New technology companies based in Cape Breton and the Mulgrave area have a chance to compete in a new competition offering mentoring and funding to help them develop their products.

Spark Cape Breton, launched today, Jan. 9, is a competition that finds and supports high potential, early-stage knowledge-based companies, and encourages entrepreneurial activity in the region.

"Many start-up companies evolve and grow to create jobs and make important contributions to their communities," said Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson. "A great entrepreneurial spirit exists in our province, and government is committed to providing entrepreneurs and businesses in the early stages of development with the tools they need to grow.

"I look forward to seeing the new ventures uncovered by the Spark competition."

Spark Cape Breton is presented by Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, and Innovacorp.

Entrants must be a start-up venture based in Cape Breton or the Mulgrave area. They must have a new knowledge-based product or service with zero sales revenue since inception. Funds awarded are to be used to support the completion of prototypes or preparation for taking the product or service to market.

The competition is offering four awards of up to $50,000, and mentoring from a seasoned businessperson. The amount awarded will be based on the company's need and the judging committee's decisions.

"Now, more than ever, a strong and vibrant economy in Atlantic Canada requires continuous innovation and the creation of new knowledge-based companies," said Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Rob Moore. "Spark Cape Breton will encourage the local start-up community to advance their ideas and support the development of innovative companies that will contribute to future economic growth in the region."

An eight-person judging committee will consider the quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written and oral presentation. Entries will be judged on which has the highest probability of entering the market in a competitively sustainable fashion and on commercial potential.

Interested parties meeting the eligibility criteria must ensure all submissions follow competition guidelines.

Entrepreneurs have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, to submit entries.

The winners will be announced March 20. Submissions can be completed online at WWW.INNOVACORP.CA/SPARK.

Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation is a federal Crown corporation offering programs in support of commercial development, community development, environmental stewardship and real property development on Cape Breton Island and in the Mulgrave area.

Innovacorp is Nova Scotia's early-stage venture capital organization. It helps knowledge-based companies commercialize their technologies and succeed in the global marketplace through investment, incubation and expert advice.

For more information, please contact:

Bob Pelley
T 902.564.2951 or 800.565.7051 ext. 1300
M 902.577.2689

Sydney, Nova Scotia, January 9, 2014