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The SPARK II Symposium

This is our 2nd annual SPARK Symposium designed to showcase excellent Canadian Ag-Tech and Green-Tech companies who are seeking to expand their businesses and add new product lines!

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Full Agenda

For the printable/PDF version of the Agenda click here.

11:30 am – Buffet lunch is served.

12:15 pm – Welcome by Emcee, Dr. Deb Stark, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Ontario; Board member of CAPI, and an Investor with Golden Triangle Angel Network.

 Welcome and introduction from Deborah Whale, 1St Vice President of Grand River Agricultural Society.

 Greetings from The Honourable Rob Black, Senator (Ontario)

12:30 pm – Keynote Speaker: Andrea Gruza, Managing Partner with Bonnefield Inc, speaking on Agriculture as an Asset Class.

12:45 pm – Company 1 – MYCIONICS
The world’s first robotic mushroom harvesting system. It picks, trims, weighs and packs and also checks product quality and consistency. This is perfect technology for an agricultural sector with a diminishing workforce.

1:00 pm – Questions

BDT has developed a naturally engineered bioresin technology offering biobased binders, resins and sealants for challenges in key markets such as packaging, agriculture, land reclamation and mining. The company has its first manufacturing plant making product in Cambridge.

1:20 pm – Questions

1:25 pm – Break

1:35 pm – Company 3 – VIVID MACHINES
The two co-founders have developed spectral imaging and computer vision systems to revolutionize the fruit supply chain. Vivid Machines makes orchards significantly more profitable by predicting per-plant metrics for accurate farm interventions which can maximize yields and sends yield predictions to packers and retailers to align supply and demand.

1:50 pm – Questions

1:55 pm – Company 4 – DAIRY DISTILLERY
They utilize a unique technology to distill its products (Vodkow, cream liqueurs and hand sanitizer) from a waste product created by cheese and ultra-filtered milk production. Dairy Distillery will next be distilling Ethanol from waste for a large dairy processing company.

2:10 pm – Questions

2:15 pm – Company 5 – EQ CELL INC
They are developing regenerative medicines using stem cells to treat osteoarthritis and damaged joint cartilage in horses and dogs along with tendon and ligament repair. Studies on equine, canine and human stem cells are pursued in parallel which could lead to novel therapies and specifically designed therapeutics.

2:30 pm – Questions

2:35 pm – Final Speaker: Jay Bradshaw, former President of Syngenta Canada and a Managing Principal of Ag Capital Canada will talk about Ag-Tech and Green-Tech as meaningful and powerful Investment opportunities.

2:50 pm – Closing comments from Emcee, Dr. Deb Stark

3:00 pm – MEET AND GREET – Networking Opportunity
Chat with the presenting companies and check out their informational booths. Beverages and light snacks are available.

Our Speakers

Dr. Deb Stark

Former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Ontario; Board member of CAPI, and an Investor with Golden Triangle Angel Network

Deb calls herself a leader and a learner with a lifelong interest in Canadian agriculture and the people who feed us.  She is a former Deputy Minister of OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) and Chief Veterinary Officer for Ontario.

She spends her time volunteering and sitting on boards including the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the University of Guelph (currently Vice Chair), Ontario Genomics (currently Chair) and most recently, the Golden Triangle Angel Network.

The Hon. Rob Black, Senator (Ontario)

The Honourable Rob Black has worked in the rural, agricultural, and leadership arenas for much of his working career. He has had close involvement in 4-H and other leadership programs, such as Junior Farmers and the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP). He credits his involvement in these programs with allowing him to develop the skills that would lead him to apply to be a senator. He has been involved in 4-H for almost 50 years in all aspects of the program, at the local, provincial and national levels and is a Past President of the Canadian 4-H Council.

Read more about Honourable Rob Black here:  

Deborah Whale

1st Vice President, Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS)

As 1st Vice President of the GRAS board, Deborah has spent considerable time working on behalf of Research and Development in the world of agriculture. She has been past Chair of the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario, the Poultry Industry Council, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, Saskatchewan, and the Board of the University of Alberta Poultry Research Centre. Her interest in technology also turned to the world of energy and as VP of Clovermead Farms, supporting the installation of one of the first biogas facilities on a farm in Ontario.

Keynote Speaker: Andrea Gruza

Managing Partner with Bonnefield Inc.

Andrea leads the Capital Markets team at Bonnefield with responsibility for investor relations and fundraising across all Bonnefield products. Additionally, Andrea has responsibility for Bonnefield’s sustainability and ESG activities and new product development, and is a member of Bonnefield’s Investment Committees.

Andrea is a former investment banker with experience in mergers and acquisitions across multiple industry groups including agriculture, mining and financial institutions. Prior to investment banking, Andrea worked for Risk Management Solutions, the global leader in catastrophe risk modelling where she advised U.K., E.U., and Asian clients in the insurance and reinsurance industries.

View Andrea’s PowerPoint here.

Tess O’Mara

Director of Partnerships at Vivid Machines

Tess O’Mara is the Director of Partnerships at Vivid Machines.  She completed her B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering and started her career as a consultant in the natural resource sector.  After working abroad, she completed a MA in International Development and worked for various Canadian organizations in Latin America and Africa where she became very interested in agriculture and sustainability.  Tess is a lifelong learner and is passionate about the intersection of technology and agriculture, and how it can be used to make farming more profitable and sustainable, to help solve food security globally.

Please contact Tess directly for more information on her PowerPoint.

Michael Curry

CEO of Mycionics

Michael joined Mycionics as CEO in 2019 to lead the commercialization of the world’s first robotic mushroom harvesting system. His operational and investment career has been focused specifically on the intersection of environment, agriculture and healthy food production. Michael has been an owner, director and now venture partner with InvestEco Capital since 2002, investing in private North American companies that promote health and sustainability in the food and agriculture sector. Prior to Mycionics, he invested in and operated an automated greenhouse company producing micro and leafy greens, selling to all major retailers across Canada. Michael was raised on a farm in southern Ontario and graduated in Geography at McGill before beginning his career in the reforestation industry.

Please contact Micheal directly for more information on his PowerPoint.

Dr. Tyler Whale

Partner and Senior VP of Business Development for BioDiffusion Technologies Inc.

Tyler’s experience is in agriculture, academia, technology, commercialization, entrepreneurship and network development. He was raised on a dairy farm and went on to earn his Ph.D. in immunology and an MBA in Biotechnology Development. He was the founder of three companies and as the Past President of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, he assisted many innovative emerging Canadian agritech companies to grow and commercialize.

View Tyler’s PowerPoint here.

Omid McDonald

Founder and CEO of Dairy Distillery Inc.

Omid is an experienced technology entrepreneur. He founded VMI Medical, producing software for America’s leading pediatric hospitals. He also founded the mobile tech company Simbit, whose embedded software is shipped in millions of phones worldwide. Each of these companies was eventually acquired and generated positive returns for investors. Omid is now the Founder and CEO of Dairy Distillery which turns a waste product from the dairy industry (permeate) into Vodkow, cream liqueurs and even hand sanitizer, but his next exciting product is his story today.

View Omid’s PowerPoint here.

Thomas Koch

Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Scientific Officer of eQ Cell Inc.

The company’s CEO, Dr. Thomas Koch, is a founding member of the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association and the Immediate Past Chair. He is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, from which he obtained his Ph.D. in the area of equine stem cells.

Dr. Koch was the first to report the presence of stem cells within the umbilical cord blood of newborn foals. Dr. Koch’s research focus for the past 15 years has been on how these and other stem cells can be utilized to treat joint pain and damaged joint cartilage. Studies on equine, canine and human stem cells, joint cartilage and synovial joint health are pursued in parallel, along with tendon and ligament repair, and the regulatory roles of microRNA.

Read more about Thomas and eQ Cell Inc. here:

View Thomas’s PowerPoint here.

Closing Speaker: Jay Bradshaw

Former President of Syngenta Canada and a Managing Principal of Ag Capital Canada

Jay retired in June 2018 as President of Syngenta Canada Inc. During his 36 years in the Canadian agriculture industry, Jay forged many long-lasting relationships with agricultural networks across Canada which he maintains today.

Jay’s Board experience includes: Chair and Director of CropLife Canada, CleanFarms Canada, Cereals Canada, ROI (Rural Ontario Institute) and the Ontario 4H Foundation.

Read more about Jay here:

View Jay’s PowerPoint here.

Thank you for joining us!