Image: Nicholas H. LaValle, CEO & Co-Founder of Clean Valley CIC
Canada is home to a thriving startup ecosystem and at OKR Financial, we are pleased to witness the growth of some truly incredible companies. Our new Startup to Watch series profiles some of the exciting companies that are disrupting all kinds of industries.
This month, we sat down with Clean Valley CIC, a Nova Scotia-based startup that is making waves in the biomimicry and bio-utilization industry. Using nature-based technology to solve problems in the aquaculture and medical technology industries, Clean Valley CIC is changing the game with its sustainable approach to problem-solving.
Who are you? What does your company do and why?
Clean Valley CIC is a community interest research and development company based in Nova Scotia. We are young and eager to apply our knowledge of biomimicry and bio-utilization to industries in need of sustainable innovation. Our goal is to bring the nature-based efficiency of the ocean to the business world.
Who are your key people in the company?
We have two co-founders behind Clean Valley CIC, Nicholas H. LaValle and Damir Allen. I (Nicholas) am the CEO and Founder of Clean Valley CIC plotting dynamic strategies for Clean Valley CIC to enter the onshore aquaculture industry by arranging facility demonstrations. Damir Allen is Clean Valley CIC’s principle Marine Biologist, providing valuable knowledge and expertise regarding species acquisition and care. Damir also plays a prominent part on Clean Valley CIC’s R&D team, advising about the use of bivalves and algae as they relate to the workings of our biofilter.
How did you come up with this idea?
We subscribe to the idea of using biomimicry and bio-utilization to solve industry-wide problems. Biomimicry, in essence, is the idea that the natural world has had thousands of years to resolve many of the same challenges we face today. Thus, we are inspired by natural processes, primarily algae and its many applications, to create sustainable and efficient solutions.
How does your company solve a problem?
Our team tackles major industrial problems utilizing biomimicry and/or bio-utilization as the innovative factor. Confirming the problem with customers we then create an ecosystem to resolve this problem for the customer. Then as a project team filled with business professionals, academics, and industry experts to hold a polder model to execute the new technology.
How is your company different from competitors?
Our competitors’ main strengths are their size and age. All current companies are large and have been developing their products, teams, and networks for years or even decades. However, their weaknesses are their lack of innovation. The current state-of-the-art dissolved biofilters require five months on average to install, cost on average a half million dollars to install and require millions to maintain.
What are your future plans?
We have some big plans for growth. Our objectives are to have operations on five continents, operate a Canadian manufacturing facility, acquire five patents, and to raise up to $500 million in capital before our tenth year in business.
Do you have any tips for startups looking to grow?
Our suggestion would be to follow the rule of three:
- If you’re serious, write it down.
- You will get far more value asking for advice than for money.
- No one else will build what is in your mind, so either build it yourself or expand your vision to be plural with the others that are imagining it.
What is your favourite thing about being a startup?
Speaking for myself (Nicholas), my favourite part of the job is collaborating with experts and professionals to create solutions for tangible problems. Resolving a problem in a sustainable manner is a challenge but taking the path less travelled creates a deeper impact.
What’s the unique opportunity that you identified in the market? Where do you envision the company in the next 3 – 5 years?
Clean Valley CIC’s long-term vision is to operate on a global scale and continue to offer cost effective, eco-friendly water filtration. In order to reach this goal, we have a number of long-term milestones to achieve. These include expanding first to all of Atlantic Canada, second to the East Coast of the USA, third to Scandinavian countries, then other markets from there. In this timeframe we also want to move all of our biofilter manufacturing in-house for both local and international markets.
The Canadian government offers many support programs to develop innovation and startup ecosystems. What are the resources that you used and what works for you? Tell us about the experience!
We have worked with federal organizations such as NRC IRAP, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Learnsphere, Innovation Solutions Canada, the Cleanhub, and Mitacs. Provincially we work with the Clean Foundation, Innovacorp, and Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI). We have been developing applications with NGen and Ocean Supercluster. Our experience is that it’s pointless to get discouraged by a rejection. Take what you can from the feedback and show them why they were wrong to say no at first.
Seeing Clean Valley CIC work towards such innovative, sustainable business solutions is inspiring and we love to see ideas like this flourish at OKR Financial! What kind of problem is your startup solving? Reach out to us at [email protected] for a chance to be featured in our Startup to Watch series.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.