by Peter Moreira

Volta presented Ecosystem Impact Awards to five companies or organizations Thursday to acknowledge their contributions to nurturing startups in Atlantic Canada.

The Halifax startup hub initiated the awards this year to recognize groups that had helped to develop the ecosystem across the region. It handed out the awards at its summer party last week.

“The support and leadership within the startup community is one of the reasons why Atlantic Canadian companies are experiencing growth and success on national and international levels,” said Volta CEO Jesse Rodgers in a statement. “Organizations, like the ones recognized here today, are positively shaping our ecosystem, and are helping put Atlantic Canada on the map.”

The winners were:

Catalyst Award – Ignite Labs, Yarmouth. Ignite Labs opened last year to encourage entrepreneurial growth in the technology, oceans and tourism sectors in Southwestern Nova Scotia. It aims to create a technology culture in the region by presenting youth with problems experienced in the region and beyond and helping them devise solutions.

Positive Impact Award – Square Roots, Halifax. Growing out of the St. Mary’s University Enactus program, Square Roots works with farmers to find produce that would be rejected by normal supermarkets because it’s an odd shape or is unappealing. The company sells bundles of this food to low-income customers, the price depending on what they can afford.

Community Leader Award – Build Ventures, Halifax. Build is a venture capital firm that invests in scaling companies and so far its first fund has backed 14 companies with initial investments of $1.5 million to $3 million each. It is now raising its second fund and has publicly said it has received commitments of $15 million from Nova Scotia and $10 million from New Brunswick.

Corporate Supporter Award – McInnes Cooper, Halifax. McInnes Cooper is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest law firms, and supported various startup programs and organizations throughout the region.

Disruptor Award – SomaDetect, Fredericton. SomaDetect provides dairy farms with hardware and software that can scan a cow’s milk and provide instant data regarding the cow’s health. Currently, farmers rely on monthly data to make management decisions. With SomaDetect, farmers have access to daily measurements for every cow.

Volta said there were more than 40 nominations, and the recipients were selected by a panel of judges, comprised of regional business leaders.