Spark Nova Scotia focuses on startups in grassroots communities that are doing amazing things, but aren’t always noticed.


SPARK is a province-wide competition for early stage technology companies across Nova Scotia. Winners receive up to $50,000 and guidance from seasoned business professionals to put their ideas into action. The goal of SPARK is to find and support high potential, early stage knowledge-based companies, and encourage entrepreneurial activity across the province.

SPARK 2019 will be held in three geographic regions covering greater Nova Scotia — Cape Breton, NS North and NS South West, with three competitions running simultaneously. Each region operates independently, with its own applicant pool, judging committee and award funding.


SPARK est un concours pour les entreprises de technologie en stade initial de développement partout en Nouvelle-Écosse. Les gagnants recevront jusqu’à 50 000 $, ainsi que l’aide de professionnels aguerris des affaires pour transposer leurs idées en actions. SPARK a pour but d’identifier et d’appuyer des entreprises du savoir en phase de démarrage qui ont un potentiel élevé, ainsi que d’encourager l’activité entrepreneuriale partout dans la province.

Les candidats doivent être des entreprises en démarrage situées dans une des trois régions visées par le concours (Cap-Breton, nord de la NÉ et sud-ouest de la NÉ).


Sponsors participate in the programming – including showcasing their start-up professionals as speakers and judges; extensive logo placement & messaging; regular social media push-outs; and, one-on-one engagement with the companies, judges and other sponsors. SPARK Nova Scotia is supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Thank you for making SPARK possible:


Entrants must have a new knowledge-based product or service.

Spark will accept applications from companies with zero or minimal revenue, if that revenue was obtained prior to the company commercially scaling up. In other words, if a company has launched, but is showing “pre-scale-up” revenue only — for example, revenue derived from beta clients or similar customer validation efforts — the Spark judging panel will consider those applicants.

Funds awarded will be used to support the completion of prototypes or preparation for taking the product or service to market.

Entrants must be the majority owner(s) (51 per cent or more) of the start-up, and plan to work full-time with the business in the competition region.

Spark is especially interested in start-ups from the information technology, life sciences, clean technology and ocean technology sectors. However, we welcome submissions for any innovation with big market potential.

people holding lightbulbs

Leur produit ou service doit être fondé sur la connaissance.

Les fonds accordés seront utilisés pour aider à la conception de prototypes ou pour préparer la mise en marché du produit ou du service.

Les candidats doivent détenir la majorité (51 pour cent ou plus) des parts de l’entreprise en démarrage et doivent prévoir travailler avec l’entreprise à temps plein dans la région où ils se sont inscrits au concours.

Spark vise particulièrement les entreprises en démarrage dans les secteurs suivants :  technologies de l’information, sciences de la vie, technologies vertes et technologie des océans. Toutefois, nous serons heureux de considérer toute demande de projet pour une innovation ayant un fort potentiel de marché.

flag of nova scotia

Based in Nova Scotia – The head office is located in one of the three Spark regions and the business is or will be registered there. No award funding will be disbursed until the business is registered in the respective region. Entrants must apply in the region where the business is located. The regions include:

  • Spark South West – Lunenburg County, Queens County, Shelburne County, Yarmouth County, Digby County, Annapolis County, Kings County, West Hants County.
  • Spark North – Guysborough County, Antigonish County, Pictou County, Cumberland County, Colchester County, East Hants County, Rural HRM (excludes Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford)
  • Spark Cape Breton – all of Cape Breton Island

Start-up – Start-up refers only to sales revenue and not to the number of years in business. To qualify as a start-up for Spark, the company may have zero or minimal revenue, if that revenue was obtained prior to the company commercially scaling up. For example, a company may have a small amount of sales based upon customer validation efforts, but will not have commercially scaled up yet.

New knowledge-based product or service – The business proposition must be a unique technology product or service that cannot be easily duplicated.

Previous applicants – If you have applied for Spark in the past, you are very welcome and encouraged to apply again. Only previous winners would not be eligible.

Detailed Contest Rules


Winners will receive up to $50,000 in non-dilutive, non-repayable funding. The amount awarded will be determined by the judging panel.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019Program Launch
Thursday, October 17, 2019Submission Deadline
Monday, October 21, 2019
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Shortlisted “Qualified Applicants” Notified
“Finalists” Notified
October 24 – November 7, 2019Spark Training Across Province
November 12-14, 2019Pitches and Judging
Friday, November 15, 2019Winners Notified


All applicants are welcome to participate in the first three Spark Training Program modules: Determining a Need; Building Your Business Model; and, Financing. These modules will offer business-building skills and support to help participants accelerate the development of their businesses. The shortlisted applicants additionally will participate in Pitch Training, to prepare for the final round of Spark when they will pitch to the judging committee. The training program is tailored to each cohort to provide the support and guidance they need the most. Participation in the training program will be considered in the evaluation of the finalists.

cape breton

Spark Cape Breton – Navigate Startup House, Sydney

  • October 24
    • Determining a Need (4 – 5 pm) – Permjot Valia
    • Building Your Business Model (5:15 – 6:15 pm) – Permjot Valia
  • October 30
    • Financing (4 – 5 pm) – Patricia MacNeil
  • November 7
    • Pitch Training (4 – 5 pm) – Permjot Valia
  • November 12
    • Pitch Competition (9:30 am – 2 pm) – Spark Judges
nova scotia vineyard

Spark North – NSCC Truro Campus, Truro

  • October 29
    • Financing (4 – 5 pm) – Krista Harding
    • Determining a Need (5:15 – 6:15 pm) – Permjot Valia
    • Dinner Break (6:15 – 6:45 pm)
    • Building Your Business Model (6:45 – 7:45 pm) – Permjot Valia
  • November 5
    • Pitch Training (4 – 5 pm) – Permjot Valia
  • November 13
    • Pitch Competition (9:30 am – 2 pm) – Spark Judges
nova scotia peggys cove lighthouse

Spark South West – NSCC Lunenburg Campus, Bridgewater

  • October 30
    • Determining a Need (4 – 5 pm) – Permjot Valia
    • Building Your Business Model (5:15 – 6:15 pm) – Permjot Valia
    • Dinner Break (6:15 – 6:45 pm)
    • Financing (6:45 – 7:45 pm) – Krista Harding
  • November 4
    • Pitch Training (4 – 5 pm) – Permjot Valia
  • November 14
    • Pitch Competition (9:30 am – 2 pm) – Spark Judges
  • NOTE: Pitch Competition Venue: South Shore Opportunities, 373 King St., Bridgewater

Round One – Business Summary

All Applicants: Complete the business summary form, below, using the instructions provided at “Pointers on using the form”. Submit the document via the website link or download and send via email to by Thursday, October 17, 2019, at 11:59 pm ADT. All applicants are welcome to attend the first three training modules.

Qualified Applicants will be shortlisted and notified by October 21, 2019.

Finalists from among the Qualified Applicants will be notified by October 31, 2019.

Round Two – Pitch

Finalists: Finalists are required to attend the first three training modules plus pitch training, then make their pitches to the judging panel between November 12 – 15, 2019. Finalists will have 10 minutes each to present their business overview, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session. A projector, screen and computer will be available in the presentation room. Finalists must provide an electronic copy of their presentation 24 hours prior to their scheduled pitch time.

Winners will be notified by November 15, 2019, and a public announcement will follow soon afterward. Feedback will be provided to all shortlisted applicants upon request.



All submissions will be treated confidentially and will not be made available to the public. Only those directly involved in managing or judging the competition will view submitted documents. While summary details will not be disclosed, the competition organizers reserve the right to announce those who advance to subsequent competition rounds.

Pointers on using the form

As with any online form, it’s always advisable to save content frequently offline (you wouldn’t want a power outage to wipe away your work) and once you’re online, test before you begin to determine the best saving and submitting methods for you.

For the “Save and Continue Later” feature, enter a few test words, then click “Save and Continue Later”. If you opt to have the link sent to your email, type in your email address. You should receive an email containing the link right away, so check all email folders connected to the email address you entered. (Depending upon your spam settings, the email might have been routed to a junk folder.) If you choose instead to save the link to a document on your computer, or to bookmark it via a browser, just select, copy & save or bookmark, then close your browser and go back to click the link, just to ensure your saved content is there. NOTE: every time you click “Save and Continue Later” a new unique link is generated. When you’re happy with everything entered on the form, click the blue “Submit Application” button, prior to the deadline of October 17, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Atlantic.

To use the downloadable form, click “Download the Form” at the top of the application form page. Depending upon your settings, the form may appear as a narrow box with an arrow to open, or may be saved in your “Downloads” folder. Open in Microsoft Word or convert to another application, then proceed to enter content and save on your own computer until you are ready to submit the entire form. When you’re satisfied that it is complete, send the document as an attachment via email to prior to the deadline of October 17, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Atlantic.

SPARK Innovation Program:  Business Summary Form