That’s a Wrap! Highlights from the Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking Challenge

 In News

About one year ago we set out to host the first ever AquaHacking Challenge in Atlantic Canada. While last week’s Final marked the end of the 2020 Challenge, it’s only the beginning of an exciting journey in the water sector for most of the participants. We are confident the finalist teams — Clean Catch Baits, Well Warriors, WIDE, ExTech MIP and What the Well — will have a positive impact on solving critical local water issues.

As we cross the finish line of this year’s Atlantic Canada AquaHacking Challenge, we want to recognize everyone who made this program possible and celebrate a year of success.

Thanks to the commitment and generous support of our network, sponsors, and partners at Aqua Forum, we were able to pull off an incredible competition amidst snowstorms, a global pandemic, and economic uncertainty. We’re proud of all the participants’ achievements and are now happy to share with you some of the highlights of the full inaugural Atlantic Canada AquaHacking Challenge. Read on!

Atlantic Final

This September 18, five finalist teams pitched their proposals to advance treatment of drinking water in rural and Indigenous communities, enhance private well safety, and reduce microplastics from fishing gear. Here’s how they ranked:

  1. Clean Catch Baits [$20,000] Pitch
  2. Well Warriors [$15,000] Pitch
  3. WIDE [$10,000] Pitch
  4. ExTech MIP [$2,500] Pitch
  5. What the Well [$2,500] Pitch

Clean Catch Baits took the top prize of $20,000 for their 100% biodegradable, PVC-free soft-bait fishing lures for recreational fishing, developed through a unique organic biopolymer solution. This team also went home with an extra $1,000 awarded by public vote. Read more about Clean Catch Baits and the Final here, or check out a recording of the event.

Six expert judges were engaged to assess the teams’ pitches and allocate $50,000 in prizes.

Thank you, judges!

  • Lynn Adams, Director, Energy and Environment Policy, ACOA
  • Simon Mitchell, Vice President Resilient Habitats, WWF-Canada
  • Wendy Krkosek, Water Quality Manager, Halifax Water
  • Winter Sack, Interim Senior Director of Aquatic Resources and Fisheries Management, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq
  • Robert Pace, President & CEO, The Pace Group
  • Justin Moores, CEO, Synapse PEI

All finalist teams will be placed with start-up incubators in Atlantic Canada to further develop their technologies and grow their businesses.


17 AquaHacking finalists participated in a virtual expedition led by Waterlution. Participants benefited from multiple skill-building activities designed around five chosen 21st-century skills (effective leadership, communication, collaboration, empathy and team building). They also had an opportunity to connect with three water experts (Dr. Stephanie Gora, Gordon Check, Roxanne MacKinnon) and two local water-centred NGO leaders (Dorene Bernard and Cheyenne Macdonald) for mentorship through a World Café́ dialogue process. Thank you @Waterlution for your expert facilitation! Watch the short recap video.

“The AquaHacking Finalist Expedition allowed me to develop new leadership and collaboration skills and network with other individuals who are passionate about solving water issues like me.”


On June 17, 16 teams went head-to-head in the AquaHacking Atlantic Canada Challenge virtual Semi-Final. Five teams and 22 participants were selected to move on to Phase 2 where they connected with experts and mentors across water, tech and business sectors. And, thanks to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, each finalist team received a $2,000 bursary to refine their solutions.


The Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking competition officially kicked off on February 26, 2020 at Saint Mary’s University. Our water issue leaders unveiled five problem statements selected for the competition and registration opened for participants. In total, 117 participants registered for the Challenge!   Thanks again to our water issue leaders:

  • Roxanne MacKinnon (ACAP Saint John) – Algal blooms and eutrophication
  • Angela Banks and Mary Finch (PEI Watershed Alliance) – Sediment and pesticide runoff
  • Dr. Stephanie Gora (York University) and Mike Chaulk (CBCL Limited) – Treatment of drinking water in rural and Indigenous communities
  • Gavin Kennedy (Nova Scotia Energy & Mines) and Gordon Check (Nova Scotia Environment) – Private well safety
  • Ariel Smith (Coastal Action) – Microplastics from fishing gear

Check out the AquaHacking Alumni Network and @AquaHacking for updates on all of the teams and their ongoing work to solve water issues.

Be in the know: follow AWN on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! To be notified of upcoming events and workshops, sign up for our mailing list.


The AquaHacking Challenge is an initiative of Aqua Forum that was founded by the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation in 2015 to support technology and business development addressing environmental problems related to freshwater. After five successful years in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin, AquaHacking went national for 2020 with regional competitions across Canada. 

A Saint Mary’s University organization, Atlantic Water Network acts as a catalyst and support system for over 50 community-based organizations in Atlantic Canada by providing access to free equipment, data management solutions, and training workshops.

The AquaHacking Challenge 2020 in Atlantic Canada is powered by RBC Foundation and the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation. It is also made possible thanks to generous contributions from the following: