Innovators get help with business skills

Microbiate president Amber Kovisto, left, and company chief scientific officer Miranda Lock show off their soil and gravel oil cleaner product during a Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre event at the Foundry on Wednesday.

Amber Kovisto and Miranda Lock wanted to stay in the North and work in their field. To do that, they started their own company.

Five new companies who took part in the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre’s Costarter Accelerator program were celebrated on Wednesday. The three-month program is designed to take a company’s products and services from concept to creation. This is the second year for the program.

“By working with the mentors and Innovation Centre staff, they really get the education and mentorship that they need,” said Jaquelyn Holm, market strategist for the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre.

“There is also an investment associated with the program, so they get the funds they need to take the leap into full-time business,” added Holm.

All the businesses who took part are innovative in nature, said Holm, and include Intrideo, Microbiate, HAIL Cosmetics, Brainshift and

The Innovation Centre looks for companies that can grow and have an impact on the community, particularly those businesses that are doing something new or different.

Last year’s five companies are all still up and running.

Costarter Accelerator participant Amber Kovisto of Microbiate said the program was invaluable.

“They have provided a lot of assistance, a lot of mentoring. . . . We wouldn’t be anywhere close to this point without them.”

Kovisto said they learned a lot about marketing.

“We had a lot of the research and development done, but from the business aspect they have really helped us to grow.”

Already Microbiate has been able to expand and hire staff to increase the companies growth.

The Microbiate product is described as a green, natural oil spill kit, applied into oil spills in soil and gravel, that eats the oil and breaks down the hydrocarbons back into safe compounds in the ground. With forestry and mining big in the region, along with the use of heavy equipment, oil spills are common. Kovisto believes the Microbiate product can help solve the problem.

“Our biggest selling point is that we are Northwestern Ontario-based,” she said. “Although there are similar products . . . this will survive over the winter using natural microbes — and the green and clean aspect is something we are very proud of.”

Both Lock and Kovisto attended Lakehead University together with Lock earning her PhD in microbiology and Kovisto currently working on her PhD.

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