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Spark Nova Scotia Competition Rules

About Spark Nova Scotia

Supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, managed by the Community Business Development Corporations of Nova Scotia, and coordinated by Nava Develop Inc., Spark is Nova Scotia’s early-stage startup competition, providing awards of up to $50,000 per company, from a total of $375,000 in award funding.

The Award

  • Up to a maximum of $50,000 in non-dilutive, non-repayable funding per company.
  • Additional terms and conditions may apply.

Overview of the Process

Entrants must apply by midnight on October 4, 2021, through Spark Nova Scotia’s web-based application form or via email to sandra@sparknovascotia.com.

Competition Stages and Scoring

Entrants may be deemed as Qualified Applicants at an early shortlisting stage, and these candidates will be invited to participate in the Spark Training Program. To qualify, the applicant’s business head office must be physically located in one of the Spark NS regions at time of application. There must be a physical presence at that address, such as a home and/or office, and judges may require proof of this home or office via utility bills or similar correspondence.

Finalists

Selection of the Finalists is conducted by the Spark Nova Scotia independent judging panel, based upon the following criteria: 1) Technology and innovation-driven core competitive advantage; 2) Business viability and scalability with large, addressable markets; 3) Strength of founder team (track record, leadership and ability to get things done); and, 4) Potential for presence and impact in Nova Scotia.

Pitch Competition

Winners are selected from among Finalists in each region, by the Spark Nova Scotia independent judging panel. The following criteria are used to assess the 10-minute verbal pitch, which is followed by Questions & Answers: 1) Pitch Content; 2) Pitch Style/Delivery; and, 3) Proposed Impact to Nova Scotia.

Specific scoring will be assigned as follows:

  1. Management Team (20 points) Skillset of key individuals, entrepreneurial track record, capacity to effectively develop the company and handle the risks associated with the venture;
  2. Value Proposition (20 points) Description of the product, the problem it solves, benefits, current stage of development, proprietary position is sustainable and defensible;
  3. Business Model and Market Opportunity (20 points) Description of target customers, customer validation, market size (TAM), competitive analysis, pricing, sales/promotion strategy;
  4. Spark Milestones & Success Metrics (20 points) Reasonable plan and timeline for Spark program milestones, list of key activities to achieve milestones, detailed budget for up to $50K award; and,
  5. Capital Requirements & Investment Potential (20 points) Feasible, clear plan of execution, investment potential.

The Spark Nova Scotia independent judging panel will then determine award amounts for each winner by dividing up the $375,000 at their discretion, based upon their evaluation of the competitive merit of each investment proposal.

Entrepreneurial Development and Support

All Qualified Applicants receive entrepreneurial training. Finalists additionally receive pitch workshops, one-on-one mentoring, business feedback and strategy consulting.

Key Dates and Regulations

August 16, 2021: Program Launch

August 30, 2021: Training Registration Deadline

September 9 - 30, 2021: Spark Training for all Registrants

October 4, 2021: Competition Application Deadline

October 8, 2021: Applicant Finalists Announced

Week of October 11, 2021: One-on-one Pitch Training

October 18 - 26, 2021: Pitches and Judging

November 1, 2021: Winners Announced at Gala Event

Regulations

  • Entry must be received, via the website application form or via email with completed form to sandra@sparknovascotia.com, by no later than Tuesday, October 4, 2021 at 11:59 pm AT.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Entries may be submitted by individuals, partnerships or corporations. Entrants must ultimately incorporate their startup company in order to be eligible for funding.
  • Each individual Entrant may enter one idea. The idea must involve a plan to commercialize a new technology (a product or service).
  • The Entrant’s company must use technology as a core aspect of their business, such that the business is not possible without that technology.
  • Consulting businesses are not eligible.
  • Companies that have been a Spark Nova Scotia Competition winner previously, including through the Spark Innovation Challenge, are not eligible to re-apply.
  • Entries must be accurate and complete.
  • Spark Nova Scotia may request additional documentation and substantiation.
  • Entrants must disclose any funding already received at the time of registration. Any source of funding that has an equity ownership component must be disclosed.
  • Spark Nova Scotia reserves the right to disqualify any entry that, in its sole judgment, violates the letter or the spirit of these rules.
  • The decisions of Spark Nova Scotia are final and binding.
  • The identities of the Entrants and the short description of the business disclosed in their application and suitable for public awareness, as well as any pitch delivered during any Spark Nova Scotia event, are considered of public domain and can be used by Spark Nova Scotia for marketing and publicity purposes.
  • Before submitting entries, Spark Nova Scotia urges Entrants to confirm with appropriate advisers or legal counsel that any intellectual property described in their summary is protected; i.e., by appropriate intellectual property filings, notices, (patent, copyright, etc.). Concerning intellectual property, Spark Nova Scotia advises Entrants to seek independent legal counsel.
  • The Finalist Pitch Contest will be held in the three respective regions. Shortlisted Entrants will have 10 minutes to present their idea with a 5-10 minute Q&A to follow. Order of presentation will be alphabetical based on the company name.
  • Spark Nova Scotia reserves the right to seek the independent, confidential opinion of third party experts regarding business viability and evaluation of the proposed technology.
  • Spark Nova Scotia may require additional documentation and substantiation of the Applicant's original application, investment proposal, business plan or other submissions.
  • While business registration is not required simply to enter the competition, proof of business registration is required before a winner can be eligible to receive the award funding.
  • Spark Nova Scotia does not guarantee any amount of funding to the Entrants in the Spark Nova Scotia competition.

Description of Key Decision-Makers and Advisors

Spark Nova Scotia is comprised of three main groups: Community Business Development Corporations of Nova Scotia; Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; Nava Develop Inc., and representatives from sponsor organizations.

The Judging Panel is comprised of experts in early-stage investment, technology entrepreneurship, accounting, intellectual property and business law.

Spark Nova Scotia

Is a collaboration by the Community Business Development Corporations of Nova Scotia and Nava Develop Inc., funded by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and provides financing and strategy for entrepreneurs as a pathway to economic development and diversification. The Community Business Development Corporations of Nova Scotia are a Member of the Community Futures Network of Canada and delivers and coordinates the Spark Nova Scotia Competition and selects the Shortlisted Entrants and, following full presentations, awards funding and declares the winner(s) at the organization’s sole and unfettered discretion.

The Judging Panel

  • Is a group of external reviewers who are volunteers and serve in an ad hoc advisory capacity to Spark Nova Scotia throughout the Spark Nova Scotia Competition.
  • Interacts directly with Entrants (in particular, at the Spark Nova Scotia Pitch Contest event) and evaluates startups for investment.
  • Is responsible for selecting the winner(s).

Spark Nova Scotia Advisors

A group of volunteer experts from across the regional innovation ecosystem who provide entrepreneurial development support to startups (such as pitch and board room simulation coaching, advice and feedback) as well as advising Spark Nova Scotia in delivery and coordination of the Program.

Publicity

All Entrants are asked to participate in media and press opportunities related to the Spark Nova Scotia Competition. This includes, but is not limited to, the following opportunities:

  • Any Entrant may be asked to provide a 150-200 word description that will be made available to media and may be released publicly, either in part or in its entirety.
  • Any Entrant may be asked to speak to the media for competition-related interviews when requested by the organizing committee.
  • Any Entrant may be asked to provide quotes and/or content for any competition related press releases. Participating in media and press opportunities in no way, shape, or form requires teams to disclose any proprietary or otherwise confidential information related to their businesses. Spark Nova Scotia agrees to provide consultation to any Entrant, upon request, to avoid such disclosures while participating in press related opportunities, should the Entrant express their desire for such consultation and support relative to their intellectual property.

Miscellaneous

Spark Nova Scotia Entrants agree that they will not use the name of “Spark Nova Scotia”, “Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency”, “Community Business Development Corporations”, “Nava Develop” or any variation, adaptation, or abbreviation thereof, or any trademark owned by Spark Nova Scotia in any advertising or publicity without the prior written permission of Spark Nova Scotia.

Spark Nova Scotia makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the Spark Nova Scotia Competition, express or implied. In no event shall Spark Nova Scotia be liable for any advice, information or decision made for or on behalf of the Spark Nova Scotia Competition or for incidental or consequential damages of any kind, including economic damages or injury to property and lost profits, regardless of whether Spark Nova Scotia shall be advised shall have other reason to know or in fact know of the possibility of the foregoing.

All information is collected in accordance with Spark Nova Scotia’s published Privacy Policy.

Spark Nova Scotia reserves the right to update the Rules of the competition at any time. It is the responsibility of each and every Entrant to be aware of any updates, although Spark Nova Scotia will endeavour to ensure that all participants are advised of any changes made to the Rules, which will be published online and notice will be given on www.sparknovascotia.com, the official Spark Nova Scotia website. In the event that there is any disagreement between the preceding Rules and any other documents, the Rules published here will prevail.