Speakers and Moderators

David Adams, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Workforce Development

David Adams has been appointed the new commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Adams was executive director of the Indiana Public Retirement System between 2005 and 2007.

Since 2017, he has served as the chief innovation officer at the University of Cincinnati, where he is the leader of the Cincinnati Innovation District, which connects the university to global, mid-sized and small companies with a focus on growing, attracting, and retaining talent. The innovation district became the model for the state of Ohio and was instrumental in securing $20 billion Intel investments, including the development of the future workforce.

Adams has extensive experience in industry, higher education, and public service. He also was chief administrative officer at the University of Louisville and served as the CEO of the Institute of Product Realization.

He was a founding member of the Enlace Academy in Indianapolis and is a member of the board of directors of the Purdue Research Foundation. He is also a board member of REDI Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and CincyTech.

Adams is a graduate of the Speed Scientific School of Engineering at the University of Louisville and has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in industrial engineering.

Joel Adams, Senior Innovation Advisor, Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada

Looking to draw the most out of your government funding opportunities? Take advice from someone who’s been there, and has taught entrepreneurship and innovation to engineering students for 20 years.

Joel has over two decades of experience in education, entrepreneurship, and executive leadership. He is a founding partner of a startup incubator and community hub in London, Ontario and established three different innovation centres across southwestern Ontario as the Executive Director of Western University’s Research Parks. Joel has worked in many leading industries, including automotive, where he created the world’s first autonomous RV.

His cumulative economic impact supporting businesses surpasses $1 Billion and his efforts have been recognized with an Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Builder award from Startup Canada. He has a wide network of contacts and is well positioned to connect you with the right government levers to see your business grow.

Chris Albinson, President & CEO, Communitech

Chris Albinson is the President & CEO of Communitech, & Co-Founder & Managing Director of BreakawayGrowth Fund. Albinson has been an early investor in companies that have created $45bn+ in value including Pinterest, Docusign, Newbridge Networks & Juniper Networks.

Katherine Albion, Executive Director, Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park

Dr. Katherine Albion is the Executive Director of the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.  Dr. Albion attracts and supports the creation of new businesses in emerging technology sectors, resulting in new opportunities for research, commercialization and innovation at the Research Park and in the Sarnia-Lambton region.  She joined the Research Park in 2008, as the Commercialization and Research Engineer.  In 2012, Katherine became the Director of the Research Park’s Commercialization Centre, and was responsible for Canada’s largest clean-tech incubator focused on industrial technology, including fuels, products, and processes.  

Katherine is a graduate of Western University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemical and Environmental Engineering, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering.

Maydianne Andrade, PhD, FRCGS, University Professor Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough

Professor Maydianne Andrade is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), a former Canada Research Chair in Integrative Behavioural Ecology, and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) and of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS).  Professor Andrade received her B.Sc  from Simon Fraser (1992), her M.Sc. in Zoology at University of Toronto Mississauga (1995) and her Ph.D in Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University (2000).  

Professor Andrade is an internationally recognized expert on sexual selection, mating behaviour, and the biology and ecology of black widow spiders. She uses these species to examine how populations are shaped by variable ecological and social conditions via fitness effects on reproductive traits. Over the course of her career, she has developed the widow spiders from curiosities into a model taxon for studies of behavioural ecology and evolution, while mentoring graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and hundreds of undergraduates in a rigorous but inclusive lab environment. Her research is featured in textbooks on Biology, Evolution, and Behavioural Ecology from high school to senior undergraduate levels. Among other awards, Professor Andrade has been recognized with the Lawrence J. Burpee medal for outstanding achievement (RCGS), the Pitelka Award for research excellence (International Society for Behavioral Ecology), and the Exemplar Award for sustained contributions to the field of Animal Behavior (ABS).   

Professor Andrade’s scholarly focus includes knowledge translation supporting the implementation of principles of equity in academia, for which she received the Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize from the University of Toronto alumni association (2021). In 2016, she founded (and co-chairs) the Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence (TIDE). This multi-disciplinary group of faculty provides data-informed talks, workshops, and advising on issues related to bias and inclusion in the academic career arc, using a research-informed modular format that she created. To support introductory equity education at scale, Professor Andrade authored, narrated, and co-created animated modules for faculty and staff, with broad uptake within the University of Toronto, and more recently at other higher education institutions.  Her expertise in empirical research and in equity has led to her engagement with two bodies that provide non-partisan analyses to support public policy decisions. She is an elected international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is an appointee to the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Council of Canadian Academies. 

Professor Andrade is a co-founder (2020) and inaugural President of the Canadian Black Scientists Network, a new, national-level professional society that supports Black-identifying researchers, practitioners, educators, and their Allies from across STEM disciplines and sectors. She was lead organizer of the network’s first national virtual conference (2022), which attracted 1,500 registrants and closing remarks from the Prime Minister of Canada. Within the University of Toronto, Professor Andrade has served as Special Advisor to the Dean, Vice Dean Faculty Affairs and Equity and as Acting Vice-Principal Academic and Dean at UTSC. She was part of the development team for the University of Toronto’s Black Research Network (BRN), an Institutional Strategic Initiative for which she now serves on the steering committee. The BRN connects researchers across the University with a common goal of promoting and enhancing the scholarly work of Black researchers, and others working on issues of relevance to Black communities.   

Professor Andrade was named a Professor of the Year by the UTSC undergraduate newspaper (2015). She is regularly interviewed about her research in the popular press, including by the New York Times, National Geographic, PBS, and CBC radio’s Quirks and Quarks, among other outlets. Most recently, her public engagements have included CBC Radio’s Ideas (2020), and the well-respected CBC documentary series ‘The Nature of Things’ where she provided arachnology expertise (The Great Wild Indoors, 2017) and acted as a guest host (First Animals, 2019).  Finally, starting at the outset of the pandemic, she hosted a well-received podcast with a focus on equity and social action (The New Normal, 2020, 2021).  

Andrew Arifuzzaman, PhD, Chief Administrative Officer, University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus

Andrew Arifuzzaman has held progressively senior leadership roles across the academic and health sectors in some of Canada’s most prestigious organizations. He has spent much of his career fostering partnerships to create local benefits such as the creation of the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC). Currently Andrew acts as the Chief Administrative Officer at the University of Toronto Scarborough where he’s headed the development of the Campus’ Strategic and Master Plans and brand strategy. In addition to his role at the University, Andrew is the Chair of the Board for Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre and serves as a strategic advisor for the Toronto Zoo and Youthlinks.

Sacha Babic, Partner, Gowling WLG

Sacha Babic is a corporate-commercial lawyer and partner at Gowling WLG. He is a member of the senior management team with the firm’s Hamilton, Ontario office, serving as department head of the Corporate, Real Estate & Lending Practice Groups.

He advises a wide variety private sector clients on matters of corporate-commercial law, while also acting for a number of public and quasi-public institutions (including universities, school boards and hydro utility companies), regularly advising such clients on matters involving both traditional legal issues and unique sector-specific challenges.

With close to ties to Hamilton's research-intensive institutions and thriving innovation ecosystem, Sacha works with innovators across an array of industries. He is dedicated to bridging the gap between research and commercialization and helping his clients take their innovative ideas and research to market.

Rich Boling, Vice President, Redwire Corporation

Richard Boling, is vice president of corporate advancement at Redwire’s In Space Manufacturing and Operations business unit. In this role, Rich leads business development efforts for the company’s biotechnology and materials science portfolio. With its acquisition of Techshot last November, Redwire’s catalog of commercially operated in-space research and manufacturing equipment is now among the most comprehensive in the industry. Its payloads have flown aboard parabolic flight aircraft, sub-orbital rockets, space shuttles, Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicles, SpaceX Dragon cargo and crew vehicles, and the International Space Station. Before joining the company in 2000, Boling started his career at a large public relations agency, serving clients such as the Regional Airport Authority of Louisville, Kentucky, and UPS Airlines. Rich earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication from Indiana University Southeast.

Katy Boren, President & CEO, Oklahoma City's Innovation District

As president and CEO of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District, Katy Boren spearheads the creation and development of the emerging district and is focused on creating a vibrant, fully-integrated community where people can live, work and play. Her goal is to develop collaboration between Oklahoma’s diverse sectors – bio science, aerospace, tech, energy, manufacturing and more – to foster new opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. 

After earning her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from the University of Denver, Boren pursued a law degree at the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, she served a one-year courtship for the Arizona Superior Court before returning to Oklahoma. Boren has practiced oil and gas litigation, served as the vice president of regulatory affairs for Cox Communications for the eastern half of the country, owned her own law firm and acted as the chief of the Utilities Regulation Unit for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. 

An Oklahoma native, Boren is passionate about supporting nonprofits in Oklahoma City and has served on several boards. Boren currently serves on the Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership Board of Directors, NEOKC Renaissance Board of Directors, Oklahoma Contemporary Board of Trustees, Harold Hamm Diabetes Center Advisory Board, the State of Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board, and is a member of Oklahoma Women in Tech and Downtown Rotary. She volunteers with Restore OKC and Martin Luther King Jr. elementary school in NEOKC. She has been recognized as one of Oklahoma’s Ladies in the News, a Rising Star of Oklahoma, one of the Journal Record’s Woman of the Year – Fifty Make a Difference honorees as well as the Journal Record’s list of the Most Innovative Women, and one of The Friday Paper’s Oklahoma City’s Most Powerful Women.

Jonathan Bramson, PhD, Triumvira

Dr. Jonathan Bramson founded Triumvira Immunologics, Inc., along with his post-doctoral Fellow, Dr. Christopher Helsen, in 2015. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and the Vice Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University. He holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Translational Cancer Immunology and the John Bienestock Chair in Molecular Medicine. As an immunologist who has been researching novel cancer immune-oncology strategies since 1994, Dr. Bramson’s lab is focused on developing methods to direct cancer patients’ immune systems to attack their tumors. To this end, the lab has been developing novel methods to engineer T cells to attack cancer and designing vaccines based on recombinant viruses to boost immunity against specific tumor antigens. The Bramson lab works closely with clinical partners at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton to optimally develop these exciting new immune strategies to address unmet needs of the cancer community in Southern Ontario. Together, Dr. Bramson and his colleagues have established an infrastructure at McMaster, which includes GMP production and GLP correlative assays, for conducting clinical trials of novel immune-oncology therapies that are unparalleled in Canada. Dr. Bramson received his Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine in 1994 from McGill University.

Eric Burak, PhD, Fusion Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Burak has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical research and development experience in both biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies. Before joining Fusion, he was Vice President of Development at Theracos Inc., where he was responsible for all research, clinical development and manufacturing activities for a company developing drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes. Previous positions include Vice President of Preclinical and Early Clinical Development at Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a venture-funded antibiotic company, and Director of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics at Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Burak’s experience has focused on integrating discovery and development processes to accelerate the identification and development of new therapeutic agents. He has submitted 14 Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs) and has developed two approved products across multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, cardiovascular, antibiotics, diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, anesthesia/sedation, diabetes, and wound healing.

Dr. Burak holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Temple University and a BSc in Chemistry from Drexel University.

Leah Burton, President, AURP; Director of Centennial Campus Partnership Office, NC State University

Leah manages the Office of Partnerships strategy for corporate and government interactions with NC State. This includes management of partnerships on the university’s award-winning Centennial Campus. Leah has a proven track record of building broad-based and sustainable industry-university partnerships and she has a passion for the value created when a successful collaboration is bro- kered. She currently serves on the boards for AURP and the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. Leah holds her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado.

Kevin Byrne, MBA, Past President, AURP; President & CEO, The University Financing Foundation

Kevin Byrne spent his early career at Arthur Andersen with a primary focus in the real estate and financial services industries. In 1997, Kevin founded Byrne & Associates, which focused on providing investment-banking services to small and middle market companies. After earning his MBA with honors from the Wharton School of Business in 2001, he joined a real estate development firm as the Chief Financial Officer, managing a balance sheet of over $200 million and leading new transactions of over $150 million in just two years. 

In 2003, he joined The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) and has managed all aspects of the firm including the firm’s new investments in education and research projects, which total over $800 million. Kevin oversees the operations of the firm and, through his leadership, the firm has become involved in all aspects of research park creation and ongoing operations including the development of facilities. He has crafted full-scale park business plans, assisted in the strategic and master planning of research parks and has helped several global parks with the creation of innovative investment structures enabling these parks to maximize the efficiency of their limited resources. Kevin is an honors graduate from Furman University and currently serves as a past president of the Association of University Research Parks.

Merry Hunter Caudle, Associate Director of Economic Development, Georgia Institute of Technology

In support of city, state, and regional economic development efforts, Merry Hunter Caudle identifies and aligns higher education resources and capabilities to support the recruitment of new companies and overall industry expansion in Metro Atlanta and Georgia. She also supports the continued growth of Georgia Tech’s innovation ecosystem model in Tech Square and surrounding areas, including the development and acceleration of co-located corporate labs.

She previously served as Education Policy Advisor, responsible for early childhood, K-12, and higher education policy, as well as Deputy Director of Communications for former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Merry Hunter holds a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech, a MA in Communications with a research emphasis on crisis rhetoric in higher education from Georgia State University, and a MBA from Georgia Tech. She is a member of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2020, the Zell Miller Leadership Institute Class of 2019, the Alliance Theatre External Advisory Board, and is an active community volunteer with the Junior League of Atlanta. Most recently, Merry Hunter received the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) Rising Star Award in 2020.

Russell Chernoff, Architect AIBC, OAA, AA, NSAA, AAPEI, AIA, MRAIC, Chernoff Thompson Architects

Russell Chernoff has been a pioneer in designing facilities for biotechnology starting in the early 1990’s and has since expanded to an extensive portfolio of complex science facilities including several animal research facilities, life sciences, biosciences, chemistry, particle/nuclear physics, computer research, astronautics/aeronautics, astronomy, veterinary medicine, aquatic/marine research, metal free clean rooms, GMP manufacturing, horticulture, ecology, and anatomy.

Russell is considered as one of the leaders in Advanced Educational Facility design and Laboratory design within the industry throughout North America. He has produced highly flexible and cost effective high performance buildings that can economically and quickly respond to the dynamic and changing needs throughout the life of a building. 

Steve Condrin, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Real Estate, Washington University in St. Louis

Irena Creed, PhD, Vice President for Research, University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus

Professor Irena Creed was appointed Vice-Principal Research and Innovation of the University of Toronto Scarborough in July of 2021. Irena was the former Associate Vice-President Research at the University of Saskatchewan. She also remains an adjunct professor at University of Saskatchewan and Western University. She also holds adjunct appointments at the University of Guelph and the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health. 

Irena's research team, together with collaborators from government, industry and an international network of scientists, study the impacts of global change (climate change, atmospheric pollution, and land use/land cover change) on ecosystem structure, function and services. 

Her work has been recognized with many awards and honours, including receiving an honorary doctorate from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden, being inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2019, and receiving the Bancroft Award from the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding publication, instruction, and research in the earth sciences that have contributed to public understanding and appreciation. 

Irena completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Toronto. Irena graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with a minor in Botany. She then went on to pursue a Master of Science in Botany and Environmental Sciences, and finally, a PhD in Geography. Irena completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta where she studied forest management strategies and their impacts on surrounding ecosystems.

Peter Cuthbert, Partner, Strategy & Consulting Group, Colliers

Peter has more than 35 years of experience within the commercial real estate investment industry in Canada. 

He is a Partner in Colliers Strategy & Consulting Group and with his Team he is focussed on value creation for clients at both the asset and portfolio levels.  

His multi-disciplinary background includes hands on experience with real estate fund management and structuring, real estate investment platform design and implementation, risk management, capital fundraising, asset management, development, real estate finance, appraisal, workouts, leasing, acquisitions and dispositions. 

Over the course of his career he has been personally involved in the finance, valuation, management and investment of more than $9 billion worth of commercial real estate. Over the most recent 16 years he developed and evolved two successful real estate investment management businesses.  At various points in his career he has had success working in the institutional, public markets, brokerage, and private sector environments and as such has a broad perspective of the real estate industry.

After spending 8 years leading and building the Fiera Real Estate investment Management platform and business to $6 billion in assets under management he has joined Colliers, Strategy & Consulting Group as a Partner.

Brian Darmody, Chief Strategy Officer, AURP

Brian Darmody leads AURP initiatives including expanding membership, international partnerships and funding in order to build out additional member benefits. Prior to joining AURP, Brian served as Associate Vice President (AVP) of Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland (UMD). At UMD, Brian  was responsible for developing the overall university strategy for corporate relationships, as well as the development of projects and policies to support these initiatives centrally and through the colleges and schools on campus of the University of Maryland.

Previously, he was the University’s AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Division of University Relations, AVP for Research and Economic Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Development, Director of State and Federal Relations in the President’s Office and has served in the university’s legal counsel office. He serves on national and state boards, including: Fraunhofer USA, the Maryland Economic Development Association, and the Maryland Tech Council.

He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Andrew Duffell, President, The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

Duffell’s international background and multiple economic development roles have shaped his forward-thinking and problem-solving approach regarding the development of South Florida’s economy using technology as a catalyst. Since becoming president & CEO of the Research Park at FAU in 2011 the Research Park’s contribution to the region’s economy has surged, largely due to the repositioning efforts Duffell has implemented. The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Under Duffell’s leadership it has become known as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies and is a valuable asset in the region’s economic development efforts.

Duffell’s personal achievements include being named the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year and being honored as a South Florida Business Journal Ultimate CEO, both in 2017, as well as a 2015 Palm Beach Ultimate CEO by the South Florida Business Journal and being recognized in January 2015 as a “40 Under 40 Rising Star in Economic Development” by Development Counsellors International (DCI) at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Leadership Summit. Currently Duffell serves on the boards of directors for the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, Florida Economic Development Council and the Children’s Home Society of Florida, as well as other advisory boards related to economic development.In 2000 he was conferred the degree of Master of Arts (Hons) in European Studies by the University of Aberdeen and in 2015 earned a master of business administration (MBA) from Florida Atlantic University.

Daniel Duncan, Immediate Past President, AURP; Executive Director, Nebraska Innovation Campus, University of Nebraska

Dan Duncan began his tenure with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987 when he accepted the positions of operations manager at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, NE. Following that position, he served as director of the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center; assistant director of the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station; and assistant dean and director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Research Division. In 2011, Dan moved into his current position as executive director of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation.

Duncan was born on a diversified farm and ranch in Sioux County, Nebraska. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a MS in Agricultural Economics-Agribusiness, and BS in Animal Science and Agronomy all from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a LEAD VII Fellow and member of the Nebraska Hall of Ag Achievement and the Agricultural Builders of Nebraska.

Don Duval, CEO, NORCAT

Don has spent more than two decades leading, growing, and transforming organizations and businesses, working with multinational companies, tech start-ups, academic / research institutions, governments and clients around the world. As CEO of NORCAT, he has transformed the organization to become a global, multi-faceted enterprise focused on providing programs, services and resources to prepare current and future workers and tech entrepreneurs with the right skills, competencies, and confidence to succeed.  Don is also the founder and co-managing partner of the Sudbury Catalyst Fund, a unique $5M co-investment seed capital venture fund based in Sudbury, Ontario.

Previously, Don served as EVP of Strategy / Operations for the MaRS Discovery District and an Investment Director with MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund.  He’s an active angel investor and holds a variety of Board positions.  Academically he holds an undergraduate degree from Queen’s University, Masters of Applied Science / Engineering from the University of Toronto, and has the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Matt EnsticeChief Executive Officer, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Matt is the President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc., a pioneering organization that has become a powerful engine of revitalization in Buffalo. Matt is focused on the intersection of energy, entrepreneurship & technology, and how it will drive the new economy in Buffalo and beyond. Matt has led the non-profit organization since its formation in 2002 to address shared issues among Campus institutions. Today, Matt oversees a team focusing on diverse, interrelated initiatives designed to lift the entire community including those in transportation, access and safety; energy, entrepreneurship, health & active living, infrastructure, economic opportunity, and youth & education. Under Matt’s leadership, foundations, private enterprises, research labs, local community leaders, hospitals, and educational institutions are collaborating to create a model for re-energizing the city that has applications all over America. Prior to returning home to Buffalo, Matt worked in the entertainment industry in L.A. and New York, for Broadway Pictures and with Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live. He is currently active on the boards of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation. Matt also serves as a commission member on the U.S. Commission on Transportation Sector Efficiency, part of the Alliance to Save Energy; and on the Advisory Boards for Niagara University, Daemen College, and the School of Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation in New York City. Matt is married and lives in Buffalo with his family.

Amber French, Managing Partner, Co-founder, Catalyst Capital Inc & Co-founder, Archangel Network of Funds

Amber has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo and has extensive experience in private capital placement and a passion for working with entrepreneurs.

Randal Froebelius, Project Executive and Senior Advisor, MaRS Discovery District

As a member of the senior leader team at MaRS responsible for property operations, leasing and construction, Randal has been involved with MaRS since the opening of MaRS Phase 1 in 2005. He oversaw the launch of MaRS Phase 2 in 2008, and is the lead on the new MaRS/University of Toronto venture at Menkes’ Waterfront Innovation Centre on Toronto’s Waterfront. He also serves on the board of the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology in Sudbury, Ontario. Randal is a seasoned real estate professional with over 30 years of experience in property management, leasing, project management and construction. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering Science (Civil) degree from the University of Western Ontario, an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, a Master of Laws from the University of Toronto and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario. He is also a licensed condominium manager in the Province of Ontario. Randal has held progressive positions with construction, real estate development and management companies throughout his career. Past roles include project management positions at EllisDon and PCL, Regional Manager for Toronto for Beutel Goodman Real Estate Group and Vice-President of Commercial Operations for Kolter Property Company. In 2004 Randal founded Equity ICI Real Estate Services, a mid-sized property management firm based in Toronto, Canada. Randal is a member of the BOMA International Executive Committee and is Chair of the BOMA International Floor Measurement Standards Committee. Randal is a Past-Chair of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Canada and BOMA Toronto. Since 2016 Randal has participated on several BOMA China Building Assessment Report teams that have audited buildings in China in pursuit of the Certificate of Excellence designation, including Shanghai Tower.

Nina Gazzola, SVP MaRS Hubs

Nina Gazzola is responsible for MaRS Centre operations, with a special focus on tenant satisfaction. She also oversees leasing.
Nina was the first employee of MaRS, joining in March 2000. Previously, Nina worked in special projects for the Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and for the Dean of Students at Wilfrid Laurier University. Nina holds a BA in Political Science and Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario and is a member of BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association).

Will Germain, CEO & Managing Partner, MCB Science + Health

Mr. Germain has senior responsibility for executing on the overall strategy of the Company. His responsibilities include sourcing and originations investment opportunities, oversight of underwriting and due diligence, transaction structuring and execution, development project management, operations and asset management. 

Prior to co-founding MCB Science & Health, Mr. Germain served as Senior Investment Officer, Investments for Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company and real estate investment trust that owns and manages healthcare, life science, MOB and senior living properties in North America and the United Kingdom. 

As a former member of the Ventas senior leadership team, Germain was responsible for investments within the growing university, life science, research and innovation center portfolio, the Company’s #1 capital priority. Since inception, Germain helped grow this portfolio to over $4 billion and over 7MM SF through acquisitions and developments. Responsible for originating, negotiating and executing acquisitions and development opportunities, Germain has been involved in more than $20 billion completed real estate transactions during his tenure at Ventas. 

Germain is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), a dynamic network of university research park and innovation district industry leaders. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s University Development and Innovation Council. Germain is a member of the Real Estate Executives Council (REEC). He served as a member of the Board of Phase 1 Ventures (P1V) from 2016 to 2022, a program from the Philadelphia Science Center which matches proven entrepreneurs with academic scientists to help move ideas from the lab to the marketplace by strategically contributing expertise and funding to the commercialization process. He also served as a Steering Committee member for the Global Institute on Innovation Districts (GIID) from 2019 to 2022. He serves as Vice President of the Board of High Jump, a non-profit organization that aims to equalize access to education for Chicago middle school students who have exhibited academic ambition and potential and who are of limited economic means.

Tom Henning, President & CEO, Assurity Life Group

Tom is a corporate board member, investor, business consultant and former financial services executive. For over 38 years, Tom has been the Chief Executive Officer of a bank or insurance company. For the past 27 years, Tom has been President & CEO of Assurity Life Group and its subsidiaries. His special interests are strategic planning, investment management and fostering innovation.

Kate Hier, AIA, NCARB, WELL, AP, Principal, Architect, Laboratory Planner, Clark & Enersen

Kate Hier is a Principal and Architect at Clark & Enersen. She is passionate about inspiring others through the design of beautiful spaces, and crafting architecture to be a tool for discovery, connection, learning, and healing. As a leader of the firm’s science and technology market sector, she specializes in the design of higher education and science & technology facilities and has led design on numerous high-profile projects at universities, research parks, and medical education centers across the nation. Her focus lies at the intersection of process, visioning for the future, and design excellence.

Jeff Johnson, MBA, Director Tech Centre Research Park, Virginia Tech, Blacksberg Virginia

Jeff Johnson joined the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, in January 2014 as Director of Tech Center Research Park located in Newport News, Virginia. Jeff is responsible for establishing and leading the research and innovation portion of the 100-acre, $450 million mixed used Tech Center based on the internationally acclaimed Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. Jeff identifies, vets, recruits, and supports technology-based companies that are focused on commercialization discovery and growing business that matter. He has also worked with hundreds of federal labs principal investigators and inventors to accelerate lab to market and commercialize innovation.

Jeff has a strong record in executive leadership with extensive experience in competitive analysis and positioning, strategic marketing and branding, business organizational development, manufacturing management, strategic planning, and predictive analytics. Jeff has worked with several national and international brands. Jeff has over 20 years of corporate experience and has held director and senior-level executive leadership positions with profit and loss responsibilities at global industry leading companies in automotive tires and building material finishes.

Jeff advises early-stage entrepreneurs and innovative high growth firms. In 2009, he founded his own consulting company, Averitas, to help small and medium sized businesses profitably grow. Prior to that, he was Founding CEO and Executive Director of an innovative healthcare-based workforce training program for adults, and an arts-based education program for high school students.

As a certified Six Sigma Champion Trainer, Jeff also holds an Executive M.B.A. from Tulane University, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Jeff also serves on a number of boards and advisory committees within the region they include 757 Accelerate, Virginia is for Entrepreneurs (VA4E), Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT), Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (VPCC), WiGL Power, Nasoni, LLC, and Friends of Jefferson Lab Steering Committee, StartWheel, Association of University and Research Parks (AURP), and Greater Peninsula Now, Inc..

Matt Johnson, Senior Vice President, National Life & Science Practice Group, Colliers

Throughout my career, I have been passionate about the development of real estate strategies and helping significant organizations optimize their facilities.  Each entity that we advise is unique, and our strategies are tailored to meet the business and operational requirements of each individual client.  We understand our clients have unique facility and property needs, and we have developed extensive technical knowledge as a result. 

Working with many organizations in the med-tech and life sciences field, as well as prominent charitable and insitutional organizations with sensitive populations  - we prioritize understanding the busines and operational needs of our clients and the needs of their clients.  We understand that the people whom drive the success and productivity of our client organizations are their most important assets.  Our strategies are built to ensure that our clients' people thrive and enjoy their work environments.

I have had the privilege to work with talented people at leading organizations in various sectors including:  Think Research ,Synaptive Medical, eSight, Perimeter Medical Imaging, Ronald McDonald House, Plan International Canada, Unifor, Toronto Lands Corporation, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Durham Catholic District School Board, Durham District School Board, Toronto United Church Council, and many others.  My team's diverse experience with occupiers in both the private and public sector provides me with a broad perspective built upon an extensive foundation of real estate knowledge, allowing me to deliver the highest level of service to my clients. 

Amna Khan, Trade Commissioner, Global Affairs Canada

Greg King, Associate Vice President for Economic Development, Georgia Tech, Tech Square ATL

Greg King is the Associate Vice President for Economic Development at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Each day he works with companies to establish successful partnerships and meaningful relationships with campus to support their business and innovation plans. Within Technology Square and other campus innovation areas he works to enhance the alignment and access to research, education programs and technology development important to economic development and growing communities of innovation.

Daniel Kolundzic, Partner, Business Development & Strategy Blue Cardinal Capital; Vice President, North America Nanos Research

Daniel Kolundzic is Vice President (North America) at Nanos Research Corporation as well as Partner | Business Development & Strategy with Blue Cardinal Capital, and President of Blue Cardinal Canada. Dan is responsible for cultivating and executing business and engagement opportunities for both organizations.

Prior to joining Nanos Research and Blue Cardinal Capital, Dan served 15 years with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade at the Consulate General of Canada in Buffalo, New York. With responsibilities for the states of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, he managed a wide range of political and economic files pertaining to the Canada-U.S. relationship. Dan also served as senior policy advisor to the Ontario Associate Minister for Enterprise, Opportunity & Innovation. As such, he provided executive level policy analysis and advice on the full range of Ministry responsibilities including trade, investment, economic development and innovation (science & technology) strategies, planning and implementation. While he is presently completing the requirements for a PhD in Political Philosophy from Boston College, Dan has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo and Brock University, teaching in the areas of bi-national regionalism, globalization and economic development, and Canada – U.S. Relations.

Erin Koshut, Vice President, AURP, Executive Director, Cummings Research Park

Erin Koshut is the Executive Director of Cummings Research Park (CRP) in Huntsville, Alabama. With 300 companies situated over more than 3,800 acres and The Engine of Economic Development employing 26,500 employees, CRP is the second largest research park in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world. Erin is responsible for managing and marketing CRP, and for providing a business environment that is conducive to growing existing industry and recruiting new industry into the Park. In her role as CRP Director, Erin continues to lead the implementation of the 2016 comprehensive master plan that ensures another 50 successful years for CRP. Partnering with stakeholders and community leaders, Erin is working to transform the culture in the Park and create a vibrant environment where employees connect, work, live, learn, and play. Erin is a certified Business Incubation Manager. 

Don Kranbuehl, FAIA, Principal, Clark Nexsen

Don is an award-winning architect with over 22 years of experience in academic and science and technology project types. He has led the design for a variety of projects which have won over 25 AIA awards including two national AIA awards and three Chicago Athenaeum design awards. Don, a Professor of Practice at NC State, teaches graduate design studios and he lectures frequently about architectural design and has been invited to speak at numerous regional and national conferences. Don is a graduate of Duke University and received a master’s in Architecture from Virginia Tech.

Jay Krishnan, CEO, Accelerator Centre

Jay Krishnan is a globally successful entrepreneur, investor, an innovation ecosystem builder, and Chief Executive Officer of the Accelerator Centre.

An executive leader with over 20 years of experience , Jay boats an impressive resume of international success. With experience spanning the venture capital space, entrepreneurship and product development and management, Jay knows firsthand what it takes to turn a good idea into a great one and to grow a company from a startup to a globally competitive business.

Having been involved in the founding stages of 3 startups himself, he has experienced the full startup lifecycle - from failure to success- spanning seeding, raising capital, scaling and exit; with one company ultimately acquired by a multi-national conglomerate. Prior to his entrepreneurial journey, Jay donned product management and product engineering hats at global multinationals including Cisco, Juniper and Cantata- Dialogic/ Intel in the US and India.

Jay has a keen business acumen, a passion for working with innovative entrepreneurs, and desire to build thriving innovation communities. Before joining the AC, Jay was a General Partner at Mantra Capital, an early-stage US-domiciled VC firm. Prior to Mantra, Jay was the first CEO at T- Hub, India’s largest startup incubation & accelerator center.

As a testament to Jay’s visionary leadership, he is the recipient of numerous international awards and publications that include CleanTech Open, ICSPAT, TechConnect, Make a Difference, StartMeUp and Red Herring.

Jay earned his Executive General Management from The Indian Institute of Management (IIMB, Bangalore, India), hisBachelors in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University (Bangalore, India) and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hartford (Connecticut, USA).

Debra Lam, Founding Executive Director, Partnership for Inclusive Innovation

Debra Lam is the Founding Executive Director for Partnership for Inclusive Innovation. Prior to this, she served as Pittsburgh's first Chief of Innovation & Performance where she oversaw all technology, sustainability, performance and innovation functions of city government. Prior to that, she was a management consultant at a global engineering and design firm, Arup. She has been the recipient of various awards, including one of the top 100 most influential people in digital government by Apolitcal. She has worked and lived in the UK, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and University of California, Berkeley.

Ryan Lilly, Program Manager, Global Ventures at the Research Park at FAU

Ryan has helped 1,500+ entrepreneurs one-on-one and another 5,000+ in workshops in three U.S. states over the last twelve years. He has worked with both traditional small businesses and technology startups while in university-run incubators, city government, chambers of commerce, and various economic development organizations.

Previous to Global Ventures, Ryan served as Vice President of the Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership in Ocala, Florida for nine years. There he oversaw an incubator and entrepreneurship initiatives throughout the Ocala Metro area. Ryan’s background also includes launching incubators in Illinois and in his home state of Virginia.

A passionate speaker, Ryan has shared his ideas at over 50 local, state, and national conferences related to entrepreneurship, economic development, and the emerging field of entrepreneur ecosystem building.

Ryan earned a B.S. in management from Virginia Tech with a concentration in entrepreneurship and holds a certificate in serial innovation from the University of Illinois as well as a certificate in Business Incubator Management from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).

He has trained with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Entrepreneurship (RUPRI), and The Kauffman Foundation. Ryan is a 1 Million Cups Chapter founder and a certified Kauffman FastTrac facilitator.

Daniel Lucenti, Senior Associate, Ayers Saint Gross

Daniel has ten years of experience in a variety of project types, including higher education, commercial, mixed- use, and innovation districts. He is responsible for the production, management, and coordination of technical documents for projects from the design phase through construction. He has recently been implementing buildings on our two recently completed innovation campuses in the Northwest United States.

Charlie Lutz, Architect, HOK

Caitlin MacGregor, CEO & Co-founder, Plum

Caitlin MacGregor is the CEO/Co-founder of Plum, the most accurate top-of-the-funnel employment assessment. Plum is a SaaS hiring solution that uses cutting-edge behavioral science and analytics to match Job Seekers to an Employer’s unique role and company culture. Plum is Caitlin’s 3rd startup. She was Employee #1/Director of Operations for Me to We Style in Toronto and President of goQ software in New Hampshire. Caitlin was selected by Springboard Enterprises in NYC as one of the top 10 businesses led by women. In October 2014, she was also recognized by Google for Entrepreneurs Blackbox Connect program in San Francisco. Plum graduated from Communitech Hyperdrive and the Accelerator Centre. They are winners of the 43North Buffalo Pitch Competitionand the 2015 Gold Stevie Award for Best New Product or Service of the Year – Software – Human Capital Management Solution. Caitlin has raised almost $2 million of investment to fuel Plum’s growth.

Allison Madden, Corporate Secretary, University of South Florida Research Foundation, Inc. 

Allison Madden is director of operations for the University of South Florida Research Foundation in Tampa, and also serves in the officer position of secretary of the USF Research Foundation, Inc. The Research Foundation is a non-profit, direct-support organization serving the research mission of the University of South Florida. Allison is responsible for corporate governance, strategic planning, and all areas of USF Research Park operations including planning, construction, vendor and client relations, and compliance. The Research Park is a vital component of USF’s Innovation Enterprise which infuses $582 million yearly into Florida’s economy, sustains more than 4,000 public and private sector jobs, and returns more than $71 million in tax revenue to local, state and federal coffers.

Allison joined USF in 1988 and has also served as chief financial officer and business manager for the USF Research Foundation. She earned a MBA with focus on management and BS with honors in information systems and decision sciences, both from USF. She is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies.

Sam Marrazzo, Chief Innovation Officer, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

As Chief Innovation Officer of the BNMC, Sam Marrazzo’s focus is looking to the future. With a focus on driving economic opportunity that will position local companies for future growth, as well as to retain and attract young people to the area, Sam leads BNMC efforts to develop an innovative, reliable and secure information technology environment throughout the organization and the community. 

He is responsible for developing innovation strategy and fostering collaboration with industry, education and start-ups in order to help local organizations prepare for, and capitalize on, current and future technologies. Through his role at the BNMC, Sam is helping local companies re-think their business practices and corporate cultures in order to optimize their position as innovation and technology bring significant changes throughout the economy.    

Sam has had a broad career working in accounting and supply chain systems, logistics, sales, and transportation. His career includes over 25 years in multiple informational technology IT roles and has worked at a number of Fortune 200 companies including Praxair, Avnet, and McGraw Hill. His varied roles have included IT Management and Strategy, project management, architecture consulting and development practices. He has been a guest lecturer on technology for the University at Buffalo and has been instrumental in attracting and organizing technology-focused events to the area including the 2017 TopCoder Open and various hackathons and gaming competitions. 

Sam is an adjunct professor at the University of Buffalo in the MIS department where he teaches applied Product Management concepts to master level students. 

Sam holds a BA degree in Business Systems from the Daemen ​College ​and an​ MBA from ​State ​University ​of New York ​at Buffalo School of Management. He also served 4 years in the United States Navy. He is a founder and mentor in countless startups. He currently is a board member of InfoTech WNY.

Drew Martin, AIA, NCARB, Director of Design Visualization, Design Manager, Strang, Inc.

As an architect, Drew finds great joy in developing creative responses to a variety of client needs. He incorporates progressive design strategies into his client-focused design process to ensure that each solution appropriately and distinctively addresses the project’s specific requirements. Furthermore, as Strang’s Director of Design Visualization, Drew ensures that every design is communicated in a cohesive and coherent manner, using a variety of media to convey complex ideas intuitively, from initial diagrams and construction details to artistic renderings and virtual reality.

Travis McCready, Executive Director, US Life Sciences Market, JLL

Travis McCready is the National Practice Leader for JLL’s North American life sciences real estate markets practice, working closely with life sciences companies, developers, and investors. He has over 25 years of experience leading public, private, and non-profit ventures with a focus on technology and innovation-based companies. The former President & CEO of the $1.6 billion life sciences funding agency Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Travis remains active in the health care and life sciences community by serving as director and scientific advisor to a broad range of efforts, ranging from infant microbiome and advanced biomanufacturing, to health equity and public health translational research. He serves in an advisory capacity on initiatives at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, and Johns Hopkins, and he also serves on the boards of public media giant WGBH and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Travis has served on the Economic Development Planning Council under three Massachusetts governors and has been appointed to state and national initiatives ranging from the arts to advanced manufacturing.

Brian McIlroy, President, Blue Cardinal Innovations

Dr. Brian McIlroy is an accomplished executive leader with more that 25 years’ experience in multiple arenas. He currently serves as our President of Blue Cardinal Innovations and brings his research operational experience to the team helping guide and develop the overall strategy of the Blue Cardinal Team. 

Dr McIlroy has diverse experience in a range of different areas, he has successfully been involved in startups and the entrepreneurial realm, large fortune 500 companies and Innovation & economic development.  

Dr McIlroy began his career by leveraging technical background in photochemistry and photobiology to set a cancer clinic in North Carolina where along with 3 physician friends brought state of the art cancer therapy to the area. This technology leveraged light activated pharmaceutical to create local destruction of tissue. Dr McIlroy then joined Light Sciences in Seattle, Washington, he grew the technical aspect of the company and ended up leading the global clinical development of a new Age related Macular Degeneration treatment. During his tenure he was part of the team that raised $87M in series A financing and split the company into three distinct therapeutic areas. On leaving Light Science he joined GE Research, he grew an effort in Bioinstrumentation and ended up leading a global team of more than 80 with a research budget of >$45M supporting 5 GE business units. Dr McIlroy was promoted to lead the licensing efforts for Healthcare technology, utilizing the 25,000 articles of IP.  The scope of his role grew to lead all aspects of Licensing for GE for North and South America. 

Dr McIlroy relocated to Buffalo NY in 2016 to lead part of the NY Governors Buffalo Billion Project residing within the University at Buffalo.  He successfully turned around a failing project and refocused the initiative to achieve the goal of 500 new jobs. Since then, he has been involved in a licensing deal from Roswell Park Cancer Center, to create a Cell Therapy company.  This company secured $37M in venture funding and began to grow operations in WNY.  The company has subsequently moved to Chicago with the founders.  Dr McIlroy is VP Operations and Research for a small startup medical device firm that was a former winner of 43North. The company is currently seeking financing to take their product through commercialization to market. 

The broad aspect of Dr McIlroy’s experience is a clear asset to Blue Cardinal. He Currently resides in Western New York with his wife Kathryn and his two girls.  He holds a PhD from the University College London, and a bachelors from The University of St Andrews Scotland.

Norah McRae, PhD, Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education, University of Waterloo

Norah McRae, PhD, is the Associate Provost for Co-operative and Experiential Education and an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Through her involvement in co-operative education, work-integrated learning (WIL) and community engagement she has led strategic program development and research on the development of a quality WIL framework, student engagement, work-integrated learning, indigenous WIL and intercultural competency development. Dr. McRae has received awards for her work from Canadian (CEWIL 2012, 2014, 2016; CBIE 2020), American (CEIA 2020) and world associations (WACE 2017). Dr. McRae has 25+ publications including in the International Handbook for Co-operative and Work-Integrated Education, the International Journal for Work-Integrated Learning and the CEIA Journal.

Aaron Miscenich, Executive Director, [email protected] Research and Technology Park

Aaron has worked with companies from the concept stage all the way through growth and maturity. On the economic development side, he has managed efforts that have created a knowledge-based economy in Louisiana through public and private funding including federal, state, and local sources, public/private partnerships, and straight development capital.

Josh Mitchell, Managing Director, Real Estate, University of Toronto

Experienced real estate professional specialized in structuring large scale, mixed-use developments in Toronto & NYC, including office, retail, residential, life sciences, and innovation districts.

David Muir, PhD, Associate Vice President Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, Western University

David Muir is the Associate Vice-President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, at Western University. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from Western, where his doctoral research focused on synthetic organic chemistry. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in natural product chemistry at the University of Alberta.

David came to Western from the National Research Council, where he was Director of Research and Development for the Automotive and Surface Transportation portfolio in London. David previously spent 20 years in a series of progressive roles at 3M Canada, including in R&D, and in business management positions in the food and medical sectors.

Derek Newton, Associate Vice President, Innovation, Partnerships & Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto

Derek Newton is the Assistant Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship at the Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) which helps build successful partnerships between industry and the U of T research community and also manages the university's portfolio of intellectual property. Derek has held previous senior roles at Western University, where he served as Director (Acting) of the Office of Research Development and Services and the Office of Research Ethics. He has also worked at a large biotechnology funding organization and a boutique consultancy specializing in biotechnology. He holds two degrees in biochemistry and a PhD from U of T in biomedical research and is multi-published in peer-reviewed journals. His combination of academic and professional experience has helped him build strong relationships with researchers and the private sector.

Vinit Nijhawan, Managing Director, MassVenture

Vinit Nijhawan is a strategic visionary who has conceived and built several technology organizations that have been acquired by companies such as Boeing, Motorola and Qualcomm. He is an admired leader and mentor who has built or inherited and then effectively managed several high-performance teams. He has worked in many industries: computing, aerospace, logistics, supply chain, manufacturing, telecommunications, medical devices, biopharma, synthetic biology, advanced materials, etc. Vinit is an empathetic and collaborative team member and stays connected with all his past supervisors, mentors and many of his former employees and students.

In 2008, Vinit intentionally pivoted his career from technology entrepreneur and CEO, to helping other entrepreneurs with a special focus on academia. He began teaching Entrepreneurship at Boston University and subsequently led the Office of Technology Development from 2010-2016 (he published a peer reviewed paper on that experience: Maximize Collisions, Minimize Friction). In this role, Vinit participated in several BU committees and organizations, such as the BUildLab, Faculty Innovation Network, Conflict of Interest 

Committee, Coulter Translational Program, Fraunhofer Grants, CTSI and on the board of the National Academy of Inventors. Additionally, he has represented BU on several boards and business plan/grant review panels.

Subsequently, Vinit took the OTD experience and launched a national academic IP monetization program with 40 institutions engaged, including UC Berkeley and UCLA. He launched Waterloo Alumni Angels at his alma mater. Most recently, Vinit is the Managing Director of MassVentures.

Laura O'Blenis, President & CEO, Stiletto: Make a Point

Laura O’Blenis is the founder of Stiletto and Co-Founder and former Managing Director of the Canadian Association of University Research Parks. With more than two decades of experience in economic development and working with post-secondary institutions, Ms. O’Blenis and her team develops strategies that get results for workforce and broader economic development impacts for communities throughout North America. A skilled consensus builder, O’Blenis has facilitated more than 700 strategy sessions in communities globally. Specializing in innovation ecosystem building, innovation districts, research and technology parks, and innovation hubs, she has travelled the world to study global trends and best practices that have been applied to Stiletto processes and strategies. She was awarded the Startup Canada Female Entrepreneur of the Year for Atlantic Canada in 2016, was a finalist for Businessperson of the Year for the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce in 2018, is the recipient of the 2019 NBCC Alumni Award and was most recently recognized as one of the top 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada (2022).

Tom Osha, Senior Vice President, Wexford Science & Technology

Tom is employed by Wexford Science + Technology as an Executive Vice President. In this role, he guides Wexford's implementation of its Knowledge Community strategy across their development stakeholders globally to position Wexford's research park developments as critical hubs in the regional innovation ecosystem.

Tom is an engaging speaker who has recently delivered keynotes on creating innovation ecosystems and helping Universities, research institutions, cities, regions, and federal governments, leverage their research and technologies into knowledge-led economic development, at the Associated of University Research Parks, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Research Administration, and the NATO Industry Summit. He has also appeared on CNBC, CBC, CNN, and CBS and his opinions have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, The Globe and Mail, and The New York Times, among others.

Additionally, Tom serves as an innovation advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - Canada; helping Canadian companies successfully expand their operations into the United States and assisting US companies in developing Canadian partnerships and markets. He also serves as an advisor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on global innovation, and the Bookings Institution for Innovation District research and measurement

Previously, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Broadwing Inc., an NYSE-listed, telecommunications provider, providing executive leadership in the areas of corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and innovation.

Prior to that, he served as Special Assistant to United States Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), providing advice on foreign policy issues. Tom also provided policy advice to the Reagan Administration and developed a research methodology that has become a standard at Congressional Quarterly magazine.

Mike Pereira, Manager, David Johnston R+T Park, University of Waterloo

Over the past ten years Mike has developed expertise in marketing, communications, and partnerships, working with organizations ranging from global enterprise to tech startups and nonprofits.

Prior to joining the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo, he was with the Accelerator Centre located in the park, helping startup tech companies develop and grow. In addition to managing the R+T Park, Mike is very involved with the community, supporting the Waterloo Region Family Network, Junior Achievement, FLASH Waterloo Region, the KitchenerWaterloo Community Foundation, and other community initiatives.

Mike Roberts, Chief Scientist, International Space Station National Lab

Mike Roberts, PhD is the acting Chief Scientist and Vice President at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS), the non-profit that manages the International Space Station National Laboratory in partnership with NASA. Before joining CASIS in 2013, Michael worked as a principal investigator and research group lead in the NASA Advanced Life Support program at the Kennedy Space Center. Prior to arriving at NASA-KSC in 1999, Michael completed an undergraduate degree in biology at Maryville College, a doctorate in microbiology at Wesleyan University and post-doctoral research at the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University and the RIKEN Institute in Wako-shi, Japan.

Mark Romney, Chief Strategy Officer, UC Davis Aggie Square

Mark Romney joined the University of California, Davis in 1991 and currently serves as the Director of Research Development & Industry Alliances for UC Davis Health (comprised of the Medical Center, School of Medicine and School of Nursing and Practice Management Board). Mark has over 27 years of leadership experience in higher education master planning, with an emphasis in research and industry planning and development initiatives. Mark is often called on by UC Davis schools and colleges to advise on master planning and programming of research facilities. Mark also serves as the primary negotiator and facilitator for industry partner colocations on the Sacramento campus providing the vital connection point between university administrators and corporate executives.

Mark is a highly sought after thought leader in the field of public, private and university partnerships. He is invited to share his expertise across the nation and internationally presenting at conferences including San Francisco’s Bay-Bio, AURP Bio-Parks (2017), Urban Land Institute (ULI), U.S. Embassy in Beijing China on topics such as Managing Risk/Leveraging Opportunities, The Rise of Medical Centers as “Innovation Districts.” Mark also served as host and closing speaker at the U.S. Department of Commerce SelectUSA Advance Tour Event (2017) hosting scientific collaboration discussions and providing the keynote presentation of the proposed UC Davis Aggie Square to the U.S. Embassy, Beijing Commercial Services officers and a delegation of senior representatives from over 25 Chinese life sciences, real estate development and real estate investment companies. The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commercial Services Division.

Shann Rushing, AIA, Principal, Clark Nexsen

Shann has focused his career on the design, management, and construction of higher education and civic projects. His design leadership has been instrumental in creating places that advance the mission and identity of those institutions. His projects have garnered recognition for design and innovation from the AIA and he has spoken at numerous conferences for SCUP, AIA, and the USGBC. He was the senior design architect for NC State’s Fitts-Woolard Hall, an engineering building on Cen- tennial Campus and holds a bachelor of Architecture and Environmental Design from NC State.

Ty Shattuck, CEO, McMaster Innovation Park

Ty is the CEO of McMaster Innovation Park, Canada’s Premier Research Park, where companies come to grow. Prior to joining the MIP team, Ty held various senior leadership positions within the digital media, aerospace, and venture capital industries, including Founder and President of Aethon Technologies, CEO of PV Labs, and Vice President at L3Haris – Wescam.

Ty is well known within the GTHA area for his business acumen and community leadership. In 2010, he was awarded “Engineer of the Year” from The Ontario Society for Professional Engineers. In 2011, as CEO of PV Labs, he led the company toward being named one of “Canada’s Top 200 Fastest Growing Companies” by Profit Magazine, and in 2012 they received an Academy Award under his leadership. Ty has a Bachelor of Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada, and an MBA from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Sheila Singh, PhD, The Sheila Singh Lab

Dr. Sheila Singh is a professor of surgery and biochemistry, chief pediatric neurosurgeon at McMaster Children’s Hospital, Division Head of Neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences, and inaugural director of the new Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research (CDCR) at McMaster University. She holds a Tier 1/ Senior Canada Research Chair in Human Brain Cancer Stem Cell Biology, and is the founding Director of the McMaster Surgeon Scientist Program. Her PhD thesis described the novel identification of a population of cancer stem cells that exclusively drive the formation of brain tumours. Since 2007, Dr. Singh's lab applies a developmental neurobiology framework to the study of brain tumorigenesis. Building upon previous cell culture techniques developed for the isolation of normal neural stem cells (NSC) and applying them to brain tumours, and through development of a xenograft model to efficiently study brain tumour initiating cell (BTIC) activity, Dr.  Singh's lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern BTIC self- renewal. Dr. Singh is currently studying the regulation of BTIC signaling pathways in glioblastoma, brain metastases and childhood medulloblastoma, with an ultimate goal of selectively targeting the BTIC with appropriately tailored drug and molecular therapies. Her laboratory is funded by CCSRI, CIHR, TFRI, CRS, the Stem Cell Network, McMaster Surgical Associates, Brain Canada and the Boris Family Fund. She is scientific founder and prior CEO of a start-up company, Empirica Therapeutics, a brain cancer therapeutics company that is seeking new, data-driven and polytherapeutic treatment options for patients with Glioblastoma and brain metastases. Empirica was acquired by Century Therapeutics Inc (Philadelphia) in June 2020, resulting in the creation of a Canadian subsidiary, Century Canada, based in the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton. 

Jeff Smith, Director of the University Corporate Research Park, Michigan State University

Jeff Smith is Director of the University Corporate Research Park UCRP at MSU Foundation. In this role, Jeff manages and directs the real estate and economic development opportunities on behalf of the MSU Foundation. This includes development and construction within the Research Park system, and management of Research Park facilities, the VanCamp Incubator and Research Labs, and the Technology Innovation Center. His goal continues to focus on leveraging university, corporate research, and community technologies toward commercialization and expansion of the marketplace.

Jeff currently or previously served as an advisory board member for the Lansing Regional Chamber, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation Advisory Board for Redevelopment Ready Communities, the Capital Area IT Council, Prima Civitas Foundation, Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan, and the Capitol Collective.

Jeff has also served as an adjunct lecturer at both Baker College and Michigan State University, teaching classes in economic development at both institutions. Jeff is a proud graduate of Michigan State University, earning both a Bachelors in telecommunications and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Jeff, his wife, and three children live in East Lansing and are proud to call the Lansing area home.

Kenny Smith, Senior Principal, Integral Group

Kenny is focused on driving change towards zero carbon buildings and communities which are truly integrated in design and construction.  He looks beyond the traditional to implement cost-effective and commercially viable solutions which better the overall building performance and lessen the emissions. Over the past 16 years, he has worked in a multitude of climates, sectors, and different applications originally stemming from mechanical systems but now with a focus on integrating sustainability and analytics.  Kenny is a licensed Engineer in Ontario and Chartered Engineer in the United Kingdom.  He also applies himself in education, assisting in teaching at Ryerson’s School of Architecture, University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture, and the Academy of Sustainable Innovation.

Sam Stark, Co-founder & CEO, Green Project Technologies

After graduating Williams College, Sam worked at Goldman Sachs in their energy and sustainability groups. His focus was on helping Goldman achieve their net-zero commitment in their supply chain as well as their private investments. Sam quickly noticed the need for Goldman’s suppliers and vendors as well as portfolio companies to have a supplemental software to aid them on their climate and ESG journey. As a result, he started Green Project Technologies to help decarbonize supply chains and improve ESG data transparency in the private markets.

Kyria Stephens, Director of Inclusion & Community Initiatives, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Kyria is the Director of Inclusion and Community Initiatives at the BNMC and through his role he helps foster a collaborative and inclusive organization. His goal is to allow the BNMC to become an example for diversity and inclusion for other businesses and organizations throughout Buffalo and across the country. Prior to working at the BNMC, Kyria was the district manager of Blue Wireless. Also while working, Kyria is a hard-working volunteer for many organizations and businesses and a youth advocate. Kyria is a Buffalo native, attending City Honors School then graduating from both ECC and Buffalo State College. He resides in Buffalo with his wife and three children.

David Tyndall, CEO & President, Collaborative Real Estate

David Tyndall is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Collaborative Real Estate, a full-service real estate firm specializing in innovation districts and university research parks. Working for over 35 years in construction and development, moving from field engineer to company owner, Tyndall has learned firsthand what it takes to produce quality buildings.

His experience in university-based research and commercialization facilities, plus past experience as a real estate attorney, venture investor, and being in commercial construction, give him unique insight into the needs of technology-related landlords, property managers, and tenants.

George Ward, Executive Director, Coldstream Research Campus, University of Kentucky

George Ward leads the University of Kentucky’s economic development activities and oversees development at the Coldstream Research Campus. He is also the President of Kentucky Technology, Inc., a company that assists high-tech entrepreneurs by providing business guidance and real estate assistance. George interacts regularly with state and local economic development and entrepreneurial ecosystems to grow companies and well-paying jobs in Central Kentucky.

George believes much of his success is due to the entrepreneurial philosophies he has practiced throughout his career and the business experience he gained from his years in the hospitality industry. 

Pat Whalen, Director, Niagara Global Tourism Institute

A serial entrepreneur who has started over 20 businesses in a variety of industries, Patrick Whalen is the Director of the Niagara Global Tourism Institute (NGTI), as well as the interim President & CEO of the Canadian American Border Trade Alliance. Before joining the NGTI, Pat served for 8 years as the COO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. (BNMC). In addition to managing the BNMC day-to-day operations Pat was the BNMC’s unofficial “entrepreneur–in-residence" working to foster collaboration & job creation on campus and throughout the bi-national region.

Among the businesses Pat started is Fulfillment Systems International (FSI), a technology driven international logistics services provider. FSI grew from a 1-person start-up in '85 to a firm with over 200 employees in 5 locations in Canada, Europe, and the USA before being sold to UPS in 2000. It is now part of UPS Supply Chain Solutions.
He has served on a countless number of boards, including as a board and executive committee member of the Association of University Research Parks from 2014 to 2017.

Wayne Whiting, AIA, ICC, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Architect, Strang, Inc.

Wayne has over 35 years of comprehensive architectural experience and has led many of Strang’s most complex science and technology projects. His project experience includes a range of building types including STEM facilities, analytical/diagnostic testing laboratories, vivarium, research laboratories, commercial, and mixed use. Wayne focuses on the key operational and process features of a project, how equipment and engineered systems support the project, and the client’s expectations for delivering the project. His work ethic and attention to detail is demonstrated with an integrated and passionate approach for each project.

Sharon Whitney, Vice President, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co

Sharon Whitney is a Vice President with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Sharon joined Whiting-Turner after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from The University of Delaware in 1998. In her 24-year career at Whiting-Turner, she has lead projects in the science and technology, higher-ed, secondary-ed, hospitality, and entertainment industries. In 2021, Sharon also began serving as Chair for Whiting-Turner’s National Diversity and Inclusion Council. Sharon is married with two children. She is a Board Member with Maryland Humanities board, member of the Columbia (MD) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and of Leadership Howard County.

Martin Yuill, Executive Director, Cleantech Common Trent University

Gay Yuyitung, Executive Director, McMaster Industry Liaison Office

Gay Yuyitung is the Executive Director at the McMaster's Industry Liaison Office (MILO) and acting Director for The Forge. MILO supports faculty, staff, and students at McMaster and the affiliated hospitals in working with companies for sponsored research contracts and in the commercialization of their research. The Forge is McMaster’s business incubator, providing support to students and the Hamilton community interested in entrepreneurship and accelerating the growth of their start-up. Gay has experience in negotiating license agreements to transfer technology from the university to both large multinationals, as well as small and medium sized enterprises. Gay has also represented the university on the board and provided management support for several McMaster start-ups and not-for-profit organizations, including ProSensus, Turnstone Biologicals, and Triumvira, as well as the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC). She assists faculty and companies with obtaining government grants or seed investments to support commercialization. Prior to joining MILO, she has had experience with marketing at MDS Nordion and price reimbursement at Eli Lilly. Gay has her PhD in chemistry from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from McMaster.