Acadia University and Novagevity Inc. Collaborate to Improve Meal Replacement Beverage: Sperri
by Sommerfeld, Katrin
At Novagevity Incorporated, co-founded in 2019 by Dr. Mary Lynch and Gregg Curwin, it is believed that proper nutrition is the first step to better health. It is the building block to leading a long, happy, and healthy life. Backed by extensive research in a variety of health and medical fields, when it comes to nutrition, Novagevity knows what they’re talking about.
Having over three decades of experience in treating people living with chronic pain, Dr. Lynch learned that many of her patients were becoming sicker and more inflamed due to the foods they were eating. The conditions of pain her patients were experiencing made it difficult for them to prepare their own meals, making them reliant on meal replacements beverages for their survival.
This is when Dr. Lynch reached out to experienced entrepreneur Gregg Curwin. Both recognized it was critical to develop a plant-based meal replacement beverage with all essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients but without the gut irritants and allergens contained in other meal replacement beverages. Together, Curwin and Dr. Lynch created Sperri – Canada’s first organic, non-GMO, plant-based meal replacement.
“Being a Nova Scotian company, we knew we wanted to partner with a local academic institution to work on improving our product and getting valuable feedback. As a start-up, we do not have the capacity to do testing, run trials and conduct valuable research,” said Jill Conrod, Novagevity, Dietitian Specialist.
To undertake the work Novagevity desired, and to help address their challenges, Acadia University’s Office of Industry & Community Engagement (ICE) connected Dr. Matthew McSweeney, Associate Professor at the School of Nutrition and Dietetics and Director of the Centre for the Sensory Research of Food, with the company. ICE also assisted with valuable research funding applications.
With the support of Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) Tier 1 Productivity & Innovation (PnI) Voucher funding in 2020, Dr. McSweeney conducted sensory trials and focus groups to collect valuable scientific data for the final stages of Novagevity’s product redevelopment, mitigating the company’s risk, when Sperri enters the market.
“Sensory analysis is a multidisciplinary science structured in the scientific principle related to different areas of knowledge including food science, psychology, human physiology, statistics sociology and knowledge about product preparation practices,” explained McSweeney, “It has been defined as a scientific method used to evoke measure, analyze and interpret those responses to food products as perceived through the senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing.”
Dr. McSweeney is well-known at Acadia and in the food & beverage producer community for conducting fascinating and valuable food and beverages trials.
“Without Matt’s time and expertise, we would not be able to get this information which has greatly assisted with reducing our risk and improving the sensory of our product,” noted Conrod.
Novagevity was also awarded a Tier 2 NSBI PnI Voucher in 2021 which will help continue enhancing their product through trained panel sensory trials and further product research to support the launch of Sperri.
“Both of the NSBI vouchers have been extremely helpful for us as a start-up company,” explains Conrod, “Acadia has been great to work with. Matt has been excellent to provide ideas and capabilities of projects to assist with our product and formulation, and both Matt and Acadia ICE have assisted in the application process to ensure we are on track for success. Their expertise, capabilities and professionalism has helped us improve our product and conduct consumer research.”