Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX, business entrepreneur, collaborate with Eosense, local high-tech company

January 25th, 2017
Eosense employees are seen with Eosense president Gordon McArthur (third left) and chief scientist Dr. Nick Nickerson (fifth right), StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk (fourth right) investor Henry Demone (third right) and Andrew Kendall, StFX Manager of Industry Liaison (second right).

St. Francis Xavier University’s commitment to educating innovative and entrepreneurial graduates, as well as boosting the Nova Scotian economy, was evident recently in StFX’s new relationship with its spin-off company, Eosense Inc. StFX and business entrepreneur and investor Henry Demone, High Liner Foods past-president and CEO, and current High Liner board chairman, are both investing in Eosense as it expands its expertise and grows its business.

StFX’s share ownership in Eosense, a company created in 2010 by StFX earth sciences professor Dr. David Risk and his then-students Gordon McArthur and Dr. Nick Nickerson, arose from three technologies invented at StFX. Now StFX alumni, they’ve taken their expertise in greenhouse gases gained from StFX to lead Eosense, Mr. McArthur as company president and Dr. Nickerson as chief scientist. 

“These three gas detection instruments were patented by StFX and rights for their use licensed to Eosense for commercial use. As Eosenses’s experience in this high-tech instrument market grew, StFX and Eosense agreed that the best commercial path for these technologies was for StFX to transfer the intellectual property to the company in exchange for an ownership stake in the business,” says Andrew Kendall, StFX Manager of Industry Liaison. 

"We saw significant growth opportunity in the company as it is becoming a global leader in this highly competitive industry. 

“I’m thrilled by this partnership,” he said. “We’re seeing innovative students getting real-world experience in high-tech scientific work well before they graduate, and with Eosense, those graduating students have an opportunity to remain in Nova Scotia and help the company and our economy grow.”

Now with 12 employees, Eosense, a high-tech, scientific instrumentation company specializing in greenhouse gas detection instruments, is growing rapidly and is exporting its gas detection instruments to a number of countries and customers such as the University of California at Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. 

“I look for talent and ambition in the leadership and employees of a company. I also look for innovation and a purpose that helps solve big challenges, and I see all of this in Eosense. The fact that StFX also sees this and is investing in the company is very positive,” says Mr. Demone. 

Eosense president Gordon McArthur adds “the partnership with StFX means that Eosense can always benefit from the faculty expertise in greenhouse gas science, but also from highly qualified graduates that StFX is well known for.”

StFX’s FluxLab students and technicians work on large-scale emissions measurement problems in the energy sector, and also develop strategies for measuring greenhouse gas emissions from soil and water. 

Mr. Kendall says this academic-corporate relationship ensures that Eosense can benefit from the highly specific soil-gas expertise of Dr. Risk and students of StFX’s Earth Science Department, and motivated students can quickly find research and even employment opportunities with Eosense even before graduation.

Mr. McArthur says when he started at StFX in 2008, he had no idea of the opportunities Antigonish would make possible.

“By formalizing our relationship with StFX, and bringing on Henry as our chairperson, we continue to develop the trusting and talent-rich partnerships necessary to make a global impact,” he says.

Mr. Kendall also notes that the One Nova Scotia report, outlining the action the province can take to address its economic and demographic issues, calls for academic-corporate partnerships to create high-tech local companies. “This is a great example of that.”

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