Hubbards e-bike company wins innovation challenge

A new e-bicycle company in Hubbards, is receiving $50,000 in funding and business guidance through Innovacorp's Spark Innovation Challenge. The business, SURU, is one of five winners selected in the Spark West region of the province.

SURU's co-founders, Michael Uhlarik and Kevin O'Neil, are developing zero-emission, electric-powered bicycles that can travel up to 50 kilometres without fuel or pedalling. The bikes are manufactured entirely in Nova Scotia.

The bikes are capable of reaching speeds of 32 kilometres an hour and cost $3,499, according to SURU's website. The company is anticipating shipping the first bikes in April of 2018.

"Participating in the Spark Innovation Challenge has guided the trajectory of our business," said Mr. Uhlarik, said in a news release. "The coaching we received through Spark and the funds being awarded will help us build better products and win in the marketplace."

The challenge expanded across the province this year, with winners in each of the four competition regions receiving up to $50,000 in funding and mentorship from seasoned business professionals. The four regions were Spark West, Spark North, Spark Halifax and Spark Cape Breton.

The first province-wide Spark Innovation Challenge attracted 136 submissions. Eleven finalists in the Spark West region pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Finalists also participated in several business workshops and were mentored by seasoned business professionals.

The other winners in the Spark West region are:

- Alias Earth, a set database company founded by Jim Dorey of Morden, Kings Co., $50,000

- Electric Puppets, a virtual reality company founded by Ryan Cameron of Chester, Mahone Bay, $50,000

- Finleaf, an aquaponics company founded by Myrna Gillis of Brooklyn, Queens Co., $25,000

- Nexus Robotics, an autonomous farming robotics company founded by Teric Greenan, Jad Tawil and Thomas Trappenberg of Barss Corner, Lunenburg Co., $25,000

Winners must use the prize money to build prototypes or take new products and services to market.

Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency each contributed $400,000 towards this year's Spark Challenge.

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