2017 Presenters Archive



Brian Bloom

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer – Bloom Burton & Co.

Brian Bloom is a co-founder of Bloom Burton & Co. and serves as the firm’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. By forging unique relationships with international healthcare-specialized investors, Brian raises capital for Canadian healthcare companies while helping investors realize returns.

Brian is a member of the Life Sciences Advisory Board at the National Research Council of Canada and also serves on the Board of Directors at BIOTECanada and the Baycrest Foundation. Brian is also the Chairman of the Board of Triumvira Immunologics, Appili Therapeutics and Grey Wolf Animal Health, and on the Board of Directors of Qing Bile Therapeutics.

Before co-founding Bloom Burton in 2008, Brian spent six years at Dundee Securities in the healthcare and biotechnology institutional sales and equity research groups. Brian started his career at New York-based investment banking firms SCO Financial Group and Molecular Securities. Brian received an Honors Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from McMaster University and subsequently studied at the Mount Sinai Graduate School for Biological Sciences of New York University, with a focus in molecular endocrinology and biophysics.

Honorary Conference Chair


Dr. Peter Vaughan

Chair of Canada Health Infoway

Dr. Peter W. Vaughan is a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School trained physician executive. He is Chair of the Board of Directors, Canada Health Infoway and is the former Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness, Province of Nova Scotia, former CEO of South Shore District Health Authority, former CEO of the Canadian Medical Association, former President of WebMD Canada, a former Emergency physician, family physician and former RCAF Special Operation Flight Surgeon (SOFY Op Air Bridge) in the former Yugoslavia in 1994.
Peter was Chair of the Board, Accreditation Canada and has held numerous positions on healthcare organizations, boards and committees.
Over the past 35 years Peter has been involved in the start-up of numerous companies and organizations to improve quality and innovation in healthcare in Canada and internationally.

BioNova’s Chairperson

Kevin Sullivan

Kevin Sullivan

CEO – Appili Therapeutics

Mr. Sullivan has over 15 years’ experience working with early stage biotechnology companies and has raised over $37M in private equity and non-dilutive government funding in biotechnology. Most recently he was Chief Executive Officer at DeNovaMed Inc., a biotechnology company focused on development of Gram-negative and Gram-positive antibiotics. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer at Viron Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing a novel immunotherapy and recipient of the Prix Galien Award for Biotechnology. At Viron, he and his team completed development of the Company’s lead program through Phase 2 clinical development with Series A and B financing from a syndicate of international venture capital including two pharma-venture participants. He is an active mentor and volunteer advisor for several start-up biotechnology companies. Mr. Sullivan received a BSc in Immunology from Dalhousie University, a Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology from McGill University and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business (UWO).

BioInnovation Challenge


Matthew MacKenzie

Owner/President – MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies Ltd.

Matthew MacKenzie is a Nova Scotia entrepreneur who’s been on the leading edge of the Nova Scotia machining and manufacturing sector over the past 10 years. His company MacKenzie Healthcare Technologies was named winner of the sixth annual BioInnovation Challenge at BioPort 2016 for their ParaGlide technology.

MacKenzie has built a reputation of top-notch quality and service with clients ranging from oil and gas to defense, and received a Top 20 under 40 award for innovation in manufacturing at the 2015 Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show in Toronto.


Early Stage Investing: Angels, Angel Networks and the early stage landscape


Ross Finlay

Co-Founder & Director – the First Angel Network Association

Ross Finlay is a Co-Founder and Director of the First Angel Network Association, Atlantic Canada’s largest association for private investors. He is on the Board of the National Angel Capital Organization, and is a Director of the U.S. Angel Capital Association and the Angel Resource Institute (of the Kaufmann Foundation). He is a recognized facilitator, business planner, and strategic change advisor who has an extensive background in public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

He has assisted in the development and review of countless business plans for start-up companies. Ross has extensive business networks throughout the world and has written as a regular columnist for Atlantic Business Magazine and for Progress Magazine. Ross has been Executive Director of a professional association in Ontario and President of a national consulting company specializing in providing consulting services in scientific, engineering and technical fields.

Since 1994, Ross has managed his own successful consulting practice. He returned to the corporate world for a time with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and SolutionInc Ltd., a software development company.

In 2002 Ross was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service through his efforts in numerous charities.


Dr. Bob Abraham

President & CEO – ABK BioMedical

Dr. Abraham has been a practicing clinician and Interventional Radiologist (IR) for over 20 years. Dr. Abraham graduated from Dalhousie University’s Medical School in 1987. After completing his Rotating Internship at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, he returned for specialty training in Diagnostic Imaging at Dalhousie University from 1988 to 1992.

He subsequently completed subspecialty training in Interventional Radiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia in 1993. He returned to Dalhousie University as Attending Staff and is Full Professor at the Medical School. Dr. Abraham has a track record of licensed catheter innovations, granted patents and is actively engaged in funded research projects with funding to date, totaling in excess of $4 million.

Dr. Abraham is a recognized leader in Canada and recently completed his tenure as Chair of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Examination in Diagnostic Radiology and as President of the Canadian Association of Interventional Radiologists (CIRA).


Dr. Darren Burke

Founder & CEO – The Doctor’s Formula

Dr. Darren Burke left his tenured university career to start a business in a highly competitive market. He took a product idea and turned it into a category leader in five years, then successfully exited the business. Since then he has worked with start-ups in a number of different industries from consumer-packaged goods to health technology. His expertise is in strategy development for sales, marketing
and exit planning. Dr. Burke is a mentor and advisor for a number of founders and organizations. He has held an operating role as the CEO in several start-ups where he helps to organize the management team, develop a scalable strategy and prepare the company for significant growth. He is a partner in an R&D company that has licensing deals for products sold worldwide. In addition, he is actively involved in the development of dietary supplements to fill the growing demand for natural, organic, and healthy functional foods.


Brian Lowe

Covina Biomedical Inc. & Co-founder and Director – First Angel Network Association

Brian E. Lowe is co-founder and a director of the First Angel Network Association, Atlantic Canada’s largest association for private investors and is a shareholder and director of several operating companies throughout Atlantic Canada. As an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader with over 35 years experience, he has been involved in a number of start-up companies throughout his career. Mr. Lowe raised millions of dollars for these companies. He has been responsible for taking technologies to market internationally resulting in mergers and acquisitions. As a co-founder of Immunovaccine Technologies Inc., Mr. Lowe brought invaluable expertise having been responsible for the incorporation and raising the necessary start-up funding totalling $10 million. On October 5th, 2009, Immunovaccine Inc. (TSX-V: IMV) became a publicly traded company. Mr. Lowe was also the Chief Operating Officer for ABK Biomedical Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other past experience includes serving as the President/CEO/Founder of three environmental companies based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Mr. Lowe successfully negotiated the sale of these companies to Laidlaw Environmental Services Ltd. of South Carolina. He is a previous director and Chair of BioNova, Nova Scotia Life Sciences Association, a past director of the National Angel Capital Association and a current director of Springboard Atlantic, a network with a mandate to support the commercialization of research through universities in Atlantic Canada.  Mr. Lowe is Entrepreneur in Residence at the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship under the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University.

Export Preparedness


Kyle Schmeisser

Director, Export Development – Nova Scotia Business Inc.

As the Director, Export Development at Nova Scotia Business Inc., Kyle leads a team of very experienced export development executives. This team works to build export capacity in Nova Scotia SMEs and to help these companies access new markets, leverage global opportunities, and participate in global value chains.

Kyle has held a variety of diverse roles at NSBI over the past eight years ranging from research and strategy to business development. Kyle’s approach is one of collaboration with partners with an eye to developing business and helping Nova Scotia’s economy grow.

Kyle was named one of the 21Inc Leaders for Nova Scotia in 2012. Through this leadership development program, Kyle has become part of a strong network of leaders with a common goal of seeing Nova Scotia prosper as a province.

Kyle has a love of sports including golf, baseball, hockey, and curling. He was a member of Team Nova Scotia at the 2012 Tim Horton’s Brier in Saskatoon.

Kyle has a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Dalhousie University and holds CSI’s Financial Management Advisor designation.


Jeff Larsen

Co-Lead, Executive Director – Creative Destruction Lab (Atlantic)

Jeff has entrepreneurial and management experience with new businesses in the energy sector, including as a co-founder of Seaforth Energy, Watts Wind, and Katalyst Wind. He has been on the board of directors of private and TSX-listed public companies and remains active in his community through volunteer efforts. Jeff has practiced law at McInnes Cooper in Halifax and in Toronto with Fasken Martineau and CIBC. He has also held senior positions in the investment sector as Vice-President and General Counsel of Halifax-based Clarke Inc. and as Executive Director of Business Management and Chief Compliance Officer with CIBC Asset Management Inc. in Toronto. Jeff has served in executive director roles at the Province of Nova Scotia, most recently in the Office of Planning and Priorities and before that in the Investment and Trade division of Economic Development. His work at the Province also included acting as the CEO of both ReNova Scotia Bioenergy Inc. and the Strategic Opportunities Fund Inc. and as a director of DSME Trenton Inc. His work at the Province has focused on innovation, startups, entrepreneurship, education, foreign direct investment, trade, and knowledge- and technology-based industries.

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto, a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and an MBA from Imperial College, University of London. Jeff has taught commercial law at Saint Mary’s University and was previously the Assistant Director and Guest Lecturer in the Osgoode Hall Law School Master of Laws (Securities Law Program). He was also a guest lecturer at the University of Malawi Law School in October 2007. Jeff co-edited with Poonam Puri the book Corporate Governance and Securities Regulation in the 21st Century.


Johannes Larsen

Advisor, JSL Business Advisory Services

Johannes’ background as a public servant, business leader, and entrepreneur has spanned the commercial enterprise and innovation domain for operations of all sizes. Among his many achievements, he was named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs in 2001 by Atlantic Business Magazine.

He has acquired and applied a wealth of business expertise, gained over 35 years in public and private sectors across the globe. C- level skills include: management, business development, international sales and marketing, technology licensing, and management advisory. His aptitude for networking, developing connections and relationships, as well as negotiating multinational contracts at the highest level, are his strong areas of competence.

While working at the executive level for several international firms, Johannes has: marketed technology; developed and signed licensee agreements in Japan, Singapore (Indonesia, Malaysia), Taiwan, and Mexico; and established Joint Ventures in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina with assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency.

He served as Vice President of Sales for Avis Car Rental for the Europe, Africa, and Middle East Division, where he led and managed a large diverse sales/reservation staff, and in the process, established close relationships with key multinational companies in fifteen European countries and USA.


Rachel Wilson-Cannon

Business Development Officer – BioTalent Canada

More than anything, a focus on relationship-building and the fact that their work improves people’s lives is what drives Rachel Wilson-Cannon, Business Development Officer with BioTalent Canada.  BioTalent Canada has reinvented itself over the past few years, and in the process has built one of Canada’s largest networks of biotech companies and associations, including no less than 5 national and 10 provincial industry associations, including BioNova.

BioTalent Canada Mission as a national non-profit association is ensuring that Canada’s bio-economy has access to the most skilled people available.  Along with producing high-quality biotech Labour Market research, BioTalent Canada works to link the BioEconomy with key employment markets, including newcomers to Canada as well as young people.

Prior to her current employ, Rachel worked for a private sector BioScience company and for the Public Health Agency of Canada.  She has a Bachelor of Science, BioChemistry from the University of Ottawa.

Export Development and the First Customer Abroad

Mark Regular

Mark Regular

Vice President Business Development – Partner International Inc.

Mark Regular is the Vice President, Business Development at Partner International. Mark is a senior member of the Partner International Executive team, managing global initiatives for clients including licensing, partnering, distribution, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Mark has significant experience in all facets of life sciences transactions, from strategy development, search and evaluation, licensing, negotiations, and deal structuring. He has led global client mandates for in and out licensing of products and technologies, product acquisitions, strategic partnering, and market development. He has worked in numerous therapeutic and industry areas. Prior to Partner International Mr. Regular worked for Industry Canada, Innovacorp, the Life Sciences Development Association, and Dalhousie University.

Mark has completed the Masters of Business Administration program at Saint Mary’s University, and a Bachelor of Commerce at Dalhousie University. He has also completed advanced training in company and technology valuations, deal structuring, negotiations strategy, sales management, and intellectual property management.

CSarkisian (unofficial)

Christine Sarkisian

Trade Commissioner, Life Sciences Business Development – Consulate General of Canada in Boston

Christine Sarkisian is a senior life sciences officer in the Government of Canada’s Global Affairs Canada- North American Life Sciences Network.In addition to her work as an integrative trade officer – working on both trade, foreign direct investment and science and technology partnering, she co-founded the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA@Boston), located at the Cambridge Innovation Center. She and a team of reviewers select Canadian biotechnology, medtech, cleantech, high tech, robotics and food technology companies for four-month residencies in the Boston area.

She also helped create the Canadian Mentoring Service, a joint venture of the Consulate General of Canada and the Canadian Entrepreneurs in New England (CENE) and serves on the CMS Steering Committee. She has worked in the innovation space with biotech and medtech companies since 1995 and facilitates cross-border business development and technology partnerships, advising biotechnology and medical device companies and researchers in Canada and New England.

She is also responsible for industry sectors including cultural industries/performing arts, commercial education and training, printing and publishing on a reactive basis.

CSarkisian (unofficial)

Heather Delage

Vice President, Business Development – BioVectra

B.B.A., University of Prince Edward Island (1990). Continued Education: McGill Mini-MBA program, York School of Business concentrated courses (Key Account Management, Project Management). 1990-2000: Diagnostic Chemicals Limited – Various roles in sales and marketing management, international distribution and project operations for development and commercialization of clinical diagnostic products for hospital and laboratory markets. 2000-2014: BioVectra – Increasing leadership roles in commercial functions, building a business development team and client base as a specialized global CDMO. Appointed to Vice President, Business Development for BioVectra in 2014.


Stephen Chiasson

Vice President & General Manager – Nature’s Way Canada

After graduating business school at St. Francis Xavier University Steve joined PepsiCo where he spent 14 years in a variety of roles across Canada. In his last 5 years at PepsiCo Steve served on PepsiCo’s National Executive team with responsibilities as Vice President and General Manager for Atlantic Canada.

After leaving PepsiCo Steve focused his efforts on launching his own venture in the housing industry. His deep passion for architecture led him to create a company called East Coast Modern that created a new way to build custom designed prefabricated homes.

For the past 5 years Steve has worked in the natural health products industry, first as the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Ascenta Health, and for the last two years as VP & General Manager of Nature’s Way Canada. In his role Steve leads a team that manufactures and distributes over 300 different natural health products.

Steve lives in Halifax with his wife Margo and their three daughters Cora (10), Sadie (9) and Hilary(7).