Halifax, NS — A wristwatch-like safety device designed to locate fishermen when they fall overboard received $25,000 of funding at a pitching event May 22 at Volta.

The Volta Cohort program is a pitching event to help out early-stage companies with equity investment to help their products reach the market.

Five companies were awarded $25,000 each and a mentoring program to help launch their business ideas.

Of which, BlackWatch.Tech, a company based in Yarmouth, N.S., took home the prize after convincing judges the need for a wristwatch man overboard detection device.  A safety beacon installed on the boat tracks the fishermen on-board through the wristwatch. If someone goes overboard, the device sends an alert to the captain to locate the crew member.

“It is a huge win for the company. It will now allow funding for some of the required prototype design that we are building with Dalhousie University”, said Jon Raimund, CEO of BlackWatch.Tech.

Raimund explained that idea for this device came about after asking fishermen their most nagging problem in their industry. One of the common threads was the frustration of not finding a crew member when they fall overboard.

“Men overboard are issues that are more common than people realise,” Raimund explained.

“In the last 16 years, they have been 204 fatalities from fishermen falling overboard. The fishing industry has fatalities of 23 times more than the norm.”

In fact, “they have another incident of a lobster fisherman in Prince Edward Island who fell overboard just a couple of days ago and there are no results yet,” he added.

There are currently safety devices that are on the market to detect man overboard for fishermen, but they are not widely adopted.

“The problem is that they are too big and cumbersome and restrict the movement when they are working,” Raimund said.

“So they end up not wearing it.”

The wristwatch-like safety device takes this factor as one its main design considerations, that is, one small enough for fishermen to have on all the time and not restrict their movements.

The device is currently in the prototype stage, and Raimund is optimistic to get its device on fishing boats next year.

BlackWatch.Tech is based out of  Ignite Labs, an innovation and entrepreneurial think tank centre in Yarmouth, N.S.

Raimund would like to thank Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Innovacorp, Volta and Ignite Labs for their continued support in the development of this product.