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Hacketts Cove company wins Wild Blueberry Solutions Challenge

AKSO Marine Biotech gets $126,000 to help grow sales, pursue new export markets and develop new products
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(stock photo)

NEWS RELEASE
AGRICULTURE
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A Nova Scotia company that produces a health supplement enhanced by wild blueberries has won an industry innovation prize.

AKSO Marine Biotech Inc., based in Hackett's Cove, Halifax Regional Municipality, is this year's winner of the Wild Blueberry Solutions Challenge. The prize, announced today, June 16, includes $126,000 to help grow sales, pursue new export markets and develop new products.

"There are some fantastic products now on the market made with Nova Scotia's wild blueberries, and the sector has enormous potential for further growth," said Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. "Our department supports this challenge to help innovative companies develop new products and increase their income from Nova Scotia's wonderful wild blueberries."

AKSO makes Nova Sea Atlantic sea cucumber capsules, a dietary supplement.

The fine powder in the capsules provides the health benefits of sea cucumber extract, infused with Nova Scotian wild blueberries. Years of study have shown that anthocyanins in wild blueberries can improve memory and brain health, protect the cardiovascular system, reduce blood pressure, help maintain healthy blood sugar and help with visual acuity. The blueberries also improve the product's taste, colour and shelf-life.

The Wild Blueberry Solutions Challenge is a competition among Nova Scotia companies to develop innovative value-added products and packaging solutions. It is a joint initiative between the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia.

Quotes:
"This unique project will help integrate two successful industries and healthy products. The commercialization of this new product will build on the wonderful health benefits of wild blueberries and export them around the world."
     - Peter Swinkels, president, Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia

"The entire AKSO team is grateful to be selected to receive this award. Wild blueberry and Atlantic sea cucumber are among the most valuable resources in Nova Scotia. The two products work together to help boost immune function. Creating a unique product from them has been challenging but also very enlightening. The success of our Nova Sea Atlantic Sea Cucumber capsules makes us believe we will continue to create new products and continue development using both ingredients."
     - Guangling Jiao, R&D manager, AKSO Marine Biotech

Quick Facts:
-- AKSO's product was developed in collaboration with Dalhousie University, National Research Council Canada and Perennia Innovation Centre
-- funding for the project comes from Nova Scotia's Building Tomorrow Fund, a three-year, $9-million provincial investment in agriculture, fishing and aquaculture
-- wild blueberries are Nova Scotia's largest agriculture export at $104.4 million in 2018
-- sea cucumber is a tube-shaped marine organism belonging to the same phylum as sea urchin and sea star

Additional Resources:
For more information about the Department of Agriculture, visit: https://novascotia.ca/agri/

For learn about the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, visit:
https://www.nswildblueberries.com/

For more information about AKSO, visit: https://akso.ca/
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