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Seismic shift: Dartmouth innovators receive $5M to invest in eco-friendly technology

Two Dartmouth innovators have received a total of $5 million from the federal government to invest further in ecologically-friendly technology.

Mara Renewables and GeoSpectrum Technologies are getting conditional loans of $3 and $1.9 million respectively through ACOA. They were two of six projects to share in $12.6 million given out Thursday by federal Innovation, science and economic development minister Navdeep Bains in Moncton. The money came from the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

GeoSpectrum Technologies, a leader in Nova Scotia’s ocean research sector, is developing a new coherent seismic source for conducting marine surveys. The new method will minimize environmental impact by using lower frequencies than other methods and provide higher-quality images of deep water structures and geographically complex areas.

This technology will allow offshore oil and gas exploration in areas that would pose geographical challenges or that are protected from other forms of surveying because of potential impacts on marine life.

GeoSpectrum president Paul Yeatman said the project, which has been in the works for a number of years, was having trouble attracting investment capital because of the sinking price of oil.

“The project has been struggling, without funding it could have been shelved for a few years which could have been a death knell,” he told The Chronicle Herald.

“We’re very pleased to have the funding in place. We’re already working on the project, we’re hoping to be ready in under three years to get into production.”

The ACOA funding also helped the company secure an additional international investment of $3.2 million through a partnership with PGS Geophysical A.S. in Norway.

“What we’re doing could be an environmentally friendly replacement for air guns (in surveying),” he said. “The potential is quite huge for the for the sale of these things.”

Mara Renewables will use its new funding for a project aimed at increasing the productivity of a proprietary micro-organism it uses to produce a biofuel and high-value oil from algae, and examine different methods to create these products.

The project will create new jobs at the company as well as help them reach a long-term goal to establish the region as a hub for advanced biofuels.

Tim Haig, president and CEO of Mara Renewables, said he was thrilled to receive the funding.

“This will help us upgrade already world-class lab to get to commercialization stage faster.”

The company has already identified commercialization opportunities for their products, including partnerships with companies in Canada and abroad.

“The government of Canada, through ACOA, is making strategic investments in innovation that build on competitive regional advantages and support diversification of Atlantic communities,” said Bains in a press release.

“By investing in projects like those announced today, we will help Canadian businesses grow, innovate and export so that they can create good quality jobs and generate wealth for Canadians.”

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