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Accelerate Highlights: Acuicy

Monday, May 6, 2024

Invest Nova Scotia Accelerate is a milestone-based program that helps Nova Scotia start-ups get investment-ready. In addition to funding, companies get access to a series of acceleration activities and resources. These start-ups are helping transform our economy. Get to know their amazing stories.

Community investment, corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, and now, sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) – there have been many names for how companies address climate change. Allison Murray, CEO and co-founder of Acuicy, has witnessed this evolution firsthand, having spent a good part of her 20-year career working inside multinational companies leading their sustainability strategies.

Allison joined forces with CIO and co-founding partner, Dawne Skinner, in 2022 to create Acuicy; business intelligence software using AI and deep industry data to help companies take the financial guesswork out of cutting carbon emissions. Acuicy generates a wide-range of low-carbon options customized to each business’s unique operations, along with the financial ROI so they can make decisions faster to cut carbon and save money.

Acuicy co-founders Dawne Skinner (left) and Allison Murray

“I've been through all the waves and have seen this whole area evolve, particularly how companies address climate change, but also what stops them from taking action to reduce emissions,” Allison said. “Many businesses need help to answer three key questions: 1) What are our options to reduce carbon emissions?; 2) How much will it cost us?; and 3) How much emissions can we reduce? Until now, getting the answers to these questions can take a lot of effort and money.”

Earlier this year, the company launched a free trial for the agri-food sector across Canada from farm to retail. Participants enter easy-to-find data about their buildings, vehicles, and operations. The pilot has been supported with funding from Invest Nova Scotia Accelerate, Net Zero Atlantic’s Emerging Concepts and Technologies (ECT) program, along with support from Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment and Climate Change.

This funding has allowed Acuicy’s team to integrate nature-based solutions and circular economy options into their recommendations that are relevant for agri-food producers and address hard-to abate carbon emissions from this sector. Participating companies are then asked to provide feedback so Acuicy can develop new features and improve their platform.

“We had our first pilot start this past month and it's focusing on the agri-food sector across Canada. We have twelve companies across the agri-food value chain that are using and testing our software, including Sobeys at the retail end of the value chain, to Nova Scotia’s Knoydart dairy farm at the producer level,” Allison said.

Along with being the only Atlantic Canadian company among 11 chosen to participate in this spring’s edition of Techstars Sustainability Paris, Acuicy was recently selected to take part in the latest round of the Invest Nova Scotia Accelerate, a milestone-based program that helps Nova Scotia start-ups get investment-ready.

“Obviously the funding is very helpful, but being paired up with our mentor has been a game changer for us,” Allison said. “We're working with Dawn Umlah and she is highly experienced. She's worked with a number of different start-ups and has been through all the phases of taking product to market and understanding the customer. She’s been hugely helpful for us in terms of helping us make sure we're really planning things the right way, understanding who our customers are and where to put our focus.”

Acuicy also attended last year’s Collision, a tech conference where start-ups can demo and exhibit their products and services. Allison spoke to its tremendous opportunities for start-ups at the earliest stage right through to more mature companies in market.

“We wanted to be able to start showing our software and what our capabilities are. We were starting to think about fundraising and wanted to start having some conversations with investors to begin understanding what we needed to prepare for,” Allison said. “We were able to exhibit our software in a booth, which we hadn’t done before, so it was great practice for our team and we made a lot of important connections. Collision was ideal for that.”

With the goal of scaling and bringing more companies on to their platform, Acuicy ultimately wants to see their early adopters – those that are currently using their software in pilots – start implementing low carbon options.

“Later this year, Acuicy will be available for companies with operations across Canada and the United States, with Europe being our next focus, and hopefully it will be used by lots of different companies and different industries to identify really important ways for them to reduce carbon emissions in their business,” Allison said.

“By that point, we would like to see if companies are acting on those recommendations and seeing how they are decarbonizing. That's the real impact we'll have in terms of the carbon emissions that Acuicy can help enable.”