TRURO – After being open for less than a year, the experimental Perennia Innovation Centre is already in growth stage.
Minister of State Rob Moore visited the Bible Hill centre Tuesday morning to announce funding of $442,960 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to expand the facility for the addition of five new tenants.
Truro Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann also announced that the province is kicking in $94,920 through the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.
“With this investment Perennia is doubling its tenant space,” Moore said. “Perennia will also install specialized equipment, including a steam generator, for the production of food and non-food bio products.”
The $9.2-million centre in the former Agri-Tech Park officially opened last October as a facility designed to assist Nova Scotia entrepreneurs develop and launch bio-resource products in the marketplace while building their businesses and creating jobs.
Currently, six tenants are housed at the facility.
“We’re working on a lot of exciting product development initiatives,” said CEO Tracey Crowell, of such ongoing activities as injecting summer savory into honey lozenges to increase their health benefits, developing a “smart cheese” with increased health benefits and a project that involves wild lupins into a protein feed source for the aquaculture sector.
“So there are a lot of exciting things going on.”
The funding will also allow Perennia to install specialized equipment, including a steam generator for the production of food and non-food bio products, a propane generator to back up equipment in the event of power outages, a processing system for by-product conversion of primary products for the nutraceutical market, and shelf-life temperature controlled coolers to accelerate shelf-life testing of foods.
“We’re also very excited about the new incubator suites that this will now prepare us for,” Crowell said, of the new tenancy space, which will complete the original plans for the facility.
“What the funding today will do, it will actually decrease the capital expense to get new tenants in here because we will actually be able to provide some of that fit up,” she said.
“So this just really allows us to continue on with that (original) vision.”
Construction is expected to begin this fall, she said.
The announcement was attended by about 40 people, including Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong and a number of municipal representatives.
“Our community has become the heart of agricultural innovation and excellence in Nova Scotia,” Armstrong said, of initiatives being undertaken at Perennia, Dalhousie Agricultural Campus and through farmers’ market activities.