Panels & Sessions

Event Host
Levi Lawrence, Owner, Pragmatic Solutions

Levi is an enthusiastic problem solver. His ongoing drive is to tackle complex problems with an eye to improving the region around him. While his background is anchored in the food and beverage, hospitality and e-commerce industries, over the past 9 years he has become even more passionate about business and brand development, entrepreneurial thinking, solving complex problems and communications. He has continued developing himself through the Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leaders Program, mentorship activities and collaboration with like minded entrepreneurs.

Rounding out his passion for business development and problem solving is a lifelong interest in other cultures, travel and continuously learning new things. At his core, he is a happy husband, a proud Atlantic Canadian, a total food AND business geek.

Atlantic Economic Recovery – COVID Success as a Path to Prosperity

Throughout the pandemic, Atlantic Canada became a destination of choice—a safe-haven—managing to attract people, companies, and investment to the region. This beautiful coastal area continued to see post-secondary institutions churning out a pool of talented graduates, an aggressive immigration strategy to support firms to bring in international talent, and governments heavily investing in both company formation and attraction.

Join the Honourable Stephen McNeil, former Premier of Nova Scotia, and current Senior Strategic Advisor for Cox & Palmer in their Halifax office, for an impactful discussion on the success our region has had with managing COVID as a jumping point for our future opportunities. He will draw from his national and international insights and experience to discuss key criteria needed to continue to build a competitive and prosperous regional economy.

Hon. Stephen McNeil, Strategic Business Advisor, Halifax

After retiring as from his position as Premier of Nova Scotia, the Hon. Stephen McNeil joined Cox & Palmer in the role of Strategic Business Advisor to the Halifax office. His national and international insights and experience help our clients and our lawyers, recognize and participate in new opportunities throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond.

Until his resignation in Spring 2021, Stephen was the dean of Canadian premiers, having held the office since 2013. In total, he served for 18 years in the Nova Scotia Legislature and was re-elected five times by the voters of Annapolis.

During his time in provincial government, Stephen served as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Planning and Priorities, Minister of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness, Minister responsible for Military Relations, Minister responsible for Social Innovation and Integrative Approaches, and Minister responsible for Youth. He was Leader of the Official Opposition in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 2009 until 2013.

“The Art of Possible”: Regional Collaboration to Accelerate the Sector 

Capitalizing on our Regional Assets  (Sponsored by Innovative Medicines Canada)

As we reflect on lessons learned during COVID and assess the best path to economic, health and social recovery, there has never been a more opportune time to build a regional Atlantic Canadian value proposition for life sciences. Whether we want to strengthen the start-up ecosystem, increase global investment, improve clinical trial access, bolster our research capacity, or attract and retain talent, we are competing with other jurisdictions around the world who have sophisticated strategies to ‘win’.  Join us as we make the case for a regional life sciences strategy.  We will discuss key criteria needed to build a competitive regional life science cluster and why we must leverage respective Provincial strengths now to build and activate the “Atlantic Advantage”. 

Cheryl Stewart-Walsh, Director, Atlantic Canada, Innovative Medicines Canada

Cheryl Stewart-Walsh is an experienced executive with a background in building and delivering strategic initiatives, partner engagement and capacity building. She is currently the Director responsible for Atlantic Canada for Innovative Medicines Canada. Prior to that she was the Associate Vice President of University Advancement at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has also served in several federal, provincial and municipal government capacities in roles such as Director of Policy at Nova Scotia Business Inc, Principal Advisor, Office of the Mayor, Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Minister of State for Public Health and Senior Policy Advisor, Cabinet and Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Cheryl serves on the boards of the IWK Hospital, PEI BioAlliance, Nova Scotia Council on the Status of Women and FORCE.  She  has also served as Director for the United Way, Neptune Theatre and the Halifax’s Mayor’s Economic Council. She holds a Master Degree in Public Policy and Administration.

Stephen Lund, CEO, Toronto Global

Stephen Lund is a dynamic business leader with over 30 years of experience in banking, venture capital, finance and economic development.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of Toronto Global, the organization responsible for attracting new international investment to the Toronto Region.

From 2015-2020 Stephen was the CEO of Opportunities NB (ONB), the lead business development organization for New Brunswick, CEO of CyberNB, and Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Small Business. He was responsible for all Investment Attraction and Exporting activities and oversaw a lending portfolio of $420 million. Under Stephen’s leadership, ONB consistently exceeded its targets, had among the best results in Canada, and produced the best results in the province in over 20 years. ONB attracted some of the top companies in the world, and with the creation of CyberNB within ONB, New Brunswick was recognized as the premier jurisdiction in Canada for cybersecurity. ONB was named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers for four years in a row and one of Canada’s Top 40 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2018.

As CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) for over a decade, he consistently surpassed targets, assisted in the revitalization of Halifax’s downtown core, and played a key role in the province being named by fDi Intelligence (Financial Times) as the best-performing region in North America in attracting inward investment.

Prior to his NSBI tenure, Stephen was Vice-President of one of Canada’s largest venture capital firms and a corporate banker with Canadian and international banks.

Stephen was recognized by Atlantic Business Magazine as one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada five times in a row, was named one of the Top 500 most influential people in Financial Centres worldwide, and has been inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine’s CEO Hall of Fame. He participated as a judge at the Canadian FinTech & AI Awards, Accenture’s Healthcare Innovation Challenge, and Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Awards.

Stephen earned a prestigious X ring from St. Francis Xavier University, holds an MBA from Queen’s University, obtained an ICD.D from the Institute of Corporate Directors, and completed executive-level studies at Harvard, University of Chicago and Queen’s University.

He is currently the Chair of the board of directors of the Conference Board of Canada and has served on numerous private and volunteer boards, including the IWK Children’s Health Centre and the QE2 Hospital Foundation. He was a champion for Junior Achievement and was the inaugural Chair of the Heart & Stroke Hockey Heroes Fundraiser. Stephen has also participated in the World Triathlon Championships, the Boston Marathon, and the Canadian University Hockey Championships.

Stephen and his wife Sandy have two boys, Connor and Shaun

Rory Francis, CEO, PEI BioAlliance

Rory Francis is a native of Prince Edward Island. He earned a BSc in geology and chemistry from Mount Allison University and an MSc in hydrogeology from the University of Waterloo.

Since 2004 he has been CEO of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance, a not-for-profit partnership of bioscience businesses, academic and research organizations, and government agencies that includes 60 companies earning over $365 million in annual sales. He is a founder of the Emergence Bioscience Business Incubator, Natural Products Canada, a national natural products ecosystem and business accelerator, and CASTL, the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences. From 1991 to 2003 Mr. Francis held Deputy Minister positions in several provincial government departments, including Environment; Agriculture and Forestry; Fisheries and Aquaculture; and Health and Social Services.

Mr. Francis has served as a Board member with the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and is President of the Eastern Canada Oilseeds Development Alliance. He chairs the Advisory Board for the Culinary Institute of Canada’s Technology Access Centre and is a member of the National Research Council’s Advisory Board for their Aquatic and Crop Resource Development Program. He is Finance Warden of St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral in Charlottetown.

He is married to Ann Francis and father of three grown children.

Scott Moffitt , ED, BioNova

Scott is a senior management professional with more than 20 years of life science experience in industry, government and non-profit sectors.  By leveraging his leadership and management abilities, Scott has built solid relationships and delivered significant results in each position he has held.  Having returned to his home province a few years ago, Scott is now focussed on making Nova Scotia a better place.


Scott is presently the Executive Director of BioNova, Nova Scotia’s health and life sciences industry association and sector development organization, where he is leading the advancement of the sector for the Province of Nova Scotia to establish the life sciences as a pillar of the new economy.  Scott leads a team focussed on building collaborative relationships within the province and beyond to attract companies, investment and people to Nova Scotia.


In the past Scott served as the Senior Investment Officer – Bioscience, for Innovation PEI, the lead economic development agency for the Province of Prince Edward Island.  In this position, Scott led a team of professionals and was responsible for the growth of the bioscience sector through prospecting, attracting and investing in international businesses, and by internal business growth of on-island companies.


Among his significant previous positions, Scott was the commercialization officer with BioNova, assisting early stage companies with their business development efforts, offering strategic business and industry advice to accelerate commercial development and build value.  Prior to this, Scott served as the marketing manager for the microbiology division of Thermo Fisher Scientific, where he was responsible for overall market development, the introduction of innovative strategies and the management of supplier partners for the Canadian marketplace.  Before being recruited to the microbiology division, he was the business development marketing manager for Thermo Fisher Scientific and was responsible for attracting, introducing and managing new suppliers to expand the existing distribution capabilities within Canada.

Scott has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Acadia University and presently resides in Halifax, NS with his family.

Meaghan Seagrave, CEO, BioNB

Meaghan Seagrave is a nationally recognized thought-leader in the bioeconomy and has been spearheading industrial transformation projects across the country for almost a decade.

She spearheads BioNB – an independent organization focused on providing leadership and support to companies and stakeholders in New Brunswick’s bioscience sectors. Her educational background, including a graduate degree in agricultural sciences and several certificates and diplomas in communications, leadership and management development, combined with over two-decades of experience in early-stage technology companies making her one of the more diverse entrepreneurial supports in the region.

Her influence is national in scope and brings industry and association collaborators across a multitude of technology and resource-based sectors in Canada, building strong partnerships and positioning New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada as leaders of the country’s bioeconomy. She has brought international attention to the province and the region by espousing its assets to international investment groups and companies interested in the region’s opportunities.

Her advocacy efforts are equally impressive as she has and continues to serve in leadership roles on over ½ dozen regional and national boards in support of entrepreneurs, industry associations and venture capital investment entities.

Fermentation: The Internet of the Future (Sponsored by Natural Products Canada)

How Fermentation Will Play A Critical Role In The Development Of Just About Everything By 2030

When programmers were busy configuring 1s and 0s back in the ‘90s, few could imagine that we’d all be walking around with powerful computers in our pockets today. 

Fermentation is a technology that holds that much potential – and more. Its profound capacity to produce everything from medicine to protein to plastic is making it one of the most sought-after resources in the innovation world today.

In this session, Natural Products Canada will lead a discussion on the broad potential of fermentation, innovative applications in Atlantic Canada, global and regional capacity issues, and the opportunity this technology presents for the region.

Stephen Ball, Regional Director, Natural Products Canada-Atlantic 

Stephen is a forward-thinking, strategic problem solver with over 20 years in the international innovation space. With a background in biochemistry, Stephen has built this career on his scientific knowledge, fueled by his desire to use science to create real-world solutions.

Before joining Natural Products Canada, Stephen was Director of Sales and Marketing at BioVectra, a contract manufacturing company serving a global client base. There, he gained extensive understanding of various manufacturing processes such as fermentation, and their role in new product development. He was also exposed to the regulatory requirements of Good Manufacturing Practices, Environment Canada, Health Canada, and the FDA. Most importantly, he garnered a reputation for developing mutually-beneficial business relationships with clients and partners, helping the company significantly expand its market share.

Stephen was responsible for over $100 million in sales, providing extensive insight and leadership to project teams to ensure their viability. He also led corporate and academic research teams through the commercialization process, helping them manage issues in research, navigate regulatory compliance requirements, and negotiate intellectual property agreements.

Stephen has a BSc from Mount Allison, and received his MSc at Memorial University. He completed his MBA with a concentration in marketing at Saint Mary’s University.

Dr. Beth Mason, CEO, Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy & the Environment (VC Inc.)

Dr. Mason is the CEO of the Verschuren Centre Inc (VC), an independent NFP research and deployment centre, helping industry adapt, and new companies develop their sustainable clean technologies. The centre’s focus is around biotechnology and renewable thermal energy. Beth came to Nova Scotia six years ago to build the bio-processing program at the centre, after working in alternative fermentative development of dairy derivatives in bioethanol with Saputo Dairy Products Canada for 11 years, and running her own by-products logistics business in BC. Her background brings a mix of industry, research, government and business approaches to problem solving in the Agri-food and marine industries, specifically by-product value extraction and production of functional ingredients for animal, human and plant health. With a focus on resource circularity, smart materials and Industrial fermentation the VC advances companies in the bio-economy through large pilot capacity in Industrial bio-fermentation and synthetic biology toward commercial scale.  The VC is currently commercializing a novel fermentative platform for marine co-product upcycling into bioactive ingredients in agriculture, aquaculture and pet food markets.

Roberto Armenta, Chief Scientist, Mara Renewables Corporation

Dr. Roberto Armenta is the Chief Scientist and Director of Research & Development of Mara Renewables Corporation where he leads the innovation work of a world-class, diverse, gender-balanced group of scientists. Dr. Armenta has worked extensively in academic, government and industrial sectors. His leadership on science and technology in the fields of biochemistry, industrial microbiology and biotechnology, have been crucial for developing, scaling up and successfully commercializing microbial derived bio-products. With nearly 20 years’ experience, Armenta’s tenures have also included leadership roles as Natural Products Biochemist with the Prince Edward Island government, Senior Scientist and Director of R&D for Ocean Nutrition Canada’s Fermentation and Metabolic Engineering Group. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Sciences at Dalhousie University and have supervised the work of many university students. He is also a prolific inventor and author, with many commercially relevant patents and numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications to his name. He is also a member of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology and the American Oil Chemists’ Society. He is an avid runner, loves soccer, and enjoys hiking and camping with his family. He works and lives happily with his family in the City of Lakes, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Brianna Stratton, President, DeNova

Brianna is President and Founder of DeNova, a clean biotechnology company developing and commercializing breakthrough technologies to produce sustainable alternative protein derived from the fermentation of natural bacteria. Brianna has a diverse cross-sectoral background, including the last decade in investment and entrepreneurship, and is passionate about driving business and technology to create a healthy planet.

Liam Tayler, President, Clever Fruit Products

Liam Tayler is President of Clever Fruit Products; whose focus is the development of premium fermented fruit products through a unique fermentation technology.

Liam created North America’s first range of commercial Haskap berry products in two separate product categories; a grocery product line including condiments and juices, and a premium health powder. Tayler has 20 years of product launches and 6 years in novel food.

Facing the Bio-economy’s Impending East Coast Talent Shortage Head On (Sponsored by BioTalent Canada)

According to BioTalent Canada’s most comprehensive labour market report, Canada is faced with a major labour and skills shortage by 2029. Regionally, this shortfall will be felt most in Atlantic Canada’s bio the-health and agri-bio sub-sectors, the impacts of which could leave Canada unprepared for the next crisis. Join BioTalent Canada President and CEO Rob Henderson for a panel discussion focused on what industry can do today to meet the talent demands of tomorrow. They’ll discuss the issues from three distinct perspectives — employers, academia, and young talent — to give a complete 360-degree view of the challenges and opportunities within Atlantic Canada’s growing bio-economy. 

Rob Henderson, CEO, BioTalent Canada

Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada, is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of private and public sector management experience. He has transformed BioTalent Canada into an in-demand partner, policy influencer, and project leader that brings together the largest national bioeconomy network in Canada. Under Rob’s guidance, BioTalent Canada has engaged with government, employers, associations, post-secondary institutions, immigrant serving agencies, and service providers. Together, this dynamic network strengthens skills, connects job-ready talent to industry, and creates opportunities. Its proven performance provides industry with funding, HR resources, and labour market intelligence to help companies successfully build their teams.

Rachel Brown, Director of Post-Secondary Relations with the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

Having proudly served GNB for over 24 years, Rachel has lead a variety of provincial programs, initiatives and teams within the departments of Social Development, Education and Early Childhood Development and most recently with PETL; she currently co-leads along with multiple provincial partners the Future NB /Future Wabanaki initiative, along with supporting the province’s post-secondary sector both publicly funded and privately owned as well as managing funding agreements such as but not limited to medical school programs in partnership with Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia), Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec), the Department of Health and other jurisdictions.

Félix Despres

From Dieppe, NB I graduated from Mathieu-Martin High school in 2018. I’m currently studying a 4th year in biochemistry with a specialization in molecular biology at Université de Moncton. I did my summer internship at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute under Dr. Gilles Robichaud. I am also currently doing my honors thesis with him.

Lester Wood – Vice President, People & Corporate Culture, Biovectra

• BBA from UNB Fredericton (1989).
• Certified Human Resources Specialist (CHRP).
• 20 years of Human Resource experience in Professional Service, Health Care, and Oil & Gas.
• Appointed to Executive Director, Human Resources in 2016.
• Appointed to Vice President, People & Corporate Culture in 2020.

Collaboration & Balance: The “Other” Pandemic Lessons (Sponsored by Innovative Medicines Canada)

Join distinguished health leaders and fellow east-coasters Pamela Fralick, President of Innovative Medicines Canada and Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice-President of Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive at Nova Scotia Health in conversation. During this session, Pamela and Gail will discuss the opportunities of a life science sector in balance with resilient health care systems. Drawing on examples of industry and sector responses to the pandemic, the conversation will also provide insights into how Canada can leverage collaboration and partnerships to drive investment and innovation across Canada, including in the Atlantic.

Cheryl Stewart-Walsh, Director, Atlantic Canada, Innovative Medicines Canada

Cheryl Stewart-Walsh is an experienced executive with a background in building and delivering strategic initiatives, partner engagement and capacity building. She is currently the Director responsible for Atlantic Canada for Innovative Medicines Canada. Prior to that she was the Associate Vice President of University Advancement at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has also served in several federal, provincial and municipal government capacities in roles such as Director of Policy at Nova Scotia Business Inc, Principal Advisor, Office of the Mayor, Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Minister of State for Public Health and Senior Policy Advisor, Cabinet and Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Cheryl serves on the boards of the IWK Hospital, PEI BioAlliance, Nova Scotia Council on the Status of Women and FORCE.  She  has also served as Director for the United Way, Neptune Theatre and the Halifax’s Mayor’s Economic Council. She holds a Master Degree in Public Policy and Administration.

Pamela Fralick, President, Innovative Medicines Canada 

Driven by a life-long commitment to improving Canadians’ health and well-being, Pamela works with the country’s research-based pharmaceutical companies to ensure that all Canadians have access to the medicines they need, when they need them, and that Canada remains an attractive place to invest in the life sciences. Her unique perspective on the policy issues of the day is informed by her decades of working closely with patients and researchers to find solutions to some of our most pressing healthcare challenges. Prior to IMC, Pamela was President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, where she led the transformation of the organization’s operational and governance structures, helping to strengthen its position as the country’s leading cancer-fighting
charity. Her patient-centric perspective is also shaped by past leadership roles at the Canadian Healthcare Association (now HealthCareCAN), the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the Health Action Lobby (HEAL), the Health Charities Coalition of
Canada (HCCC), CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy,  Vice-President of Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive, Nova Scotia Health

Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, VP of Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive at Nova Scotia Health, is a champion of innovation in healthcare, leading teams and developing partnerships to seek creative solutions and agile processes to address challenges in the province’s health system to deliver the best care for improved health outcomes. Gail is an internationally recognized expert in population needs-based approaches to health system strengthening and workforce planning, evaluation, capacity-building, and research. She has been an expert advisor on health workforce to the World and Pan American Health Organizations since 2005 and is Director of the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning and Research (Dalhousie University). Her research involves leading/co-leading multi-disciplinary teams and working with national and international partners. Her work has been widely funded and published, garnering extensive interest from governments and other stakeholders because of its significant impact on health policy and practice worldwide. Gail is a Fellow in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, Canadian Academy of Nursing, and American Academy of Nursing

Nova Scotia’s Growing Industrial BioTech Sector (Sponsored By Innovacorp)

Paul Richards, Regional Manager with Innovacorp provides an overview of AscendBio, a collaboration between Innovacorp and Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment and introduces founders who are scaling their companies in Nova Scotia.

Paul Richards, Regional Manager, Innovacorp

Paul Richards is the Sector Manager for Industrial Biotechnology and Agtech for Innovacorp, Nova Scotia’s early stage venture capital organization. Paul focuses on enabling knowledge-based companies to accelerate the commercialization of their technologies and to create a dynamic high-growth entrepreneur culture in Nova Scotia.

Since taking on this role Paul has worked to establish a growing ecosystem in Atlantic Canada capable of growing venture grade companies for these sectors. His portfolio of early-stage start-ups has raised over $100 million dollars.

In addition, Paul servers as a Director for Bioenterprise, Canada’s leading national Agri-tech accelerator where he advises companies from across the country on commercialization and raising investment. He is also a founding member of the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub, a public/private consortium design to transform the bio-economy.

Building and Maintaining Workplace Culture with Virtual or Hybrid Teams

Office culture affects the workplace and can directly impact employees’ performance and overall mood. In fact, up to 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary (Glassdoor, 2019). Your workplace culture is at the heart of your organization, a combination of the business’s values, mission, and goals. It is not built overnight but through an ongoing participatory effort from the entire company.

Culture is not just something you design, it is what you do every day, what you tolerate and how you respond to each interaction.

While many businesses are adjusting to having employees both in-office and remote, creating a workplace culture has become more important but also more challenging. Understanding how to manage a hybrid workforce effectively is key to creating a positive workplace culture that ensures all employees are provided access to the same materials, technology and lines of communication.

There is no one silver bullet, but no one should have to figure this out alone.

Levi Lawrence, Owner, Pragmatic Solutions

Levi is an enthusiastic problem solver. His ongoing drive is to tackle complex problems with an eye to improving the region around him. While his background is anchored in the food and beverage, hospitality and e-commerce industries, over the past 9 years he has become even more passionate about business and brand development, entrepreneurial thinking, solving complex problems and communications. He has continued developing himself through the Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leaders Program, mentorship activities and collaboration with like minded entrepreneurs.

Rounding out his passion for business development and problem solving is a lifelong interest in other cultures, travel and continuously learning new things. At his core, he is a happy husband, a proud Atlantic Canadian, a total food AND business geek.

SR&ED Info Session for Health and Life Sciences Sponsored by MNP

MNP invites you to attend an information session on the opportunities and benefits of the SR&ED program. This is your opportunity to join MNP to learn about the SR&ED program and the recent treatment of claim submissions by the CRA. This session will provide an overview of the program and help you understand how you can improve the net benefit to your company while meeting the compliance requirements in an efficient manner.

Neha Tiku, Partner, Specialty Tax Leader

Neha Tiku is the SR&ED Practice Leader for the GTA region of MNP. Located in MNP’s Markham office, Neha has over 20 years of experience providing tax solutions to her clients in the healthcare, life sciences & biotechnology, information technology, manufacturing, and food & beverage sectors.
Neha works closely consulting with clients at every stage of the process in order to make tax strategic recommendations and identifying potential SR&ED opportunities. Neha’s ability to resolve complex or unusual tax-related issues makes her an asset when structuring client SR&ED activities to maximize the R&D tax credits. Neha has been involved with claims in the hundreds of million dollar range for large public companies. Notably she has worked to amend prior SR&ED filings in order to secure her client double the cash refund as well as tax credits for future filings.
Neha graduated from McMaster University with a B.Sc.Hon. She is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and has completed Levels I, II and III of the CICA In-depth Tax Course, as well as the Advanced Tax courses for Corporate Reorganizations and Advanced International Tax. With an extensive portfolio of work ranging from roles as Director of Tax and Treasury for a multimillion dollar international software development company to owning her own SR&ED practice, Neha has distinguished herself as a leader in her industry.

Growing our Regional Economy | Introducing: The Atlantic Investment Bubble (Sponsored by Grant Thornton)

The Atlantic Investment Bubble is a collaborative concept with supporters recommending a regional Equity Tax Credit (ETC) allowing Atlantic Canadians to invest in a company outside of their home province within the Atlantic region and receive a tax credit.

Today, the four Atlantic provinces each have their own ETC program with varying degrees of tax credit available and, in some cases, limitations on the sectors available under the program.

In this panel session, we will hear from entrepreneurs, supporters and representatives from economic agencies across the region to discuss the importance of how a regional ETC will support strategies for attracting capital, recommendations for the future of ETC, and how the Atlantic Investment Bubble can work to fuel growth, create new jobs and support the startup community across all industries.

Keith MacIntyre, Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

Keith MacIntyre has expertise helping entrepreneurial clients in technology, health, and life sciences deal with intricate matters of tax, with an emphasis on incentives for fundraising.

As a partner in tax services with Grant Thornton LLP in Nova Scotia, Keith works to advance the interest of the investment community and support economic growth. Currently, he is one of several collaborators supporting and advocating for the concept of an Atlantic Investment Bubble recommending a regional equity tax credit (ETC) to support Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs.

Keith was also one of the lead authors on a report, “Modernizing the Equity Tax Credit”. The paper was co-presented by Grant Thornton, Cox & Palmer and BioNova to the Province of Nova Scotia providing recommendations to evolve the Nova Scotia equity tax credit to attract investment for Nova Scotia businesses.

In addition to his advocacy efforts, Keith’s experience encompasses complex tax analysis, business structuring, strategic planning, transactions and support for government incentives and grant programs. He assists clients thru the various stages of their business from start-up to growth to M&A, ensuring they reach their financial objectives. Keith is the former National leader of tax services for Grant Thornton in Canada.

Peter Hickey,  Executive Direct, IR Scientific Inc.

20+ years experience in the technology industry with extensive experience leading both established and start-up companies with a global focus. Peter has cofounded three companies in the life sciences sector.

Peter is Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Proteoform Scientific, a company whose platform solution is standardizing outsourced collaboration for biotech and biopharma through sample prep, mass spectrometry and data analytics.

Peter is also a co-founder and current executive director of IR Scientific, a biomaterials research and development company that’s developed a unique biomaterial that cures tooth sensitivity and repair enamel.

As the Cofounder and CEO of Adaptiiv Medical Technologies Inc., Peter led the company through the financing, development and regulatory clearance of the 3D Bolus solution, a turnkey, patented technology used clinically in 14 countries to date by leading centers that include Oxford University (UK), US Military Walter Reed, Kaiser Permanente, University of Chicago, and University of Indiana.

Peter serves on the Board of Directors at BioNova, an industry association that leads, accelerates, and advocates for the growing health and life sciences sector in Nova Scotia.

Peter holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s University and is a native of Prince Edward Island. Peter and his family live in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


The Honourable Colin Deacon, Senator – Nova Scotia

Senator Colin Deacon was appointed to represent Nova Scotia in the Senate of Canada in June 2018. A lifelong entrepreneur, he passionately believes that we must build a more inclusive economy if we want a more resilient economy. As a result, Senator Deacon believes that entrepreneurship is a tool to not  just enable economic empowerment in communities across our country, but to create positive social change. Recently, he is most focused on harnessing the digital economy, improving Canada’s public and private sector competitiveness, and incentivizing and empowering the private sector to aggressively address climate change.

Julia Rivard Dexter, CEO, Eyeread

Julia Rivard Dexter is an innovative tech entrepreneur focused on impact, one of the top 50 Canadian women in STEM, former Olympian and mother of 4.

Julia has founded and led several successful technology ventures, including as CEO of Google’s first North American premier GoogleApps partner.

Currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Eyeread, she leads one of the most innovative education technology companies in North America, which improves literacy for millions of kids through video games they love.

Julia has been honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and BMO’s Global Growth and Innovation Award and is a member of the Board of Nova Scotia Power.

Marc Savoie – Executive in Residence, East Valley Ventures

Marc is a dedicated advisor and angel investor with over 20 years of experience in product management, software development, and customer success. Marc holds a Bachelor of Science (Electrical Engineering) and a diploma in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship from the University of New Brunswick.

He started his career at Nortel first in Ottawa and then transferred to Boston where Marc was part of the leadership team responsible for delivering Nortel’s multi-service provider edge product family.

Marc and his family returned to New Brunswick in 2006 where he joined the Mariner team as one of the founding members of the product team which grew to over 100 people to support over 30 deployments to service providers worldwide. From 2013 to 2020, Marc served as president of Mariner’s software division. He also served as president of the Shift Energy business units from 2017 to 2018. Marc was also a board member for 6 years of Tutela Technologies, a crowdsourced data company with a global panel of over 300 million smartphone users which was acquired by comlinkdata in 2019. Marc is currently an active investor and advisor to technology start-ups focused on developing software products as well as an advisor to Mariner Partners.

Investing in Women in Leadership in Health & Life Sciences (Sponsored by MNP)

In 2020, 27 per cent of health and life sciences companies in Atlantic Canada were led by women, which was twice as high as other sectors. While the region’s health and life sciences sector is leading the pack, there continues to be a gender gap in leadership roles and in the attraction of equity capital for women-led startups. 

Our sector has the responsibility to better support diversity and inclusivity in both the workplace and overall ecosystem.  Join leaders from MNP and supporters in the community for an insightful and inspiring discussion surrounding the opportunities, programs, policies, and more that will support women in existing leadership roles and encourage more women to lead the sector.

Gayneté Jones , Founder & CEO, Best, Periodt

Gayneté Jones is a leading business consultant, keynote speaker, best-selling author, podcaster, contributor for Black Enterprise and founder and CEO of Best, Periodt. , a unique femcare brand changing the game.

Having studied the behaviors, fears and desires of consumers (millennials in particular), she is the go-to Freedom Slayer to assist this often misinterpreted generation to shine brightly, helping them to not just learn how to turn passions into profits, but also how to build sustainable businesses that solve real problems for customers. Even with Best, Periodt. she has made it her mission to create real, meaningful change for period havers around the world.

As a result of Gayneté’s efforts, she has been featured in the likes of Forbes, Fox, Shape Magazine, Today, Black Enterprise, Yahoo, NBC, MSN Money, Huffington Post, Refinery29, Thrive Global and  Success to name a few. She regularly serves thousands of ambitious women globally through her newsletter, trainings, podcast, programs and products.

Linda Plano, Principle, Plano and Simple

Linda Plano, PhD, is the Managing Director of Plano & Simple. She is dedicated to helping innovators to translate their complex value propositions into clear, concise, and compelling communications that build consensus and inspire investment. Her clientele includes over 1,000 high entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and other innovators all around the world who have gone on to raise over $1.3B.

Linda’s clients have innovations in virtually every market, including life sciences, cleantech, blockchain, services, materials, robotics, and others. She has worked with first time entrepreneurs spinning their innovations out of university and serial entrepreneurs raising tens of millions to scale their company. She has worked with investors to improve their pitches to other investors and to founders, as well as with salespeople, business development leaders and many others for their target audiences.

She has also had the privilege of coaching the participants in each year’s BioInnovation Challenge by BioNova since 2013. Based in Boston, Linda’s PhD is in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford and her BS is in Physics from MIT.

Bethany Deshpande, CEO, SomaDetect

Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of SomaDetect. She is a highly motivated, big-picture thinker who has more than a decade of experience in science and entrepreneurship, and is always excited to tackle big problems in big ways. SomaDetect was founded in 2016 with the mission of providing farmers with the information they need to make the best possible milk. The company’s core technology is an in-line sensor capable of monitoring reproductive status, health, and milk quality from individual cows. With Bethany’s leadership, the company has grown from 4 people working in a small apartment to now having a team of twenty-five members, monitoring thousands of cows every day and growing rapidly. SomaDetect was selected as the recipient of the Ag Innovation Showcase prize (St. Louis, 2017), one of the Canadian Innovation Exchange Top 20 companies (Toronto, 2017), Grand Prize winner of $1 M from Buffalo’s 43North Competition (Buffalo, 2018), Rabobank’s Foodbytes’ Judges Choice Award (NYC, 2018), and has major projects with AAFC’s AgriInnovation program and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. SomaDetect represents a major innovation in dairy technology, providing milk quality and health data to farmers when they need it most.

Rhiannon Davies, Founding and Managing Partner, Sandpiper Ventures

Rhiannon has created, acquired and led companies in Europe, Asia, South and North America, including as Founding Director and CEO of the GVSC B.V, which became a $2Billion revenue subsidiary of GrandVision N.V.. She was COO and Board Director, taking the $ 5.5 Billion revenue eyecare company with businesses in 45 countries, through a period of rapid growth expansion into 20 new markets through multiple acquisitions, JVs and organic growth, to a successful IPO on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. The GrandVision IPO ranked in the global top 10 IPOs in 2015. This was her second exit, following the acquisition of Royal Numico N.V. by Groupe Danone in 2007. Rhiannon serves/has served on multiple private, public, crown and NGO boards. As an active investor and mentor for early-stage technology companies, Rhiannon is motivated by the enormous untapped opportunity of investing in women and non-binary technology entrepreneurs as an underrepresented demographic that is overperforming.

BioInnovation Challenge (BIC)

The BioInnovation Challenge is a two-part event. Eight semi-finalists will present their live pitches on Nov. 3 to our judges. On Nov. 5, three finalists will then present their live pitches again for a chance to win a $55,000 prize package. BioPort attendees will be given the opportunity to vote along with the judges to determine the BIC 2021 winner.

BIC Semi-Finals Speaker 
Deanne McCarthy, CEO/Founder, Swiftsure Innovations

Deanne is founder and CEO of Swiftsure Innovations, bringing her experiences as a critical care nurse to develop medical a device geared toward a novel approach to providing oral hygiene in intensive care. Previously, Deanne completed a BBA from Memorial University of Newfoundland and held the role of Community Liaison Representative for a $300M PPP Hospital Development. As the CEO, Deanne has built an excellent team and advisory committee to support product development, regulatory, business development, and Swiftsure’s IP portfolio. Deanne is passionate about providing Registered Nurses with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively and is equally enthusiastic about improving outcomes for patients and reducing hospital costs.

BIC Judge
Jennifer Chan, Vice President, Policy and External Affairs, Merck Canada

Jennifer Chan is Vice President, Policy and External Affairs, at Merck Canada Inc. and is responsible for the company’s team of government relations and public affairs specialists. Prior to this role, she held the position of Vice President, Policy and Communications at Merck Canada since December 2011. A native of Montreal, Jennifer began her career in academic research before joining Schering-Plough in 1993 as a Clinical Research Associate.

Jennifer is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Health Economics in Alberta, as well as the Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery and the Quebec Network for Personalized Health Care. She is co-chair of the Canadian Biosimilars Forum and has served as a Merck for Mothers ambassador in Canada since the program was launched in 2011. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology and a Master of Science degree in pharmacology and therapeutics, both from McGill University in Montreal.

BIC Judge
Doris Grant, Senior Director, Innovation at Nova Scotia Health Authority

Doris Grant is the Senior Director of Innovation at Nova Scotia Health where she leads the team  focusing on transforming the health and health care of Nova Scotians through innovation-driven solutions.  The Innovation team, under Doris’ leadership, launched the newly established Strategic Partnership Office (SPO). Leading both business development and commercialization activities the SPO is the front door for innovative opportunities and partners that want to work with NS Health. The recent creation of the Innovation Launchpad has further catapulted NS Health’s ability to test, try, evaluate, and scale new solutions streamlining implementations for the benefit of patients, physicians and the health system. 

With over 20 years of business development experience, Doris’s career has focused on delivering impactful research and commercial partnerships with industry, entrepreneurs, government, researchers and clinicians. Before joining NS Health, Doris lead both the commercialization and industry engagement activities for the life and health science sectors at Dalhousie’s Industry Liaison and Innovation office. Prior to Dalhousie, Doris spent several years in the business development and the intellectual property departments at Biogen in Boston MA.     Doris has a BSc (Agr.)and MSc (Agr.) from Dalhousie University.  

BIC Judge
Jennifer Hamilton, PhD, Senior Director, New Ventures (Canada) and Advisor, Impact Investing, J&J Global Community Impact

Jennifer is the innovation scout for J&J Innovation in Canada and seeks novel technologies in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer products. Prior to working with J&J, Jennifer had roles in venture capital. Jennifer has an MSc and a PhD in Experimental Pathology/Lipid Metabolism from the University of British Columbia and a BSc from the University of Guelph.