be released every two weeks. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe or follow now on your favourite podcast platform.