A Halifax company trying to develop the world's first underwater microscope capable of detecting fluorescence is getting a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

4Deep Inwater Imaging wants to detect signals of fluorescence from harmful algae before a full, potentially dangerous algae bloom appears.

"Not only are the outbreaks becoming more frequent, they are becoming more widespread," said Stephen Jones, the CEO of 4Deep Inwater Imaging.

"There are certainly good applications in aquaculture, in shellfish industries and water municipalities — just general drinking water monitoring."

His company — formerly Resolution Optics Inc. — already received $350,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency after Jones's attempts to commercialize research that started in a physics laboratory at Dalhousie University.

Resolution Optics — and now 4Deep — have developed and sold other high-tech microscopes.

Company becomes 'more self-sufficient'

Jones says this round of ACOA financing matches $500,000 in private equity financing the company raised in November.

"We are becoming a little bit more self-sufficient," he told CBC News on Tuesday.

Stephen Jones, CEO, 4Deep

Stephen Jones, the CEO of 4Deep Inwater Imaging, says this round of ACOA financing matches $500,000 in private equity financing the company raised in November. (CBC)

In addition to further developing its fluorescence microscope, Jones says the money will be used for marketing and additional hiring.

"Companies like 4Deep Inwater Imaging produce not only incredible technology, but incredible opportunities for Canadians," Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said in a statement announcing the ACOA funding on Tuesday.

"The government of Canada is committed to helping Canadian businesses like 4Deep grow, innovate and export so they can create good quality jobs and wealth for Canadians."