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Tuesday, October 6, 2020 (7:30 AM - 7:00 PM) (GMT-7)

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Howard Chao (Host and Principal at Doon Capital)

Howard Chao

Host and Principal at Doon Capital

Howard Chao is an investor, lawyer and counselor to entrepreneurs. He began his work life as a corporate lawyer with O'Melveny & Myers and for many years was the Chair of the Firm's Asia Practice. He helped establish the firm's offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and practiced for many years as a cross-border investment specialist based in Asia. Since 2001 Howard has been based in Silicon Valley, but continued to dedicate substantial time covering the Asia markets.

In recent years Howard has moved to the principal side of investing and deal-making. Howard actively makes angel and other VC investments in earlier stage companies through his personal vehicle, Doon Capital, usually in collaboration with other investors. He maintains close working relationships with various VC and PE funds. Howard invests primarily in startups located in the Silicon Valley and China. Because of Howard's extensive experience with Asia, many of his deals have an Asian (particularly Chinese) nexus.

Howard also maintains an active strategic consulting practice. Howard's extensive experience with investment and financing transactions in both the US and China leads him to advise and assist various clients in both places. His transactions span many different sectors, and include multinationals, financial investors and startup companies.

Chris Abbott (CGC Ventures)

Chris Abbott

CGC Ventures

Chris joined the CGC Ventures team in 2018. Previously, Chris led Craig-Hallum Capital Group’s investment banking group efforts focused on sustainability, agriculture and agtech. Prior to Craig-Hallum, Chris worked at Piper Jaffray & Co. and AWJ Capital Partners, focused broadly on technology, sustainability, healthcare and consumer companies. He also currently serves on the Boards of CGCV companies. Chris loves to compete in triathlons, basketball and tennis. He is an avid supporter of Inner City Tennis and charity: water.

Adhithi Aji (Co-Founder of Adrich)

Adhithi Aji

Co-Founder of Adrich

Adhithi Aji has a background in product management and has been part of R&D teams in automotive and telecom industries where she was instrumental in commercializing cutting-edge research technologies. She took her passion for technology and most recently founded Adrich, an IOT consumer insights company that helps brands and retailers better understand consumer needs with product usage data. She holds a Masters in Innovation Management from Carnegie Mellon and an MBA specializing in supply chain management.

Paimun Amini (Director of Venture Investments at Bayer)

Paimun Amini

Director of Venture Investments at Bayer

As the Director of Venture Investments for Bayer’s Leaps team, PJ drives the development and execution of a broad partnership strategy that accelerates Bayer’s innovation in the Food & Ag space. Coming from a scientific background and the frontlines of digital innovation, PJ and his colleagues have filtered through hundreds of companies with the potential to have a major impact on the future of agriculture and our food supply moving the focus of Agriculture from simply producing MORE to producing BETTER. Growth stage agnostic (Seed – Series C), the Leaps organization facilitates investments, partnerships, and collaborations between emerging companies and the broader Bayer enterprise. PJ joined Bayer Crop Science in 2011 and has held various leadership roles across the R&D and IT organizations; prior to which he was conducting research for the USDA. PJ has both a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

James F. Apostol (Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Pacific Pension & Investment Institute)

James F. Apostol

Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Pacific Pension & Investment Institute

James Apostol is vice president and chief operating officer for the Pacific Pension & Investment Institute (PPI), an educational nonprofit that convenes institutional investors for thought leadership and knowledge sharing. PPI member organizations represent 25+ trillion USD in assets under management and impact the prosperity and security of beneficiaries today and for future generations. James is the former deputy director of Harvard Law School’s Program on International Financial Systems. He received degrees from Boston University and Harvard and was a visiting fellow at the Center for Corporate Governance and Climate Change at the University of Chile, Santiago.

Jamie Bacher (Co-Founder & CEO of Boost Biomes)

Jamie Bacher

Co-Founder & CEO of Boost Biomes

Jamie has been at a number of biotech startups over a dozen years, as well as large companies working closely with startups. He co-founded Boost Biomes to continue his efforts to bring together novel technologies and amazing people to solve big problems - in this case, food security and sustainability. He previously founded Pareto Biotechnologies, a synthetic biology company, to enable bioproduction of an undervalued class of chemicals. He secured initial funding to launch the company and closed the company's proof of concept partnership. Prior to Pareto, Jamie joined Total, the French energy company, to commercialize alternative energies. He co-lead Total's $100M R&D collaboration with Amyris, to produce fuel molecules using genetically engineered yeast. He was previously at Sapphire Energy, a leading algae biofuels start-up company, where he founded and lead a technical group that developed technology and infrastructure that was used broadly in the discovery efforts, and was incorporated into a $15M R&D collaboration. Jamie led whole-cell optimization at Rincon Pharmaceuticals, including a key contribution to achieve a company funding milestone, worth $1M to the company. His postdoctoral training was at The Scripps Research Institute and at Maxygen; his PhD is from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ted Barber (Director of Open Innovation at Danone)

Ted Barber

Director of Open Innovation at Danone

Ted Barber recently joined Danone North America as Director of Open Innovation. He is a global product leader with thirty years of experience bringing world-class products and services to the market for Fortune 500 companies.

His adventure includes nine years at the global innovation firm IDEO. From 2001 to 2004, he was tasked with building and leading the product development team as Head Of Engineering for IDEO Munich. He is a master of IDEO's user-centered design process. He has extensive experience in the disruptive value of Design Thinking and the power of multidisciplinary teams to bring meaningful innovation to the market.

Before joining Danone, Ted used his innovation experience to build and lead advanced development teams at W.L Gore and Associates, Pearl Izumi, and Product Solution Lab. He graduated from Santa Clara University as a Mechanical Engineer, and started his career designing consumer electronics, toys, bicycles, and snowboard boots. Ted lives in Louisville, Colorado with his wife and two teenage sons.

Matt Barnard (Co-founder and CEO of Plenty)

Matt Barnard

Co-founder and CEO of Plenty

Matt Barnard is the co-founder and CEO of Plenty, which grows clean, delicious fruits and vegetables year-round in indoor farms located just outside major urban centers without pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. Matt previously served as President and COO of Whalen & Company, founder of Search Fund Capital, Managing Operating Partner for 523 Capital, and VP of Deployment at SmartSynch. The teams he led designed and deployed over $1B of sophisticated technology infrastructure in the telecommunications and cellular smart grid industries. A 6th generation farmer, Matt earned an MS from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and both a BA and BM from Northwestern University.

Brady Beauchamp (COO at Debut Biotechnology, Inc)

Brady Beauchamp

COO at Debut Biotechnology, Inc

Brady Beauchamp leads operations and finance for Debut Biotechnology on a day-to-day basis. Prior to joining Debut, Brady held positions as a warfare qualified submarine pilot, Goldman Sachs Associate (private equity), and most recently, as a principal at NextWave Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm specifically focused on the commercialization of university intellectual property. Brady holds a BS in Economics from the US Naval Academy where he continues to serve as class president.

Adam Behrens (Co-founder and CEO of Mori)

Adam Behrens

Co-founder and CEO of Mori

Adam Behrens, Co-founder and CEO of Mori (formerly Cambridge Crops), has spent his career developing and translating technologies in the areas of food, agriculture, healthcare, and nutrition. Previously, he was a postdoctoral associate in the Langer Lab at MIT where he managed several projects focused on improving healthcare and nutrition in the developing world. He was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2017.

Dave Belikov (VP Corporate Development at

Dave Belikov

VP Corporate Development at

Dave Belikov brings an insider’s view to sustainability challenges with a passion to solve them. Recently worked across multiple platforms with Louis Dreyfus Company, a large vertically integrated food producer and processor. Previously an award winning banking executive, raising over $2B in assets from both private and institutional investors.

Serkan Berk (Associate Director – New Venture Resources of University of California, Davis)

Serkan Berk

Associate Director – New Venture Resources of University of California, Davis

Serkan Berk is the Associate Director of New Venture Resource at UC Davis Venture Catalyst. Venture Catalyst facilitates translation of research and commercialization of technology by providing early stage startup services, business tools, and network connections to UC Davis affiliated innovators and entrepreneurs to enable successful startups, which extend the benefits of campus research activities to society. As an associate director of new venture resources, Serkan manages a pipeline of innovators and startups from physical sciences, engineering, ag/tech, and food. He assists UC Davis affiliated innovators and entrepreneurs by identifying their needs, and guiding them to available resources both internally and externally. Serkan has background in biomedical engineering. After completing his graduate study at University of Minnesota, he joined Medtronic where he held product management and downstream marketing roles in company's Structural Heart Division for several years.

Dror Berman (Founding Partner at Innovation Endeavors)

Dror Berman

Founding Partner at Innovation Endeavors

As the founding partner of Innovation Endeavors, Dror has invested in over 100 companies from Seed through Series B that leverage cutting edge technology to drive exponential human and financial impact. A true sci-fi geek, Dror is passionate about advances in AI, digital biology, and robotics. His investments include Planet, SoFi, Team8, Zymergen, Plenty, Uber, and Freenome among others. Dror also co-founded Farm2050, a collective dedicated to supporting innovation in AgTech, as the first of several initiatives to support entrepreneurs who are solving tomorrow's biggest challenges.

Prior to founding Innovation Endeavors with Eric Schmidt, Dror worked on global search products at Yahoo and led an R&D team at NICE Systems. He also spent three years in an elite unit at the Israeli Defense Forces. Dror received an MBA from Stanford University and graduated cum laude in computer science and bioinformatics from Ben-Gurion University.

Todd Bissett (Partner at Gowling WLG)

Todd Bissett

Partner at Gowling WLG

Todd Bissett is a partner in Gowling WLG's Waterloo Region office.
Todd is a widely experienced business, technology, and international transactions lawyer, licensed in California and Ontario. He previously practiced for several years in Silicon Valley and Greater China. Todd’s emerging growth practice focuses on the complete life-cycle of startup companies, from formation and organizational work through equity and debt financings, mergers and acquisitions, and complex business combinations. Todd acts for both issuers and investors in investments, and sellers and buyers in M&A transactions. He has worked extensively with major institutional and strategic investors, venture capital and hedge funds, and companies and issuers from early stage startups to multinational public and private organizations.
In his international practice, Todd advises on complex, cross-border transactions and business arrangements, drawing on his wide experience and resources to oversee multijurisdictional matters on behalf of his clients.
Todd has experience across several industries including software, telecommunications and value-added services, manufacturing, gaming, financial services, education, biotech, and medical products and services.
Todd provides advice to clients in a number of key areas: Emerging growth, corporate and commercial, equity and debt financing, private mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and international law.
Before returning to Canada in 2011, Todd practiced with U.S. law firms in Silicon Valley and in both Shanghai and Beijing, China, ultimately managing and overseeing the China practice for an AMLAW 100 firm from 2009 to 2011. Todd advises early-stage companies on a pro bono basis in association with accelerator and incubator programs such as Communitech, the Accelerator Centre, and the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Program.
Todd frequently speaks on topics related to the emerging growth market and doing business internationally (and particularly in China) at events for students, entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives.

Jim Boettcher (Senior Adviser at Wanxiang Blockchain)

Jim Boettcher

Senior Adviser at Wanxiang Blockchain

Jim was recently highlighted in the upper quartile of the AlwaysOn VC 100 List and was ranked #37 on the Forbes magazine 2011 list of The Top 100 Most Powerful Venture Capitalists. Jim is also featured in Venture Capitalists at Work, a book highlighting how VCs identify and build billion dollar businesses authored by Tarang Shah and How to be a VC, a book about how to learn from top Silicon Valley investors about how they became a VC, by Grace Gong.

He leads Focus Ventures’ business development efforts for its U.S. portfolio companies in Asia. Value-added activities include recruiting, finding manufacturing and sales & marketing partners and establishing new or joint-venture Asian entities. He established Focus Ventures Shanghai Representative Office in 2001. Jim led the Focus Ventures investment in and is on the Advisory Committee for Golden Sands River Ventures in Beijing, a successful early-stage venture fund. As a long-time senior advisor to the Cha Group in Hong Kong and a member of the family’s US family office, CM Capital, Investment Advisory Committee, he helped organize, is a Venture Partner and on the Investment Committee for the highly successful Beijing and Shanghai-based Mingly/Mingxin China Growth Fund (MCGF), one of China’s leading private equity firms managing both U.S. dollar and RMB funds in a strategic partnership with several of the Jiangsu Provincial private equity funds.

Mr. Boettcher is also a co-founder and proactive board member of Corigin LLC, Livermore, CA. Corigin has an exclusive worldwide license to a unique, well proven pyrolysis technology integrated with bio-refinery distillation towers.

Mr. Boettcher is also a board member of Berkeley Earth a climate science and strategic analysis non-profit co-founded by Professor Robert Mueller, author of Physics for Future Presidents and founder on Deep Isolation, commercializing a revolutionary low cost method for the storage of nuclear wastes.

Milena Bogdanova Bursztyn (Venture Investor at Germin8 Ventures)

Milena Bogdanova Bursztyn

Venture Investor at Germin8 Ventures

Milena is a venture investor at Germin8 Ventures, a purpose-driven venture capital firm that believes in the power of technology to fix the global food system. In her role, Milena participates in sourcing, research, evaluation and execution of potential investments in addition to actively supporting portfolio companies with strategic advice.

Milena has extensive experience driving growth for digital platforms across food and non-food technology verticals. Prior to Germin8, she held executive roles at a variety of technology companies including Spotify, where she led product experimentation and platform optimization. Milena also led growth operations for ScoreBeyond (acquired by LinkedIn), an ed tech platform democratizing test prep access, and oversaw business development and strategy for SideChef, a smart kitchen mobile app.

Milena began her career as an entrepreneur, having successfully launching a gourmet food retail
concept. She is an active advisor to startups in several accelerators including LaunchX, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business NVC Accelerator, Harvard i-Lab, and the Investor Committee Chair of Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs. Milena holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Mike Borel (Principal at Context Network)

Mike Borel

Principal at Context Network

Mike J. Borel has often been heard to say, “Context delivers horsepower, objectivity and focus on Client needs.” His exceptional career and leadership expertise bring credence to that claim.

Borel is a business visionary and take-charge executive who brings success in improving competitive position, increasing sales and profit, and enhancing stockholder value. He has revitalized, streamlined and turned around organizations to generate positive cash flow, increase market share, improve productivity and reduce costs. During his executive career, Mr. Borel has applied common sense and business skills to lead teams in outperforming competitors in sales and profits in every position he has held (President & COO Valent; Chairman & CEO Novazone; Business Manager Europe, Middle East, Africa, DuPont; General Manager Australasia, DuPont; etc.). Mr. Borel is now “enabling remarkable results” for clients by helping identify and implement winning strategy and enabling successful, high-impact critical decisions.

Mr. Borel helps clients outperform competitors and achieve remarkable results. His emphases are in the following areas:
 Development & implementation of winning strategies at corporate, regional, functional and product levels
 Identification and prioritization of opportunities; including identifying what to stop
 Management of challenging issues, threats and decisions
 Competitive & market Intelligence and benchmarking
 Connecting technology to agriculture and wildlife conservation
 Playing to win vs. playing not to lose
 Focusing organizations externally
 Multicultural initiatives and projects;
 Revitalizing and streamlining organizations;
 Acquisitions and alliances;
 PIMS database
He has particular interest in Industries involving Technology and Agriculture, e.g. Seed/Biotechnology, Crop Protection, Pest Management, Crop Enhancement, Precision Agriculture, and Animal Agriculture.

Borel holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Iowa State University and has extensive training in consultancy processes. Borel resides in California, U.S.A.

The Context Network serves the Ag Value Chain in nine distinct practice areas. We believe in growing a world that is more productive, efficient and sustainable. We do that by helping clients achieve remarkable results. Our passion for agriculture is what drives us and is one of the main reasons why we have become the premier global and agribusiness consulting firm in advancing agriculture. We’re helping clients make this happen by combining our proven strategic management insights and extensive network of agriculture and agribusiness industry professionals to create customized business solutions that deliver remarkable results.

Mike J. Borel
P 925.937.4180; M 925.330.0463;

Seb Boyer (CEO & Co-Founder of FarmWise)

Seb Boyer

CEO & Co-Founder of FarmWise

Sebastien is the co-founder and CEO of FarmWise where he focuses on leveraging the power of AI and robotics to address farmers' biggest challenges. Before co-founding FarmWise, Sebastien worked as a mathematician for IBM Research and a data scientist for Facebook. He was named one of the 35 Innovators Under 35 for Europe from MIT Technology Review in 2018 and named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019. He holds a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from MIT, a Master's in Technology Policies also from MIT, and a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Ecole Polytechnique in France.

Mauricio Braia (Co-Founder and CSO of Michroma)

Mauricio Braia

Co-Founder and CSO of Michroma

10 years ago, I started learning from the Buddha’s teachings and became a vegetarian. Since then, nutrition has become key in his life, and soon realized the health concerns regarding food products and their ingredients. I decided to leverage my background in biotechnology to create michroma and ensure food security worldwide in a sustainable way.

BSc in Biotechnology, PhD. in Biological Sciences. Professor at the National University of Rosario and Argentinean Catholic University. Expert in bioprocesses and scale-ups. Soccer and bass player.

Joshua Britton (CEO of Debut Biotechnology, Inc)

Joshua Britton

CEO of Debut Biotechnology, Inc

Dr. Britton leads business and scientific strategy for Debut Biotechnology. Prior to Debut, Dr. Britton achieved his PhD in biochemistry between UCI and Flinders University advancing cell-free continuous manufacturing. After his PhD, he took a position at MIT before joining the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Britton has authored 25 publications and has several patents. He has also received over ten awards for his contribution to biochemistry.

Carson Britz (Executive Vice President at Pearl Crop)

Carson Britz

Executive Vice President at Pearl Crop

Carson Britz is the Executive Vice President for Pearl Crop, a California based value-added processor of Almonds and Walnuts. Prior to joining Pearl Crop, Carson co-founded two ag tech startups, using his experience and expertise in agricultural production and supply chain to build those businesses. Formerly the Director of Procurement for Apio, Inc. (recently rebranded as Curation Foods) coupled with Carson’s experience in Food Safety, Carson’s background in his family ag operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley, have given him a colorful experiences in sales, processing, supply chain, sustainability, and crop production. Carson was elected Secretary/Treasure of the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau in 2019, where he has served as an at-large director since 2015. Carson earned a B.S. from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, in Agribusiness, with an emphasis in Plant Protection Science, and is also a licensed Pest Control Advisor license, in California.

Steven Brockshus (Founder of FarmlandFinder)

Steven Brockshus

Founder of FarmlandFinder

Steven Brockshus was raised on a 5th generation family dairy farm in Iowa. He studied agriculture at Iowa State University, served as a National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Officer & founded FarmlandFinder after noticing a technology gap while attending a land auction with his dad. He currently lives in Des Moines, IA and enjoys reading, running & travelling.

Mark Brodeur (VP Digital Marketing Innovation at Nestle)

Mark Brodeur

VP Digital Marketing Innovation at Nestle

Mark Brodeur is Vice President of Digital Innovation for Nestlé. Based in San Francisco California, Mark leads Nestlé’s Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost (SVIO), a team of 20+ Marketing and Technical employees whose goal is build new and potentially breakthrough digitally-enabled services and new business models which enhance consumer’s lives. The SVIO does this in collaboration with Nestlé businesses around the world and in partnership with promising startups and large companies alike.
Mark is a Nestlé veteran of more than 25 years. He started his career in Sales then moved into Marketing. In his 12 years in Marketing, Mark held a variety of leadership roles and had responsibility for running some of Nestlé Purina’s largest and most profitable brands in North America. Prior to his current global digital leadership role, Mark spent 5 years as Global Head of Environmental Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility for Nestlé Purina.

Justin Bruch (President at Clear Frontier Ag Management)

Justin Bruch

President at Clear Frontier Ag Management

Justin is the President, Chief Investment Officer & Co-founder of Clear Frontier Ag Management. He brings decades of expertise, at a global scale, in both sustainable farming and institutional investment management. At Clear Frontier Ag Management, Justin leads the business in the acquisition and transition of farmland to certified organic with 25M+ dollars of land acquisitions in the first year of business.

Justin also served as Vice-President & COO as a deal team member at Canterra Capital, Canada’s second largest ESG-focused agriculture fund and CPPIB’s agriculture investment platform. Justin helped to managed 100+ farmers and as well as instrumental in the acquisition of 57,000+ acres of expansion to Canterra’s portfolio.

He managed an active farming operation of an 135,000+ acre portfolio in Ukraine between 2008-2014.
Justin is a founding investor of and currently serves as Chairman and Senior Strategist.
Justin is a 5th generation farmer from Iowa. Justin holds a Bachelor’s in Agronomy from Iowa State University and an MBA from Craig School of Business at California State University. He has actively farmed in four continents and has extensive experience in agricultural acquisitions and portfolio management.

Jeb Burns (Chief Investment Officer at Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Michigan)

Jeb Burns

Chief Investment Officer at Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Michigan

Jeb is an experienced investment professional, business strategist, and organizational leader. He is the Chief Investment Officer for the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan (MERS), an independent not-for-profit company and one of the 200 largest pension funds in the United States, and is responsible for directing the System’s $9 billion investment program. He reports directly to both the Chief Executive Officer and MERS Retirement Board, presents at all board meetings, and serves as a member of the Investment Committee. He represents the Fund’s interests, serving on several advisory committees for its numerous global investments.

Leading a nine-member team of investment professionals, Jeb is responsible for setting investment strategy for the Fund and implementing all investment programs. As a member of the senior management team, Jeb provides strategic leadership and guidance with respect to business strategy, public policy, organizational development, and all new business initiatives.

Prior to joining MERS in 2002, he held positions in public policy, communications, legislative affairs, and budget with the State of Michigan. He served as a financial advisor with Prudential Securities before entering public service. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Western Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University with a concentration in Public Policy.

In addition to his role as CIO, Jeb serves on the Western Michigan University Foundation Investment Committee, Michigan State University Finance Department Advisory Board, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Foundation Leadership Michigan Advisory Board, Mackinac Associates, and is the Co-Founder and past President of the West Michigan Global Initiative (WMGI). In his role with the WMGI, Jeb initiated the first official trade mission to the Netherlands.

Carl Casale (Senior Agricultural Partner at Ospraie Ag Science)

Carl Casale

Senior Agricultural Partner at Ospraie Ag Science

His three decades of experience leading globally influential companies across these sectors provide unparalleled insight into the converging forces that will soon fundamentally transform global agricultural systems. Casale’s proven expertise aligning organizations with outcomes and his keen understanding of market dynamics and trends enable him to innovate, execute and create opportunity.

A fourth-generation farmer himself, Carl identifies ag tech investment opportunities that support sustainable food production. In 2018, he helped launch Ospraie Ag Science, the venture arm of Ospraie Management. In this role, he leads successful venture campaigns for select companies that help farmers do more with less environmental impact.

In Casale’s seven years as the CEO and President of CHS, Inc., the company returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. Casale focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company. During his tenure, CHS was the only major firm in the industry to manage through the recent economic decline without a planned reduction in workforce, instead relying on strategic cost reductions. During this period, Casale reduced working capital by $400 million to help fund a $2.8 billion transformational investment in CF Nitrogen – without taking on an undesirable debt level. The result was an 80-year agreement and a significant new profit source for the co-op’s farmer-owners.

At Monsanto Company, Casale rose through the ranks from sales representative to running the company’s largest division at age 36. As Executive Vice President of Strategy and Operations, he conceptualized the industry’s first eight-gene agricultural biotech product, “SmartStax,” which became the nation’s number one insect protection trait in corn. As CFO, he reduced several hundred million dollars in operating costs by shifting the reliance on revenue to the strategic use of cash to generate earnings.

From Congress to key industry events, Casale is a frequent and sought-after commentator on the future of farming and global ag infrastructure. He remains deeply committed to “creating business models that ensure relevance over time” and continues to shape the ag, food and energy industries in both private and public roles. Carl and his wife, Kim, operate a 150-acre specialty crop farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and his family resides in
the Twin Cities.

Ricky Cassini (Co-Founder and CEO of Michroma)

Ricky Cassini

Co-Founder and CEO of Michroma

I am passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. Excited to take the science out of the lab to create a disruptive change in the world. I co-founded michroma with Mauricio Braia to build better food ingredients for the planet, consumers, and businesses.

When I was a kid I had a bad experience with petroleum-based ingredients in food, suffering from skin allergies which led to a change of diet towards more natural products. Growing up in a farming family I learned about the challenges of traditional agriculture. My past made me truly believe that we need to create a more sustainable and healthier future for everyone.

BSc in Business Administration. Professor of Operations and Logistics at Austral University and experience in management consulting. Indiebio Alumni. Westerwelle Young Founders Program Alumni. Animal lover and tennis player.

Matthew Chagan (Managing Director of Rich Products Ventures)

Matthew Chagan

Managing Director of Rich Products Ventures

Matt is currently a managing director with Rich Products Ventures, a FoodTech focused venture capital fund that has backed a number of leading companies including BlueNalu, MycoTechnology, Kitchen United and Tovala. Prior to joining Rich Products Ventures, Matt was the co-founder of Synapse Partners, an AI focused venture capital fund and also led Acquisitions and Investments for Ripple (the blockchain company not the food company) and Opera.

Holly Chen (Growth Advisor)

Holly Chen

Growth Advisor

Holly Chen is a Growth and Marketing advisor and angel investor for high-growth technology products. Most recently she was the Global Head of Digital Marketing at Slack, helping it grow from $100M to $700M ARR and going public. Prior to joining Slack in 2016, Holly was the Head of Growth and the first marketer at Google eCommerce, taking it from ideation to launch in 24 countries, and launched Pixel, Google Home, and Android Wear. Holly also worked as the Global Head of Google B2B Websites for Google’s marquee advertising and analytics products. Prior to Google, she worked on Worldwide Product Management at, was the Head of Product and Marketing at social commerce startup, and advised on innovation strategies at Deloitte Consulting and Kearny for clients such as Mastercard, AT&T, UBS. Holly has a Master’s in European and Eurasian Studies from the George Washington University and speaks Italian and Chinese fluently.

Norman Chen (Venture Partner at 6 Dimensions Capital)

Norman Chen

Venture Partner at 6 Dimensions Capital

Mr. Chen has spent the past 25 years as a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and corporate executive, focusing primarily on healthcare opportunities in Asia. After starting at Baxter International in Hong Kong, he founded Asia Renal Care (ARC) and led the company to own and operate over 70 kidney dialysis centers in Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

In 2004, Mr. Chen co-founded DeltaHealth to provide international-quality cardiovascular care in China. The company currently operates a multipurpose clinic and a 200-bed specialty hospital in Shanghai in collaboration with Columbia University.

From 2005-2012, Mr. Chen was the Healthcare Partner at Fidelity Growth Partners Asia, where he led several investments in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, animal health and medical services sectors in China.

Currently, Mr. Chen is a Venture Partner at 6 Dimensions Capital, a leading US-China life sciences fund with $1 billion under management.

Mr. Chen has a BS degree in Biology from MIT and an MBA from Stanford University. He lives in the SF Bay Area and is involved with several non-profit organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Marine Science Institute and Positive Coaching Alliance.

Joel Cherry (CEO of Digestiva)

Joel Cherry

CEO of Digestiva

Joel Cherry joined Digestiva one year ago, bringing 26 years of experience in industrial biotechnology and a proven track record of getting biotech products to market. Prior to joining Digestiva, he served for 10 years as the President of R&D at Amyris, Inc., a leading U.S.-based synthetic biology company. At Amyris, he led a team of >200 scientists dedicated to the development of microorganisms that efficiently convert plant-derived feedstocks to chemicals for use in flavors and fragrances, health and nutrition, cosmetics, and jet/diesel fuels. While at Amyris, the company successfully produced and commercialized eight fermentation-based ingredients today found in thousands of brands. He also oversaw the development of the world’s first automated microbial design and assembly pipeline, a DARPA-funded technology effort allowing Amyris to create and test tens of thousands of genetic designs each year. Prior to joining Amyris, Dr. Cherry worked at Novozymes for 16 years as a Senior Director and member of the international R&D Management team in charge of enzyme evolution and the BioEnergy Project.

John Chrosniak (Entrepreneur)

John Chrosniak


John brings his energy and passion to the food and agriculture industry where he sees tremendous potential to improve the lives of farmers while positively impacting society and our planet. Most recently John focused his expertise as CEO of Invaio Sciences, A Flagship Pioneering company founded to address significant unmet needs in agriculture. His work at Invaio focused on enabling the development of groundbreaking science with broad applications to improving the efficacy and sustainability of crop protection solutions.

Prior to joining Invaio, John served in a number of leadership roles across a wide range of industries at DuPont. Most recently he was Chief Strategy Officer of Corteva created from the combination of DuPont’s Agriculture businesses and Dow AgroSciences. In this role he led the efforts to strategically shape the future of the second largest agriculture inputs company following its creation from the merger of Dow and Dupont. He was responsible for leading the development of a digital agriculture strategy that culminated in the acquisition of San Francisco based Granular, a leading farmer SaaS provider, creating a unique position in this rapidly developing market. He also served as President, DuPont Sustainable Solutions, Global Business Director, Advanced Printing and Regional Business Director Dupont Crop Protection.

Prior to joining DuPont, John spent nearly a decade in management consulting in the strategy and operations practice of Deloitte. He served numerous clients advising on subjects as diverse as corporate and competitive strategy, sales and marketing effectiveness, supply chain optimization and plant operations efficiency.

John started his career as a system engineer at General Motors Arlington, TX assembly plant and subsequently spent several year at GM’s headquarters helping to drive efficiency across one of the most complex supply chains in the world.

In addition, John has served on a number of industry boards including as Chair of CropLife America, United Fresh Produce and Agriculture Association of America.

John holds MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and BBA from James Madison University.

Jason Cohen (Founder & CEO of Gastrograph)

Jason Cohen

Founder & CEO of Gastrograph

Before starting Analytical Flavor Systems, Jason was the Founder and Executive Director at the Tea Institute at Penn State,
an interdisciplinary research institute for tea, tea ceremony, and tea culture. Jason did his personal research in sensory science and artificial intelligence to build predictive models of consumer preference.
Outside of Analytical Flavor Systems, Jason still drinks a lot of tea and rock climbs.

Brian Dawson (Co-Founder & CEO of HarvestPort)

Brian Dawson

Co-Founder & CEO of HarvestPort

Brian P. Dawson is the co-founder and CEO of HarvestPort, a marketplace for seasonal agriculture resources. Brian began his career in agriculture by co-founding Palogix, now the largest renter of bulk containers to the specialty crop sector in North America, with operations in Chile, South Africa, and Spain. Prior, Mr. Dawson co-founded PetroCal Inc., a technology company focused on increasing the production of mature oil and gas fields (IPO 2004, TSX). Brian is also the co-founder of Fifth Season Ventures, an investment fund focused on creating value in the food and agricultural supply chain. He serves on the Boards of Full Cycle Bioplastics, a company that converts organic waste into biodegradable plastic, and Kampesino, a platform that empowers agricultural field workers by increasing transparency in harvesting management and payroll. Brian serves as the “entrepreneur” member of the Western Growers Association Food Safety, Science, and Technology Committee. Mr. Dawson is a graduate of Columbia University, and lives in San Francisco with his wife and son.

Bethany Deshpande (Founder & CEO of Soma Detect)

Bethany Deshpande

Founder & CEO of Soma Detect

Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of SomaDetect. She is a highly motivated, big-picture thinker who has more than a decade of experience in science and entrepreneurship, and is always excited to tackle big problems in big ways. SomaDetect was founded in 2016 with the mission of providing farmers with the information they need to make the best possible milk. The company's core technology is an in-line sensor capable of monitoring reproductive status, health, and milk quality from individual cows. SomaDetect’s sensor uses no consumables (no chemicals, no cartridges, no lost milk), is extremely quick (seconds, not minutes), and fits into existing milking equipment. With Bethany's leadership, the company has grown from 4 people working in a small apartment to now having a team of twenty-six people with offices in both Canada and the United States. SomaDetect was selected as the recipient of the Ag Innovation Showcase prize (St. Louis, 2017), one of the Canadian Innovation Exchange Top 20 companies (Toronto, 2017), Grand Prize winner of $1 M from Buffalo's 43North Competition (Buffalo, 2017), and Rabobank's Foodbytes' Judges Choice Award (NYC, 2018). SomaDetect represents a major innovation in dairy technology, providing milk quality and health data to farmers when they need it most.

Marc Diaz (Senior Vice President at Terviva)

Marc Diaz

Senior Vice President at Terviva

Marc Diaz utilizes his expertise at scaling ventures to grow TerViva’s pongamia oilseed tree cultivation and production operations worldwide. He values TerViva’s ability to help farmers restore agricultural lands into productive sources of food and bioproducts in an innovative, sustainable and responsible way. Marc works with TerViva’s stakeholders to contribute carbon negative food through regenerative agriculture, helping achieve environmental, social, and governance goals with strong financial performance.

Prior to joining TerViva, Marc launched and led impact investing efforts through NatureVest at The Nature Conservancy, and the UNICEF Bridge Fund, where he served as Managing Director. He began his career and spent six years in management consulting at McKinsey & Company. Marc has served in Board leadership roles in community development finance, philanthropy, theater, and The Episcopal Church. He is a 2017 Aspen Institute Finance Leaders Fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Marc earned his MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School and holds an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. He graduated cum laude with a BA in Government from Harvard College. In his free time, he enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with his family’s retired racing greyhounds.

Nick Dokoozlian (Vice President of Winegrowing Research at EJ Gallo)

Nick Dokoozlian

Vice President of Winegrowing Research at EJ Gallo

Nick Dokoozlian is Vice President of Winegrowing Research. His group is responsible for research and development in the areas of grape and wine production across the winery. This includes precision agriculture innovation, vineyard mechanization, the development of cultural practices which enhance grape yield and quality, and the improvement of wine processing, fermentation and aging practices. He serves as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Viticulture and Enology, Research Director for the National Grape and Wine Initiative and a member of the American Vineyard Foundation Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Committee.

Prior to joining Gallo, Dokoozlian spent 15 years as a member of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis. In this role he was responsible for viticulture research and teaching, as well as statewide extension education activities for wine and table grapes. Dokoozlian earned his PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of California, Davis.

Michelle Egger (CEO of Biomilq)

Michelle Egger

CEO of Biomilq

Michelle is diversely experienced food scientist, driven to solve global food security and malnutrition. She has worked for General Mills in dairy fermentation, formulation and processing and most recently for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on their global nutrition team.

Phil Erlanger (Managing Partner at Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund, LP)

Phil Erlanger

Managing Partner at Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund, LP

Phil is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Pontifax Global Food and Agriculture Technology Fund, a growth stage private equity firm focused on the food and agriculture technology space. He has more than 25 years of investing and advisory experience across a wide array of transactions, markets and industries, with expertise in agriculture technology investing, as well as private equity and financial institutions corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions and capital markets transactions of all kinds.

Joelle Faulkner (CEO of Area One Farms)

Joelle Faulkner

CEO of Area One Farms

Joelle Faulkner is the President and C.E.O. of Area One Farms, a company she founded in 2012. She is a Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Scholar and a ‘Future Leader in Canada's Most Powerful Women: the Top 100’. Area One Farms uses a farmer-centric private equity model to sustainably scale independent Canadian farms. Area One Farms emphasizes partnership with farmer as a way to build value and deliver premium returns to investors. The company has partnered with numerous operators across Canada and operates over 65,000 acres of farmland. Prior to establishing Area One Farms, Ms. Faulkner undertook degrees in engineering, law, and business, and worked professionally at Bain & Co., Morgan Stanley, and Onex. Ms. Faulkner currently serves on the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Innovation Committee and the Board of Colibri Technology Inc.

Nathan Feltz (Principal at Xplorer)

Nathan Feltz

Principal at Xplorer

Nathan Feltz joined Xplorer as a Principal in 2019, where he primarily manages our deal pipeline and investment management processes and works closely with portfolio investments supporting financial and fundraising activities. Nathan has 10 years of experience working within asset management and early stage companies and previously served as the CFO of Canvas Technology. Nathan was instrumental in facilitating the sale of Canvas to Amazon in 2019. Prior to Canvas Nathan was a Senior Financial Analyst at the activist hedge fund manager Discovery Equity Partners in Chicago. Nathan received his MBA from University of California Berkeley in 2017, holds a CFA designation, and received his BA in Finance and Accounting from Depaul University in 2010. Nathan currently resides in Denver, Colorado.

Brian Frank (Founder and General Partner of FTW Ventures)

Brian Frank

Founder and General Partner of FTW Ventures

Brian Frank is the Founder and General Partner of FTW Ventures, a venture firm investing in technology for a better Food System. FTW provides capital, mentorship and access to a wide community of tech and food industry partners to early-stage biotech, hardware & software/SaaS startups.

Prior to founding FTW, Brian served as a founder and executive in a number of tech startups and leading corporations, taking 3 venture-backed startups through to successful exits. He excels in fundraising, product strategy, storytelling and go-to-market for cutting edge technologies in a variety of sectors.

FTW Ventures is backed by luminaries in both food & tech, invests $50k - $500k in pre-Seed & Seed stage rounds, and includes companies like Geltor (animal-free gelatin production) & Spoiler Alert (SaaS for surplus inventory management) in its portfolio.

Connect with Brian at, and see more about FTW Ventures at

Robert Genovese (Principal and Head of Investor Relations at Xplorer)

Robert Genovese

Principal and Head of Investor Relations at Xplorer

Rob Genovese joined Xplorer in 2020 as a Principal and Head of Investor Relations, where he manages fundraising and investor relations activities and supports portfolio-level fundraising activities. Rob has more than ten years of experience working within private equity and early stage companies. Prior to joining Xplorer, Rob served as a Senior Vice President and led investor relations for a Shanghai-based private equity manager investing in Chinese consumer businesses. Additionally, Rob ran marketing and client services for a Shanghai-based early stage financial data and information company. Rob received a degree in Economics and in International Relations from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Rob currently resides in New York City and travels frequently.

Alexander Gillett (CEO & Co-Founder of HowGood)

Alexander Gillett

CEO & Co-Founder of HowGood

Alexander Gillett is the co-founder and CEO of HowGood, an independent research company with the world's largest database on food and personal care product sustainability. Since 2007, Alexander has guided HowGood’s business trajectory, driving innovative partnerships with like-minded companies and organizations. Under Alexander's leadership, HowGood has provided critical data and insights into the quickly-shifting world of sustainability for retailers, consumers, and CPGs, while maintaining its mission to increase transparency and reduce the impact of food and consumer goods on our world.

Olaf Gruess (Disruptive Technology Manager; Global Connector at General Mills)

Olaf Gruess

Disruptive Technology Manager; Global Connector at General Mills

Olaf Gruess has over 17 years of experience at General Mills, leading new product development (baked goods, yogurt, cereal bars, shelf stable and frozen meals) and strategic research initiatives (sodium reduction technology, taste perception), as well as roles in Marketing, Connected Innovation and early start-up evaluation. 

Currently he is focusing on identifying technologies externally and developing implementation strategies for those technologies into the broader organization. Gruess is also creating a novel value stream by incubating internal technologies together with potential external partners.

Gruess serves as a judge and mentor at MassChallenge, the world’s most start-up friendly accelerator and at the European Food Venture Forum; he is on the Industrial Board of the Integrative Food and Nutrition Center at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland and also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Institute for Food Technology (DIL).

Gruess received his Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Bonn, Germany and the University of Ghent, Belgium, as well as a Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Jianming Guo (CEO of Beijing ICAN Technology Co. Ltd)

Jianming Guo

CEO of Beijing ICAN Technology Co. Ltd

Jason Guo, graduated with his Ph.D in plant genetics and breeding from China Agricultural University in 2006. He joined Monsanto China in the same year as a Technology Develpment Executive and became the R&D lead in 2015. Jason left Monsanto in 2018 and joined ICAN company and currently as the CEO of ICAN.

Dinsh Guzdar (Managing Director of Rich Products Ventures)

Dinsh Guzdar

Managing Director of Rich Products Ventures

Dinsh Guzdar is the Managing Director of Rich Products Corporate Venture Fund a FoodTech focused venture capital fund that has backed a number of leading companies including BlueNalu, MycoTechnology Kitchen United and Tovala. Rich Products is a $4 billion global food manufacturer selling food across multiple channels including food service and retail and in over 150 countries. Most recently Dinsh was he President of f’real foods a wholly owned subsidiary of Rich Products. f’real foods is a foodtech business that enables convenience stores to offer freshly blended frozen beverages to consumers in a self-service format.

Bentley Hall (CEO of Good Eggs)

Bentley Hall

CEO of Good Eggs

Bentley is a driven entrepreneur who loves helping emerging, mission-driven consumer brands scale. He is the CEO of Good Eggs, an online grocery delivery service that’s pioneering a better way to feed your family, without settling.

After spending time with Johnson & Johnson and Clif Bar, Bentley joined the early executive team at Plum Organics. In less than 7 years, Plum grew to become the largest organic baby & kids food co. in the US, and was acquired by the Campbell Soup Co in 2012.

John Hamer (Managing Partrner at DCVC Bio)

John Hamer

Managing Partrner at DCVC Bio

John is a Managing Partner at DCVC Bio. Prior to joining DCVC, John was a VP at Monsanto and Managing Director of Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV). Before joining MGV, John was a Managing Director at Burrill & Company. Prior to his career in venture capital, John was an entrepreneur, initially at Paradigm Genetics, where he joined as a visiting scientist before becoming Chief Science Officer and eventually President and CEO following the company’s IPO. After Paradigm, John founded and served as CEO of Arête Therapeutics, which earned backing from leading life science venture firms.
John started his career in academia, rising to the rank of Full Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, where he earned the David and Lucille Packard Fellow award in 1989. John received a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. from the University of Windsor and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of California, Davis.

Kirk Haney (Managing Partner at Radicle Growth)

Kirk Haney

Managing Partner at Radicle Growth

Kirk Haney is the CEO & Managing Partner at Radicle Growth. Under Kirk’s leadership, Radicle Growth has become a market leader in early-stage ag and foodtech investing and company building and has secured top-tier financial and corporate investors. A serial entrepreneur with three exits, Kirk has raised over $200M in venture capital, private equity and corporate capital and has had three successful exits. He’s worked in technology, venture capital and ag & food his entire career and has a clear understanding of what early-stage companies need to be successful. Kirk is a proud father and is passionate about food, health and sustainability.

Andrew Harper (Partner at Sidley Austin)

Andrew Harper

Partner at Sidley Austin

Andrew Harper provides strategic counseling to companies, ranging from newly formed startup teams to mature late-stage private companies, on matters spanning the entire corporate life-cycle, including pre-incorporation planning, general corporate representation and counseling, venture capital financings, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions. He also regularly represents venture capital firms, strategic investors, and private equity investors. Andrew leverages his experience as general counsel of a venture-backed company to deeply understand entrepreneurs, anticipate their business and legal needs, and pragmatically achieve their goals.

Peter Hawthorne (Managing Partner at P.Chandler Partners, LLC)

Peter Hawthorne

Managing Partner at P.Chandler Partners, LLC

Peter Hawthorne is Managing Partner of P. Chandler Partners, and advises investors and companies across ag, food, and related technology spaces. He is an Operating Director with Paine Schwartz Partners, a private equity firm investing across global ag and food. He chairs the board of Citrofrut, Mexico’s leading integrated juice producer, and is a board director of Spearhead International, the leading farm management company in central Europe. Previously, Peter led Cargill’s global corporate development and emerging businesses, overseeing $35 billion in transactions, completing JV’s in 20+ countries, and chaired the boards of three of Cargill’s largest JVs.

Jennifer Hebets (Business Development and External Innovation Manager at Mars Advanced Research Institute, Mars Inc.)

Jennifer Hebets

Business Development and External Innovation Manager at Mars Advanced Research Institute, Mars Inc.

Jenny currently serves as Business Development and External Innovation Manager for the Mars Advanced Research Institute (MARI). She sits on the MARI Economic Evaluation Team and has participated in the creation of an optimization analytical framework for driving maximum value of the MARI portfolio. She also serves as the MARI Liaison for several Mars Business Units. In this capacity, she serves as a critical point of connection between between various Mars business units and MARI’s network of external innovators, entrepreneurs and investors in the food, sustainable agriculture, beverage and confection spaces.
Prior to joining Mars she led a $150 million public private partnership to expand cocoa production based in Lima, Peru from 2012-2014. In that time, she orchestrated partnerships with USAID, major cocoa commodity traders, international financial institutions, the government of Peru and thousands of smallholder farmers. The program successfully improved agriculture practices, farmer incomes and business profitability for over 20,000 farmers. Prior to that, she served as Business Development Manager for Latin America for CARANA Corporation, developing and overseeing programs in 12+ countries that improved private sector performance and local stakeholder wellbeing across agricultural supply chains such as cocoa, coffee, and tropical fruit.
In addition to holding and MBA from UC Davis, she was a 2007-09 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and earned a Masters in Local and Regional Development from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Quito, Ecuador. She also holds a BA in International Affairs and Spanish from The George Washington University.

Peter Herz (General Partner at 1st Course Capital)

Peter Herz

General Partner at 1st Course Capital

Peter Herz. Peter is a General Partner of 1st Course Capital, an early stage venture capital firm focused on innovation in food and agriculture. Prior to 1CC, he co-founded Food System 6, a 501(c)(3) non-profit accelerator working with entrepreneurs building innovations that improve the environmental, physical and social health of the food system. Previously, he served as President or CEO of several technology companies. Peter has broad international experience including a startup in Munich, Germany and managing sales and partnerships in both Europe and Asia. Peter holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and read A-levels at Eastbourne College, United Kingdom.

Joshua T. Hofheimer (Partner at Sidley)

Joshua T. Hofheimer

Partner at Sidley

Josh Hofheimer combines two decades of corporate, commercial and technology law practice with the experience having run a public company to bring his clients focused, practical counsel to help them grow their business and maximize their value and returns. His practice focuses on representing clients in agribusiness and food, life sciences, and information technology sectors. Notably, he represented Monsanto Company in its efforts to advance agriculture research and development leveraging gene-editing technology through a joint venture with Pairwise Plants. Josh also has negotiated research, funding and commercialization agreements, licenses and technology spin-outs, as well as developed strategies to exploit proprietary products growing out of the research programs of agri-tech and bio-tech clientele.
Josh leads the firm’s Global Agribusiness and Food industry group, which has been acknowledged as the only law firm consistently ranked Band 1 in the category by Chambers Global (2016–2020).
From 2008–2010, Josh was the CEO/Managing Director of Australia’s first publicly listed ag-biotech company, Hexima Limited (HXL:ASX). While at Hexima, Josh led the company’s successful effort to forge a commercial path for its disease control platform, entering into a development and commercialization agreement with DuPont company, Pioneer Hi-Bred. The company established further commercial relationships with leading agribusinesses, Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science and Australian research centers.
Prior Sidley work includes representing start-up companies, agriscience companies, convergence technology companies, a semiconductor tooling manufacturer and broadband Internet content providers for whom Josh has acted as general outside corporate counsel.

Sara Ahmed Holman (Value Creation at Innovation Endeavors)

Sara Ahmed Holman

Value Creation at Innovation Endeavors

Sara Ahmed Holman leads Innovation Endeavors’ Farm2050 and Deep Life ecosystems. She is particularly passionate about helping startups strategically grow and partner with corporates to bring new technologies to evolving industries. Sara has deep expertise in startup operations. Previously, she was Associate General Counsel at Lookout and Corporate Counsel for Weebly (acquired by Square). After attending UCLA's School of Law where she provided research for the first Food Law treatise which covered the policy and regulatory landscape of food production and labeling, (Food Law in the United States), her legal career started at Bryan Cave where she co-founded the firm’s Food & Beverage Team. Sara has served as a legal expert on food labeling issues for the media, litigated and authored amicus briefs for food cases in Ninth Circuit, and counseled all sized food and agriculture companies. Before becoming a lawyer, Sara was awarded the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs where she focused on creating joint ventures between the private and public sectors, including specific projects with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the City of NY.

Gil Horsky (Director of Innovation & Ventures at Mondelez International)

Gil Horsky

Director of Innovation & Ventures at Mondelez International

Gil Horsky has a passion for investing and developing innovative snacking ventures that are good for people, kind to the planet and deliciously fun!.

Gil is part of the founding team for SnackFutures, the venture & innovation hub from Mondelēz International, the largest snacking company in the world.

Gil, and his team, are on a mission to create a vibrant ecosystem of partners to invent and to make venture investments in the next generation of snacks and entrepreneurs.

Throughout his career, Gil had the privilege to innovate and market around the globe many of the most iconic global food brands: Milka, Pepsi, Quaker Oats, Toblerone, Cadbury, Oreo, & Tropicana.

Niko Hrdy (President at Valley Oak Investments)

Niko Hrdy

President at Valley Oak Investments

Niko is President of Valley Oak Investments, where he manages a diversified portfolio of assets and analyzes various investment opportunities with a specific focus on early-stage companies in the food and agriculture industries. He has worked with companies from idea through IPO and prefers taking hands-on roles with the companies he works with. Some of his investment experience includes Farmers Business Network, Caviar (acquired by Square), Blue Bottle Coffee, Marrone Bio Innovations (NASDAQ: MBII), Plated, NatureBox, Juicero, and WHOOP. He is also a board director of Spoiler Alert and Texas Gulf Bank. Niko grew up on a commercial walnut farm in Northern California that his family still operates today.
Niko received an A.B. in economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

Takajiro Ishikawa (Senior Vice President at Mitsubishi Corporation)

Takajiro Ishikawa

Senior Vice President at Mitsubishi Corporation

Senior Executive Vice President, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc., &
Senior Vice President, Mitsubishi Corporation

Tak Ishikawa has been with Mitsubishi Corporation, a global trading and investment firm since 1983 and was its Senior Vice President & Division COO of its Asset Management Business Division. He is now at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of Japan’s leading industrial & infrastructure manufacturing firms, and moved to Houston in Oct. 2017, as its Senior Executive Vice President responsible for Business Development and M&A.
Between 1994 and 2010, he spent 15 years in New York as President, CEO of Mitsubishi’s alternative asset class investment subsidiary where he was responsible for direct and fund investments in private equity and various fixed income products. He was also the General Partner of Red Diamond Capital, a private equity fund sponsored by Mitsubishi and Advisory Board Member of KPS Capital Partners, Ripplewood Capital Partners, both New York based private equity funds. In his early years, he was Investment Director and GM for Mitsubishi’s Mining & Metals Div., in New York. He was responsible for its acquisition of Iron Ore Company of Canada and numerous other transactions in the Americas.
He sits on multiple boards including Pacific Pension Investment Institute, an education oriented non-profit to provide deep intellectual content to plan sponsors and asset owners who seek investment solutions in Asia.
Graduate of Waseda University in Tokyo and has a MBA from Harvard Business School. He is married with one daughter and one son. He now calls Houston his home but also lives part time in New York and Tokyo.

Tom Jacobs (VP Sales & Marketing at SnapDNA)

Tom Jacobs

VP Sales & Marketing at SnapDNA

Tom Jacobs has over 25 years of sales leadership in the food industry including 12 years at Tyson Foods. Responsible for over $500M in industry sales, he has an insider’s understanding of food processing practices, supply chain, HACCP protocol, and a passion for food safety.

Nik Jewell (Entrepreneur)

Nik Jewell


My background spans the gamut of high-tech semiconductor engineering to medicine to commodities to business and investing. I am currently building and buying businesses in the health and wellness sector. I am interested in meeting like-minded entrepreneurs, mentors, and potential co-investors.

George H. John (Investor)

George H. John


George John is currently an angel investor who looks for companies that will clearly benefit humanity, with technically and commercially strong founding teams and futuristic product ideas, particularly AI and robotics. He has been a venture capitalist at Khosla Ventures and a board member at futuristic companies like Blue River (robot farming) and AliveCor (a cardiologist in your hand). Prior to investing, George was an executive who worked for three startup companies, all of which went public: Epiphany,, and Rocket Fuel which he founded in 2008 and led as CEO and Chairman until 2015. Rocket Fuel had the strongest software IPO of 2013 and was ranked #1 on Deloitte's Fast500 list of fastest growing companies in North America. George led the company to a peak of over 1200 employees worldwide, $400M revenue and $2.5B market cap. In addition to startup experiences, George led intrapreneurial groups at Yahoo and IBM that became significant businesses. He holds several patents on the use of AI in predictive and autonomous systems, and has authored over 20 conference papers, journal articles, and book chapters on AI, with over 16,000 citations. He holds a BS, MS, and PhD with distinction in teaching from Stanford University, all in Computer Science with a focus on Machine Learning, with his PhD supported by an NSF fellowship.

Cole Jones (Founder & CEO of Local Line)

Cole Jones

Founder & CEO of Local Line

Cole is the Founder & CEO at Local Line, an e-commerce platform that helps local family farmers access new customers and new markets. Cole started Local Line in 2016 after doing research on local food systems. He has an undergrad in Philosophy and currently lives in Waterloo, ON where he and the Local Line team are on a mission to empower small family farmers to succeed as independent entrepreneurs.

Ilanit Kabessa (Head Dole Ventures at Dole)

Ilanit Kabessa

Head Dole Ventures at Dole

Ilanit Kabessa Cohen is an Agri-FoodTech expert, Venturing & Innovation leader with a proven track record of over 20 years. Career positions include: Head Dole Ventures, Head of Innovation and Digital Business unit, Nestle and Head of Nestle Open Innovation Hub in Israel. All positions were founded and established by Ilanit, including building the unit, processes, team, and end-to-end responsibilities. Ilanit developed an innovation and collaborations portfolio for over 20 brands bringing hundreds of products to markets. Ilanit has been working in the Agri-Food startup scene since its nascent days and is an instrumental member as co-founder of the Israeli Agri-FoodTech ecosystem as well as an active player in the Global Agri-FoodTech VC scene. Ilanit is an investor, a public speaker, startups mentor, and a great believer in the role of innovation & start-ups in shaping the global economy.

Arjun Kapur (Growth Partner & Head of Forecast Labs at Comcast)

Arjun Kapur

Growth Partner & Head of Forecast Labs at Comcast

As Comcast Ventures’ Growth Partner, Arjun focuses on helping existing investments scale efficiently across multiple functions. Arjun brings 15-years of domestic and international operating experience running Marketing, Growth, Product Management, Analytics, Operations, and P&L management. As part of his role incubating portfolio companies, he oversees Forecast Labs which enables startups to test and scale tv advertising. He is also part of the investing team. Prior to CV, he served as Chief Revenue Officer at AAPTIV Inc and help executive leadership positions at HelloFresh, Tictail, Shutterstock Inc.,, and Arjun also serves as an advisory board member at Calm Inc., and Ollie Pets Inc. He graduated with a B.A. in Financial Economic and Integrated Marketing from Southeast Missouri State University.

Alex Kopelyan (Program Director & Partner of IndieBio)

Alex Kopelyan

Program Director & Partner of IndieBio

Alex is the Program Director & Partner at IndieBio. He works with teams to accelerate their science and business through a 4 month design driven program. He also brings together corporate and academic partners to help accelerate IndieBio companies. Alex holds a PharmD from the University of Iowa. He has a background in the clinical, global health, and startup worlds, with experience ranging from regulatory, consumer health interventions and behavior change design, operations, and partnerships.

Wayne Kozun (Chief Investment Officer at Forthlane Partners)

Wayne Kozun

Chief Investment Officer at Forthlane Partners

Wayne Kozun is the Chief Investment Officer of Forthlane Partners, a Multi-Family Office based in Toronto, Canada whose mission is to professionalize and humanize how families engage with their wealth and each other. Previously Wayne spent 22 years at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan where he last served as the Senior Vice-President of Public Equities. In previous roles Wayne led the Fixed Income & Alternatives and Tactical Asset Allocation departments of OTPP. In these roles he oversaw C$75B of assets. Wayne currently serves on the board of the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada and the Michael Garron Hospital Foundation in Toronto. He has served on several boards in the past including Camelot UK Lottery, Maple Leaf Foods and PPI. He holds a BESc from Western University and an MBA from the Ivey School of Business.

Gabriel Kra (Managing Director of Prelude Ventures)

Gabriel Kra

Managing Director of Prelude Ventures

Gabriel Kra founded Prelude Ventures' cleantech platform in 2009, after more than 15 years of experience developing companies, both as an entrepreneur and investor. He is responsible for overseeing the firm’s investments across a broad range of new energy innovations. Gabriel serves on the board of directors for Renew Financial, Ripple Foods, Sense Labs, PLANT PV, ClearMetal and Natron Energy, and he is actively involved with the firm’s investments in Citrine, Metalenz, Zymergen, Spark Thermionics, QuantumScape and Yerdle. Gabriel also serves on the Board of Directors of Activation Energy, and on advisory boards of Cyclotron Road and Prime Coalition.

Todd Krone (Founder and CEO of PowerPollen)

Todd Krone

Founder and CEO of PowerPollen

Todd L. Krone serves as PowerPollen’s Chief Executive Officer, since co-founding the company in 2015. PowerPollen, an Iowa-based ag tech company, offers a breakthrough, scalable technology to collect, preserve and apply pollen on-demand to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of modern farming practices.

Prior to PowerPollen, Todd had a 20-year career leading seed and biotechnology advancements at leading global agribusinesses, Corteva™ Agriscience and Bayer. In these roles, Todd helped apply innovations and biotechnology to improve crop productivity. He led research and commercialization teams for many of the biotech traits currently on the market that are improving the productivity of farmer’s around the world. He was responsible for directing the technical strategy and trait development efforts globally across five commodity crops, including leading development efforts to improve insect control and herbicide tolerance in multiple crops and geographies.

After leaving Corteva, Todd took a leap of faith to focus on solving one of the most significant biological processes in agriculture – pollination. Todd’s vision led him and his team to create the first and only scalable pollination technology for commodity crops. Today, the company continues to attract top talent, including scientists, agronomists, engineers and marketers, and expanded its operations in Iowa, Texas and Puerto Rico.

He is the co-author of more than a dozen scientific papers, featured in global industry and academic publications, and holds four U.S. patents. Todd is a frequent speaker at Iowa universities where he hopes to inspire the next generation of ag professionals and is often invited to provide his experience and perspectives about ag tech innovation to Iowa legislators.

Todd earned a Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from University of Minnesota and a Master of Science in agronomy & plant breeding from the University of Illinois. He is an active member of the Iowa Biotechnology Association, serving on the Government Affairs Committee for the past several years, and serves on the advisory board for ag tech start-up, Sigma0.

Rom Kshuk (CEO of Future Meat Technologies)

Rom Kshuk

CEO of Future Meat Technologies

Rom Kshuk, FMT’s CEO. More than 10 years in entrepreneurship / business development. Prior to Future Meat Technologies, Kshuk was VP of Business Development in Yissum, the Hebrew University Tech Transfer company. Before joining Yissum, Kshuk was Director of Business Development at Evogene (NYSE: EVGN). In 2011, Kshuk headed the operations and business development for Oplon Pure Science, a developer of antimicrobial coatings for food and beverages applications. In 2007, Kshuk founded Green Life Café, a developer of coffee substitute based on date kernels.

Arama Kukutai (Co-Founder & Partner of Finistere Ventures)

Arama Kukutai

Co-Founder & Partner of Finistere Ventures

Arama Kukutai is a co-founder and Partner at Finistere Ventures a pioneer in the Agriculture and Food technology sectors founded in 2005. Mr. Kukutai has been a company founder and entrepreneur in the Agribusiness sector with over 25 years experience in the sector. He served as Executive Chairman of PKW Farms, a successful agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and seafood activities in the Asia Pacific region. Arama also led the New Zealand government’s Trade & Investment agency in North America, following which he emigrated to the USA. He has led the creation of Finistere’s global network in Agrifood technology which includes presence in Tel Aviv, San Diego and Silicon Valley, and Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Kukutai currently serves on the boards as a Director or Observer of current portfolio companies AgGenetics, Invert Robotics, Biolumic, Growers Edge Financial (Chair), CropX (Chair), Plenty, Taranis and Zeakal. Finistere is also a founding member of the Spark Agrifood Incubator in Israel, and is partnered with Sprout Accelerator in New Zealand, as well as being a co-founder of the Radicle Growth Accelerator Fund. Mr. Kukutai is actively involved in the development of the Agrifood investing ecosystem establishing the Finistere Pitchbook annual VC report, and is co-convenor of Farm2050 and is a frequent media commentator and presenter at leading industry events. Finistere has built a global platform investing in the leading Agrifood companies and partnered with corporate leaders including Nutrien, Bayer, Pepsico and International Farming Corporation.

Deepti Kulkarni (Partner at Sidley)

Deepti Kulkarni

Partner at Sidley

Deepti Kulkarni is a partner in the Food, Drug and Medical Device Regulatory practice, who counsels clients on a wide range of matters involving FDA regulatory issues. Since joining Sidley from the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel in 2015, Deepti has focused her practice on assisting clients in launching their products and complying with regulatory requirements for foods and dietary supplements, animal products, medical devices, and prescription and OTC drugs. In addition, she counsels clients on potential crises, such as product recalls, import refusals and other regulatory actions. Deepti’s recent representations include: Providing strategic regulatory counsel to companies developing alternative proteins using plant, microbial and animal cell-based technologies; and Counseling clients that are developing food and agricultural products using synthetic biology, gene editing and biotechnology with respect to FDA, USDA and EPA oversight under federal statutes described in the Coordinated Framework.

Michael Lavin (Founder & Managing Partner of Germin8 Ventures)

Michael Lavin

Founder & Managing Partner of Germin8 Ventures

Entrepreneur-investor, Michael Lavin, leads Germin8 Ventures as a purpose-driven venture capital firm with strong strategic backing from CEOs, entrepreneurs, technologists and financiers across the Food & Agriculture industry. He and Germin8 Ventures bring their combination of strategic capabilities, close-touch and high-conviction investment to the founding teams transforming the global food system with deep tech, science and innovative models. Before founding Germin8 Ventures, Michael was an investment banker and M&A strategist for clientele ranging from boutique founder- and family-owned companies to Fortune 500 corporations across a range of technology, food, finance and other industry verticals.

Rob Leclerc (Co-founder of AgFunder)

Rob Leclerc

Co-founder of AgFunder

Rob is the cofounder of AgFunder, an online venture capital platform investing in agtech and foodtech. Rob is a Forbes contributor and has also been published in TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, Financial Post, and twice in Nature journals. Rob has been invited to chair, speak, and keynote at dozens of global conferences on food & agriculture, technology, and fintech. In 2014, Forbes Magazine named Rob to their list of 'Up-And-Comers'. Rob has been interviewed by Bloomberg TV, CNBC (TV), Wall Street Journal, Forbes, LA Times, Entrepreneur, FastCompany, and Reuters. He has five degrees, spanning Philosophy, Computer Science, and Computational Biology, including a PhD from Yale University.

Josh Lessing (CEO of

Josh Lessing

CEO of

Josh is one of the world’s leading minds on dexterous robotics, previously serving as the Director of R&D at Soft Robotics Inc. His current venture, Root AI, is integrating advanced robotics, vision systems and machine perception to automate agriculture. Josh was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Materials Science & Robotics at Harvard University, having earned his Ph.D. studying Biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received an Sc.B. in Chemistry from Brown University.

Xinyi Lim (Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact of Pinduoduo)

Xinyi Lim

Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact of Pinduoduo

XinYi Lim is Executive Director, Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo. She is responsible for Pinduoduo's international corporate strategy efforts and innovation in sustainability and agri-tech. Before joining Pinduoduo in late 2018, she worked for Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, in both its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst in its Public Equities division. XinYi holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford and a Master's degree from Harvard University.

Sam Pierce Lolla (UX and Design Consultant)

Sam Pierce Lolla

UX and Design Consultant

I've always been interested in design, architecture, and engineering. Before working in design, I created my own university degree in Human-Computer Interaction.

Afterward I was the first employee of YC-backed FarmLogs—just three people on a couch building a data platform to fight big ag companies. I led our entire product design and built our brand. As we grew, I became Director of Product Design, hiring an incredible design team and using design to drive company strategy. We raised $35MM+, grew to 70 people, and onboarded ⅓ of American farmers on our platform.

Later, I co-created a design course at the University of Michigan. We focused on building practical design and entrepreneurial skills in our students, who went on to work at Google, Asana, Microsoft, and other high-growth tech companies.

Now I work both as an independent product consultant for startups. I focus on visionary founders who share my belief that technology, with care, can be a force for good. I've worked with innovative companies in healthcare, agriculture, food systems, higher education, B2B SaaS, artificial intelligence, and many more.
In my extra time, I write about product design and build my own bootstrapped SaaS products. I've also run local design organizations, served as mentor to companies in TechStars and Y Combinator, and spoken about design and creative process at Brown University and various conferences.

Originally from near Philadelphia, I'm based in Ann Arbor, MI.

Alexander Lorestani (CEO & Co-Founder of Geltor Inc.)

Alexander Lorestani

CEO & Co-Founder of Geltor Inc.

Alex Lorestani is co-founder and CEO of Geltor, the conscious biodesign company that has created the largest selection of 100% animal-free, globally scalable, and sustainably cultivated designer proteins. He is strongly motivated by the positive impact that Geltor’s protein design and production technology can have on public health, sustainability, and user experience.

Alex became interested in transforming the global protein supply chain as an MD/ Ph.D. student working to solve antibiotic resistance. He studied Medicine at Rutgers University, earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and holds a BS in Biology from Boston College.

Mark Conrad Mancao (Chief of Staff at Pacific Pension & Investment Institute)

Mark Conrad Mancao

Chief of Staff at Pacific Pension & Investment Institute

Mark Mancao is chief of staff to the president and leads PPI’s communications, technology and design functions. Additionally, he provides support for the Nominating & Governance Committee of the PPI Board of Directors. Since joining PPI in 2012 as the communications and membership officer, his responsibilities have progressively increased to include communications information technology, design, and the management of many special projects. He develops and maintains the PPI public website, members-only mobile app, and the event management and registration platforms. Mark is responsible for the technology infrastructure of the PPI headquarters—hardware and software, on-premises and cloud—and the protection of data and privacy. Since leading PPI's branding project in 2015, Mark has continued to design all of PPI's digital and print collateral, as well as signage, presentation decks, and video and webinar productions. He has accumulated over 20 years of experience working with global nonprofit organizations serving in communications, technology, and design-related roles as well as conflict transformation and mediation in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and two master's degrees from Columbia University School of Social Work and Union Theological Seminary. Mark lives in Oakland, with his partner of 23 years and cat of 20 years, where he embraces minimalism, plays the ukulele, and fosters a fascination with distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the internet of things (IoT).

Lucas Mann (Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners)

Lucas Mann

Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners

Lucas Mann is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners, bringing to the team over 15 years of entrepreneurial management and founding experience. With a focus on helping brilliant entrepreneurs develop modes of disruption in a practical and scalable way, Lucas has lead teams in a variety of sectors, including software and design, media, real estate, hospitality, and finance. His work at Acre focuses on improving human and environmental health by identifying large scale systemic changes to food and agriculture. By partnering with companies that create fundamental disruption, Lucas is fortunate to work with a wide range of experienced specialists in genetics, biotechnology, food and agriculture. Acre investments include Farmer’s Business Network, Inari Agriculture, Evolve Biosystems, Back to the Roots, Spoiler Alert and Impact Vision.

Tony Martens (Co-Founder of Plantible Foods)

Tony Martens

Co-Founder of Plantible Foods

Tony is the co-founder of Plantible Foods, a startup that is redesigning the food production supply chain by combining aquafarming techniques with innovative technologies in order to produce more sustainable, functional and nutritional food ingredients. Prior to Plantible, Tony was part of the management team that drafted and executed a 5-year strategy that transformed a small and traditional agricultural commodity trading & processing firm into becoming Europe’s largest commodity trading company.

Scott May (Founder of MISTA)

Scott May

Founder of MISTA

Founder of MISTA, a new venture funded by Givaudan, the world's largest flavor company. MISTA, which means tasty morsel in Sanskrit, is much more than a traditional incubator. MISTA's mission is to help startups optimize ideas, products, people and investments by connecting startups to a world class food and beverage development facility, capabilities and ecosystem located in the heart of San Francisco. Former VP of Innovation for Givaudan Flavors, Scott led efforts to define and implement the Front End Innovation program to explore what's next for the 250 year old company.

James McCarthy (Research Scientist at Nestlé Research)

James McCarthy

Research Scientist at Nestlé Research

Jim McCarthy currently is a Nestlé Expert in Plant Systems Biology at Nestlé Research (Plant Science Research Unit, Tours, France). Research interests include coffee (systems biology, drought/climate change, nematodes) and plant based materials for bio-based food packaging applications.

David Medin (CEO of SnapDNA)

David Medin

CEO of SnapDNA

David Medin, CEO/co-founder of SnapDNA, has 30 years executive and C-level experience. David has run corporate development, marketing, and product design in both private and public companies. He’s opened opportunities in emerging multi-billion-dollar businesses and has successfully led large global product development teams. His background spans consumer electronics, wireless communications, software, semiconductors, information technology, biotech, MEMS and sensors.

Ron Meeusen (Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox)

Ron Meeusen

Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox

Ron Meeusen, PhD is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and co-founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron has over 30 years of experience in bringing new technologies and products to market. He has led research and development for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health, novel foods and industrial materials. His successful projects include the world’s first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to Federal policy on biotechnology regulatory issues, and active in industry trade groups. Prior to forming Cultivian Ron led the expansion of the biotechnology research and development program of Dow AgroSciences, and founded a successful biopharmaceutical company, Immuneworks, Inc. Ron represents Cultivian on the board of directors of Allylix, Aratana, Proterro and Rivertop Renewables. He was also a member of the board of directors of Divergence, Inc. Divergence was sold to Monsanto Company in February of 2011. Ron holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in plant physiology.

James Mendenhall (Partner at Sidley)

James Mendenhall

Partner at Sidley

JAMES MENDENHALL is a partner in the Global Arbitration, Trade and Advocacy group in the law firm of Sidley in Washington, D.C., concentrating on international arbitration, international trade policy, trade litigation and proceedings before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Mr. Mendenhall has served as counsel in numerous investor-state arbitration proceedings, including under ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitration rules. He has advised clients on international trade negotiations, market access issues, intellectual property policy, product standards, trade policy, national security regulations and U.S. legislative matters. He has represented clients across many sectors, including e-commerce, high-tech, pharmaceuticals, financial services, telecommunications and consumer goods.

From 2005 to January 2007, Mr. Mendenhall served as the General Counsel of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). In that capacity, Mr. Mendenhall supervised U.S. participation in World Trade Organization and NAFTA disputes and handled all legal aspects of U.S. bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations. Mr. Mendenhall also served as the principal U.S. negotiator of the United States-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement and was the USTR representative on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Mendenhall served as the Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Services, Investment and Intellectual Property. While serving as AUSTR, he oversaw bilateral and regional trade agreement negotiations dealing with services (including financial services), investment and intellectual property, and World Trade Organization negotiations related to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Mr. Mendenhall was responsible for monitoring the adoption and enforcement of laws to protect the rights of U.S. owners of intellectual property in countries around the world.

From 2001–2003, Mr. Mendenhall served as USTR’s Deputy General Counsel. In that capacity, he handled numerous trade litigation, negotiation and legislative matters, including the development of the model investment chapter for U.S. free trade agreements that became the template for the 2004 U.S. model bilateral investment treaty.

Prior to joining the U.S. Government, Mr. Mendenhall spent nine years in private practice, concentrating in the areas of trade remedies litigation, international arbitration, trade policy and litigation before World Trade Organization panels.

Mr. Mendenhall has testified before Congress on multiple occasions related to free trade agreement negotiations, intellectual property protection in foreign markets, trade in services and financial services and other matters.

Jonathan Mi (Partner at Brightpath Capital)

Jonathan Mi

Partner at Brightpath Capital

Jonathan Mi is a Principal Partner at Brightpath Capital, an impact investing venture capital firm focused on technology driven climate, food, and agriculture companies. Prior to Brightpath, Jonathan was an investor at Gryphon Investors, a middle-market private equity firm with more than $5 billion in assets under management. At Gryphon, Jonathan executed buyouts in business services and education and developed the firm’s healthcare investment thesis leading to several acquisitions and the creation of the firm’s healthcare investment group. He previously worked for Merrill Lynch, where he focused on M&A advisory services for high tech companies across the U.S., Asia and Europe. Jonathan received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley where he was a Chancellor’s Scholar.
Jonathan is an active angel investor in technology driven climate, food, agriculture, healthcare, and financial companies. He has also advised several impact funds and accelerators focused on women/minority entrepreneurs and food/agtech investments.

Brian Mixer (Management Director of Middleland Capital)

Brian Mixer

Management Director of Middleland Capital

Brian Mixer is a Management Director at Middleland Capital. Brian works with technology companies in the food, agriculture and sustainability sectors. He led Middleland's investments in and holds the board or observer seats in Aerofarms, Arable, Agrivida, Aquaspy, Conservis, Groundwork BioAg, Rootility, Sentera and Shenandoah Growers.

Prior to joining Middleland in 2010, Brian worked in investment banking and held senior positions in multiple US political campaigns. Brian holds a BA in economics from Bucknell University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Robert Morris (Entrepreneur)

Robert Morris


My professional career is devoted to getting technology, particularly robotics, to work for us.

In the Army, I led the first Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle platoon in Afghanistan. The platoon delivered important information to our brigade and enabled new ways of operating. As a civilian, I worked for Deloitte helping the Navy develop unmanned boats. When I when I went back to school at Carnegie Mellon, I studied the problems of managing and financing robotics companies. For more on this see my blog

Previously, I was the CEO of TerrAvion. TerrAvion was dedicated to taking the organization and technology of networked aircraft and applying them to serve agriculture. TerrAvion was the largest volume provider of overnight imagery in agriculture in the US and Brazil from 2017-2020.

Christine Moseley (Founder & CEO of Full Harvest)

Christine Moseley

Founder & CEO of Full Harvest

Christine Moseley, Full Harvest Founder + CEO, is a passionate serial social entrepreneur. Currently, at Full Harvest, she is solving the massive food waste problem at the farm level. Full Harvest is the first B2B marketplace for surplus and imperfect produce, connecting food & beverage companies directly to farms with produce that would otherwise go to waste.

Christine has over 15 years of experience in the logistics and food industries at both Fortune 100 companies (Maersk, P&G) as well as high-growth food start-ups. In her last corporate role, she assisted Organic Avenue, an NYC healthy food + juice start-up, in doubling in size as Head of Strategic Projects and Business Development.

Christine holds an MBA from Wharton Business School and a BA from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. She was recently recognized as Inc.’s Top 100 Female Founders and Fortune's #2 'Most Innovative Woman in Food & Drink.

Aidan Mouat (CEO and Founder of Hazel Technologies)

Aidan Mouat

CEO and Founder of Hazel Technologies

Aidan’s research career started at Emory University, where he earned a BS and MS with a master’s in synthetic organometallic chemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Cora Macbeth (2009). He spent several years working in the medical device industry before entering the Ph.D. program in chemistry at Northwestern University in 2012. His doctoral work focused on the use of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) techniques to design and synthesize highly efficient heterogeneous catalysts for applications in biomass transformations. His interest in catalysis and energy led him to accept a role as the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) chemistry fellow for 2014 – 2015. During this time, he developed an interest in applying his material science and chemistry knowledge to agriscience, co-founding Hazel Technologies before completing his Ph.D. Under his leadership, Hazel Technologies won the Clean Energy Challenge in 2016, and has received grant funding from ISEN, VentureWell, and the USDA. Most recently, the company completed its Seed finance round with lead investor Rhapsody Venture Partners and participation from Valley Oak Investments, VentureWell, and Climate Impact Capital. Hazel Technologies has been active in the VentureWell and ASPIRE programs in collaboration with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, and mostly recently was a member of the Village Capital Agriculture 2016 cohort. Hazel Technologies has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, ChicagoInno, TechCrunch, and FreshPlaza. In addition to his company duties, Aidan serves as an Advisory Board member at the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship at Northwestern.

William Mulholland (CEO of Entolabs)

William Mulholland

CEO of Entolabs

William Mulholland is an entrepreneur with deep startup experience and expert in growth oriented finance and strategic planning. He has led companies through every phase of fundraising, IPO filings, m&a, and developed new markets and revenue models. Most recently co-founded Arrivo where he led finance, operations, and business intelligence.

Xavier Naville (Partner at Vision Management Consultants)

Xavier Naville

Partner at Vision Management Consultants

Xavier is a quadrilingual experienced business leader with a professional track record serving in executive roles across many organizations around the world. Over the course of his professional career, he has become an innovator in the consumer, food & beverage and agriculture supply chain industries, with a specific expertise in the China market.

Earlier in his career, Xavier founded Creative Food Group, a food processing company that supplied some of the largest restaurant chains in China. He took the business from a startup to eight factories and four farms in mainland China with over 1,500 employees across the country. The company served over 3,500 foodservice outlets with chilled or frozen foods, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Costa. As Founder and CEO, he oversaw all aspects of daily operations for seven years before he sold the company to Bakkavor Group from the UK, a strategic buyer, for a successful exit.

Since leaving the business, Xavier focused on advisory work and large-scale engagements with seasoned professionals around the world. In his current role, he is a Partner at Vision Management Consultants, where he advises management teams and Boards on business strategy, and collaborates with Fortune 1000 companies to assist with supply chain or distribution, new product launches, and business development opportunities.

More recently, he has developed a coaching practice that accompanies Vision clients as they execute their strategies. As a business coach he also helps small and mid-size business leaders to scale their business faster with measurable growth and results.

He is also preparing for the publication of “The Lettuce Diaries” -- a memoir about his years in China’s food industry.

Prior to Vision, Xavier served as CEO at Bakkavor China, the food production company that bought the company Xavier founded in 2000. In this role, he helped integrate the acquisition, led capital strategy through growth financing from the capital markets, spearheaded the market expansion strategy for China.

Outside of work, Xavier is active with philanthropy. He was previously a member of the French Junior national fencing team. Today, Xavier lives in Oakland and spends time with his journalist wife and his three children.

Eric O'Brien (Co-Founder & Managing Director of Fall Line Capital)

Eric O'Brien

Co-Founder & Managing Director of Fall Line Capital

Eric O’Brien is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Fall Line Capital, an investment firm focused on farmland and agricultural technologies. Prior to forming Fall Line with Clay Mitchell in 2011, Eric spent 12 years at Lightspeed Venture Partners, a top tier Silicon Valley venture capital firm with over $3 billion of assets under management. At Lightspeed, he was a Managing Director responsible for early and growth stage investments in technology and services companies in the U.S. and China. Prior to Lightspeed, Eric was an Associate at InterWest Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm where he focused on communications, internet and consumer investments. He has also worked for and consulted to a number of technology startups, and started his career as an Analyst in the mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance groups at Morgan Stanley in New York and San Francisco. Eric holds an AB degree in Economics magna cum laude from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

William H. Overholt (Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School)

William H. Overholt

Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School

William H. Overholt has been a Senior Research Fellow in Harvard’s Asia Center and its Kennedy School of Government since 2008. During 2013-15 he also served as Senior Fellow and President of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong. His career includes 16 years doing policy research at think tanks, ten years at Harvard University, and 21 years running investment bank research teams.

Previously he held the Asia Policy Distinguished Research Chair at RAND’s California headquarters and was Director of the Center for Asia Pacific Policy; concurrently he was Visiting Professor at Shanghai Jiaodong University and, earlier, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Korea’s Yonsei University. During 21 years in investment banking, he served as Head of Strategy and Economics at Nomura’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2001, and as Managing Director and Head of Research at Bank Boston's regional headquarters in Singapore. During 18 years at Bankers Trust, he ran a country risk team in New York from 1980 to 1984, then was regional strategist and Asia research head based in Hong Kong from 1985 to 1998.

At Hudson Institute from 1971 to 1979, Dr. Overholt directed planning studies for the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of State, National Security Council, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Council on International Economic Policy. As Director of Hudson Research Services, he also did strategic planning for corporations.

Dr. Overholt is the author or principal co-author of nine books, including China’s Crisis of Success (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Renminbi Rising: The Emergence of a New Global Monetary System (Wiley, 2016) and Asia, America and the Transformation of Geopolitics (Cambridge University Press, 2007); The Rise of China (W.W. Norton, 1993), which won the Mainichi News/Asian Affairs Research Center Special Book Prize; Political Risk (Euromoney, 1982); (with William Ascher) Strategic Planning and Forecasting (John Wiley, 1983). He is principal co-author of: Asia's Nuclear Future (Westview Press, 1976); The Future of Brazil (Westview Press, 1978); and North Korea: Peace or Nuclear War (Harvard Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, forthcoming). With Zbigniew Brzezinski, he founded the periodical Global Assessment in 1976 and edited it until 1988.

Dr. Overholt serves on numerous boards and advisory boards. He has been a consultant on strategic planning and foreign affairs to many corporations, banks and government departments. He has served as political advisor to several of Asia's and Africa’s major political figures at turning points in their history and has done consulting projects for the Korea Development Institute, Korea's National Defense College, the Philippine Ministry of Agrarian Reform, and Thailand's Ministry of Universities.

Dr. Overholt received his B.A. (magna, 1968) from Harvard and his Master of Philosophy (1970) and Ph.D. (1972) from Yale.

Larry Page (Principal at Lewis & Clark Partners)

Larry Page

Principal at Lewis & Clark Partners

As a Principal at Lewis & Clark, Larry is responsible for leading deals through the entire life cycle of investment, from sourcing through governance and exit. He has led seven investments on behalf of the firm, and has served in a governance capacity for five portfolio companies.

Larry specializes in technical deals in traits and crop protection, and in companies at the forefront of the digital revolution in agriculture. Larry joined Lewis & Clark in 2016 after spending time as an Entrepreneur-in Residence at the Nidus Partnership, an investment partnership between Monsanto, Novozymes, and Bunge.

During his time at Nidus, Larry worked as a member of the deal review team, sourcing deals and performing due diligence on potential investments. He also served in a variety of operational roles within the Nidus portfolio, including as Chief Technology Officer of Terra Biologics, and as a Director at PierianDx.

Larry received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, where his thesis focused on the basic mechanics of photosynthetic light harvesting. He conducted undergraduate research on plant molecular biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he received a B.S. in Biochemistry.

Lou Pambianco (Chairman/CEO of Startup Sandbox)

Lou Pambianco

Chairman/CEO of Startup Sandbox

Managing Director Corporate Development Partners (CDP)

Chairman/CEO Startup Sandbox, Inc. A bioscience incubator affiliated with the University
of California, Santa Cruz

World Tomato Society Advisor

As Co-Founder and Managing Director of Corporate Development Partners, Lou assists early stage technology companies in achieving exceptional results by reducing cycle time, accelerating growth and building effective and enduring teams. Many of the early stage companies Lou assisted during the digital revolution of the last half of the 20th Century grew into major enterprises. Among them are Intel, Cisco, Apple, Sun, Compaq and Conner Peripherals.

As a consultant to the CEO and Founder of Conner Peripherals, Lou and CDP developed a road map for accelerated growth and Speed-To-Market/Speed-To- Revenue and Profit that helped Conner Peripherals grow to a billion dollars in revenue in four and one half years, making it the fastest growing company in American business history at that time and Fortune company of the year. Lou has facilitated the Exceptional Growth Model at many Silicon Valley companies since then leading to their rapid and successful growth. As digital technology defined the last half of the 20th Century, bioscience on the digital foundation is defining the first half of the 21st Century. Lou is now accelerating bioscience companies into the commercial markets at Startup Sandbox. The Sandbox BSL1 and BSL2 labs are where entrepreneurs bring their startup companies to advance their basic and applied research. Lou leads the Sandbox team in accelerating these companies into the commercial markets utilizing the Exceptional Growth Model developed at CDP. In a short time, 47% of the Sandbox companies have graduated to the commercial markets. Lou is a competitive ocean sailboat racer. He has successfully raced his ultra light Santa Cruz 40 Red Hawk and his Wylie 46 Heartbeat. He is a member of the six day club of mono hull racers. Crewing on the renowned yacht Merlin in the Pacific Cup, Merlin completed the San Francisco to Hawaii race in six days nineteen hours. And he is an avid gardener.

Helen Pastorino (President at Startup Sandbox)

Helen Pastorino

President at Startup Sandbox

Helen Pastorino has more than 40 years of experience in transforming the real estate industry via technology. She co-founded Alain Pinel Realtors, one of the San Francisco Bay Area's most prestigious real estate companies, driving billions of dollars of annual sales. Today, she is founder and CEO of Pertria, a real estate sales, investment, and property management firm that guides clients in creating investment strategies that generate income, benefit from real estate appreciation, and achieve capital gains objectives. Helen concurrently serves as interim President and Board member of Startup Sandbox, a bioscience incubator in Santa Cruz, CA. Startup Sandbox incubates biotechnology entrepreneurs as they translate basic and applied research into commercially successful businesses. With wide-ranging interests, Helen serves as CEO of the World Tomato Society, growing the organization as a global community with one of the world's largest tomato databases and almost one million members.

Will Patrick (Founder of Culture Biosciences)

Will Patrick

Founder of Culture Biosciences

Will Patrick is the co-founder and CEO of Culture Biosciences, a company that develops automated bioreactor infrastructure and runs them as a subscription service for synthetic biology and biopharmaceutical clients. Today, Culture helps more than 20 biotechnology companies develop and scale their bioprocesses. Before starting Culture Biosciences, Will researched 3D printed microfluidics at MIT and developed robotics projects at Google[x].

Nolan Paul (Partner, Global AgTech Lead at Yamaha Motor Ventures)

Nolan Paul

Partner, Global AgTech Lead at Yamaha Motor Ventures

Nolan is a Partner at Yamaha Motor Ventures, where he is responsible for leading global Food and AgTech investment opportunities. Previously Nolan was Head of R&D Strategy and Emerging Technology for Driscoll’s, the global market leader in fresh berries. Prior to that, he was an investment banker for Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital in the Global Technology Group, where he worked on M&A, equity and debt transactions. Nolan also spent several years in Brazil writing novels and short stories on the philosophy of the human condition. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in Business Economics.

Olga Pawluczyk (CEO & Founder of P&P Optica)

Olga Pawluczyk

CEO & Founder of P&P Optica

Olga Pawluczyk is the co-founder and CEO of P&P Optica (PPO), based in Waterloo, Ontario, part of Canada’s largest and fastest-growing tech community. Olga is an expert in medical imaging, with a technical background in systems engineering and deep knowledge of the science of spectroscopy. Under the leadership of Olga and her co-founder, her father Romek Pawluczyk, PPO launched in 2004 as a research company focused on developing high-end spectrometers. Olga assumed full leadership of the company in 2010 and has grown the company from a research-driven organization to focus on commercialization across different industries (oil and gas, space exploration, medical applications). Olga pivoted the company over the past 6 years to focus exclusively on building quality and safety solutions for the food processing industry. Olga is driven by the opportunity to combine emerging hardware and software technologies to significantly improve the nutritional quality, safety, and sustainability of our food.

Olga participates regularly as an advisory board member in both the meat industry and the Canadian tech sector, with organizations such as Communitech and Ontario Centres of Excellence. She is an active member of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) Foreign Materials Committee.

Olga has a BASc (Engineering) from the University of Waterloo; an MSc (Medical BioPhysics) from the University of Toronto, and an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Dan Phillips (Managing Director of Sandbox Industries)

Dan Phillips

Managing Director of Sandbox Industries

Dan Phillips is a Managing Director of Sandbox Industries. He helped to build Healthbox, an accelerator program that supports innovative, seed stage healthcare startups. Before joining Sandbox, Dan spent several years in healthcare consulting, most recently as a senior consultant with The Camden Group, where he specialized in hospital strategic planning and service line development.

He also spent a few years with Sg2, a healthcare consulting and thought leadership firm, where he worked with health systems in the UK, Canada, and Southeast Asia. Dan earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Michigan, where he majored in biology. He enjoys photography and snowboarding whenever he gets the chance.

Jennifer Place (Investor at Finistere Ventures)

Jennifer Place

Investor at Finistere Ventures

Jennifer Place is an investor at Finistere Ventures, focused on sourcing, executing and managing venture investments driving disruption across ag and food. She has been actively involved with Finistere’s investments in Plenty, Farmer’s Fridge, Taranis and CropX. Jennifer’s investment focus has been centered around the development of sustainable solutions that drive towards the more efficient use of natural resources and related infrastructure. Prior to joining Finistere in 2018, Jennifer was part of the investment team at Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm with over $13 billion under management focused on North America’s energy infrastructure. Additionally, Jennifer worked in the Investment Banking division of Credit Suisse. Jennifer graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Energy Resources Engineering.

Payam Pourtaheri (CEO & Founder of Agrospheres)

Payam Pourtaheri

CEO & Founder of Agrospheres

Founder and CEO. Payam leads business development and manages the company’s day-to-day operations. He also leads the regulatory and IP strategies for the company. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a background in nanomedicine, materials science, and chemistry.

David Rabie (Co-Founder and CEO of Tovala)

David Rabie

Co-Founder and CEO of Tovala

David Rabie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Tovala, a time-saving meal service and countertop smart oven that scans, steams, broils and bakes chef-crafted meals. The idea for Tovala was born while David earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Inspired by the pain point of minimal time to prepare and cook fresh meals at home, David combined his passion for food and technology to solve the problem. Today Tovala is a category defining business with more than one million meals shipped nationwide. The company has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company and TechCrunch.

Prior to business school, David worked in a variety of roles directly under the Co-Founder of the Veggie Grill, the largest chain of plant-based restaurants in the country and ran a chain of frozen yogurt stores in California and Ohio. He learned about the start-up tech industry by launching Draftpedia, the first sports encyclopedia built exclusively for mobile.

David graduated with high honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. in History. At Chicago Booth, he worked part-time for Foundation Capital, led the entrepreneurship club on campus and completed an internship at Google. David speaks four languages, lived in China, London and Madrid, and has been passionate about clean eating since attending a health retreat at age 18. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Elizabeth.
David Rabie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Tovala, a time-saving meal service and countertop smart oven that scans, steams, broils and bakes chef-crafted meals. The idea for Tovala was born while David earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Inspired by the pain point of minimal time to prepare and cook fresh meals at home, David combined his passion for food and technology to solve the problem. Today Tovala is a category defining business with more than one million meals shipped nationwide. The company has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company and TechCrunch.

Prior to business school, David worked in a variety of roles directly under the Co-Founder of the Veggie Grill, the largest chain of plant-based restaurants in the country and ran a chain of frozen yogurt stores in California and Ohio. He learned about the start-up tech industry by launching Draftpedia, the first sports encyclopedia built exclusively for mobile.

David graduated with high honors from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. in History. At Chicago Booth, he worked part-time for Foundation Capital, led the entrepreneurship club on campus and completed an internship at Google. David speaks four languages, lived in China, London and Madrid, and has been passionate about clean eating since attending a health retreat at age 18. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Elizabeth.

Abi Ramanan (Researcher at Google X)

Abi Ramanan

Researcher at Google X

Abi Ramanan is the founder of ImpactVision, a machine learning company applying hyperspectral imaging technology to food supply chains to reduce waste, maximize yields and improve quality, addressing the $1 trillion food waste problem from a post-harvest standpoint. ImpactVision was acquired in February 2020, and Abi is currently exploring new ideas at (Google) X, focussed on using radical technologies to solve big global problems.

Scott Rawlins (Director of Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at Wilbur-Ellis)

Scott Rawlins

Director of Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at Wilbur-Ellis

Scott Rawlins has over 30 years of professional experience in the agricultural policy arena.
Rawlins grew up on a dairy farm and apple orchard in southeastern Wisconsin. In 1989, Rawlins joined the staff of the American Farm Bureau Federation where he served as the Federation’s point person on pesticide policy issues.
In 2001, Rawlins joined Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA), the world’s largest manufacturer of generic pesticides. In 2010, Rawlins was promoted to MANA’s Vice President of Regulatory and Governmental Relations where he oversaw all registration, regulatory and product stewardship activities in the U.S. and Canada.
In 2011, Rawlins was named Director of Regulatory and Governmental Affairs for Wilbur-Ellis where he serves as the company’s advisor on all legislative, regulatory and industry relations programs at the state and federal level.
Rawlins has a long history of involvement in addressing some of agriculture’s toughest issues. He has been an active member of the following organizations and committees:

CropLife America
• Incoming Chair, Strategic Oversight Council
• Member, Communications Committee
• Member, and former Chair, State Affairs Committee
• Member and former Chair, Federal Affairs Committee
• Recipient of the 2017 Lea S. Hitchner award.
• Recipient of the 2018 President’s Award.

Chemical Producers & Distributors Association
• Member and former Chair, Legislative Committee
• Recipient of the 2006 CPDA Industry Award

Southern Crop Production Association
• Member and former Chair, State Affairs Committee

Agricultural Retailers Association
• Member, Public Policy Committee

• Former Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee

Sheldon Ray (Senior Vice President, Investments and Portfolio Manager at Raymond James)

Sheldon Ray

Senior Vice President, Investments and Portfolio Manager at Raymond James

Sheldon is a Certified Portfolio Manager and Sr. Vice President at Raymond James in Washington, DC. He and his partner manage a global balanced portfolio of equities and fixed income for individuals and institutions ( Sheldon's analysis focuses on risk management, corporate governance, global macroeconomics, and long-term geopolitical outlook, in addition to dividend yields, price-to-earnings ratios and other fundamentals. He studies numerous aspects of China's emergence and assesses their impact on nearly all investment decisions. He conducts his own research and maintains regular contact with senior government officials, diplomats, economists, regulators and journalists.
Sheldon began his stock market experience as a young investor (age 14) in the grueling bear market of the early 1970's. He entered the securities profession with Prudential Securities in 1996, and joined Raymond James in February of 2015, after working at Morgan Stanley and UBS. Previously, Sheldon worked for 11 years in the real estate investment business. The first five years were spent in Hong Kong, where he advised senior corporate executives on real estate investments and financing. Sheldon's Hong Kong experience was pivotal in developing his global perspective.
Sheldon currently serves as chairman of the board of the Osgood Center (, on the advisory board of the SEC Historical Society (, on the board of the Foreign Policy Discussion Group ( and on the board of PAL ( He has been active in the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C. for over 28 years, after joining Rotary initially in Hong Kong in 1988.
Sheldon regularly speaks to various groups on China, international financial markets and global corporate governance issues. Audiences include Fudan University in Shanghai, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Alumni, National Defense University, Nordea Bank, the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State, and CCTV During Sarbane/Oxley proceedings Sheldon advised SEC commissioners on non-US securities regulations.
Sheldon has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Louisiana State University and received his Certified Portfolio Manager designation from Columbia University. He lives in Washington with his wife, Mary Beth, and two children, Betsy and Alex. He is an Eagle Scout.

James Rogers (CEO & Co-Founder of Apeel Sciences)

James Rogers

CEO & Co-Founder of Apeel Sciences

James Rogers, PhD, is Founder and CEO of Apeel Sciences, a company fighting the globalfood waste crisis by utilizing advances in materials science to prevent waste in the first place—asustainable approach to the world’s growing food demands. Dr. Rogers leads corporate strategyand Apeel’s team of award-winning scientists in developing plant-derived technologies that keepfruits and vegetables fresh longer so less is wasted. Dr. Rogers received dual undergraduatedegrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Materials Science & Engineering and BiomedicalEngineering and his PhD in Materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr.Rogers was the 2012 recipient of the Frank J. Padden Jr. Award in polymer physics, the premierpolymer physics prize in the United States.

Jono Rosen (Partner at Applied Invention,LLC)

Jono Rosen

Partner at Applied Invention,LLC

Jono Rosen is a Partner at Applied Invention, LLC, a multi-disciplinary innovation company that designs, builds and develops technology solutions in partnership with leading companies and entrepreneurs. Jono is responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities and creating companies that leverage Applied Invention’s diverse technology expertise. Jono currently serves on the board of directors for Weather Build, Inc. Jono holds a
M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law &Diplomacy, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a B.A. from the University of Rochester.

Brita Rosenheim (Partner at Better Food Ventures)

Brita Rosenheim

Partner at Better Food Ventures

Brita is a Partner at Better Food Ventures, an early stage foodtech/agtech VC, and brings 15+ years of food & tech investment, M&A execution, and strategy experience. She is recognized as an expert on the food tech ecosystem, with a comprehensive understanding of sector dynamics and value drivers. She is a frequent speaker on the topic, and her analysis on the Food Tech sector is regularly used by participants in the space to understand the evolving landscape. Prior to Better Food Ventures, Brita spent close to decade advising food & tech start-ups, investors and institutions through her firm, Rosenheim Advisors. Previously she was an investment banker focused on the consumer and media industries at ThinkEquity Partners, SG Cowen & Co. and Robertson Stephens in San Francisco.

Craig Rupp (CEO of Sabanto)

Craig Rupp

CEO of Sabanto

Craig has over 30 years of engineering and entrepreneurial experience. Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM and Iridium mobile stations. In 2002, Craig then joined John Deere, designing and developing their Starfire GPS receiver and Greenstar display. In 2002, Craig founded Alliance Technologies Group (ATG) and focused on providing RF measurement and generation software for high-volume manufacturing, acquired by National Instruments in 2005. In 2012, he co-founded 640 Labs, headquartered in Chicago. His company created a novel cloud-connected data and monitoring device. In 2018, Craig founded Sabanto, a Farming-as-a-Service company that performs field operations using autonomous equipment. He was the first to autonomously plant a farmer’s field in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.
Raised on a farm in Iowa, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University in 1988 and subsequently earned his master’s degree from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1990. He currently has 14 patents.

Ilan Samish (Founder & CEO of Amai Proteins)

Ilan Samish

Founder & CEO of Amai Proteins

Dr. Ilan Samish is the founder and CEO of Amai Proteins. Amai ('sweet' in Japanese) fits proteins to the mass food market. The first product is the world's first healthy, tasty and cost-effective sweetener. Using Agile-Integrative Computational Protein Design (AI-CPD) coupled to precision fermentation, Amai produced the world's sweetest Designer Protein which enables significant sugar reduction without compromising the full-sugar sensory profile. Amai has fee-bearing agreements with several multinationals e.g. PepsiCo, Danone and Ocean Spray. Other alternative Designer Proteins for the milk, meat and plant industry are in the pipeline.

Dr. Samish opened Amai after publishing the world's leading book on Computational Protein Design claiming that he wants to cure the food we eat rather than the diseases that result from it. Dr. Samish has a PhD from Weizmann, postdoc from UPenn and a rich academic career including founding and chairing the world's leading structural computational biology conference. Beyond an academic and entrepreneurial career, Ilan enjoys hiking and dancing flamenco.

Harold Schmitz (General Partner at The March Fund)

Harold Schmitz

General Partner at The March Fund

Harold is a Senior Scholar in the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis and General Partner in The March Fund (TMF). TMF is a unique investment fund dedicated to generating ‘wealth with a purpose’ and solving societal grand challenges by investing in companies at the intersection of food, health and sustainability. Harold recently retired as Chief Science Officer for Mars, Incorporated and Director of the Mars Advanced Research Institute following 25 years with the company. During his career in Mars, Harold held positions within the company in Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Fundamental Research, Analytical and Applied Sciences, Corporate Innovation and Corporate Staff. Prior to joining Mars in 1993, he was a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Needs Research Fellow at North Carolina State University’s Department of Food Science. He received his Master of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Illinois and his Doctoral degree in Food Science, with a minor in organic chemistry, from North Carolina State University. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas in 1987, and in 2011 was honored as Outstanding Alumnus of the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences. During 2014 – 17, Harold served as the Art and Carlyse Ciocca Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis.

Harold has authored and co-authored many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, given numerous invited presentations, organized and/or chaired scientific meetings and is a co-inventor on several granted patents, with emphasis on exploring the relationship between vascular biology and dietary constituents, and generally the metabolism and function of dietary components in modulating human health. His focus on multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral collaborations formed the basis of his interactions with the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Sciences Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable during 2003 – 2013, and he was an active member of the National Research Advisory Board at Washington University in St Louis during 2007 – 15. Harold led the Mars partnership in the annual meetings of the Lindau Nobel Foundation from 2007 - 2018, and since 2017 with the Heidelberg Laureate Foundation associated with the Turing Award, Abel and Nevanlinna Prizes, and Fields Medal.

In 2018, Harold was elected as a lifetime member in the Council on Foreign Relations, reflecting his current focus on food, health and agriculture and the urgent need for collaboration and innovation to improve global health and environmental sustainability.

Matt Schwartz (Co-Founder and CEO of Afresh Technologies)

Matt Schwartz

Co-Founder and CEO of Afresh Technologies

Matt's passion in life is to improve human and environmental health by solving problems in the food supply chain. Before Afresh, this passion led him to launch Statfoods, work in foodtech at The Production Board, manage operations at Simple Mills, and be a vegetarian buzzkill at dinner parties. Matt holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Wesley Selke (Managing Director of Better Ventures)

Wesley Selke

Managing Director of Better Ventures

Wes is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Better Ventures, which backs mission-driven founders leveraging innovations in science and technology to solve big problems. He enjoys rolling up his sleeves to help passionate entrepreneurs realize their vision for building high-growth world-changing companies. Wes has 20 years of venture capital and investment experience with Better Ventures, Good Capital, William Blair, and Ernst & Young's Mergers & Acquisitions group. He earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a BBA from the University of Michigan. Wes has volunteered with organizations around the globe, which has fueled his passion for applying his business skills to build a better world. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife and three young kids and enjoys road cycling in the East Bay hills and Sunday trips to the farmers market.

Ameer Shakeel (CTO & Founder of Agrospheres)

Ameer Shakeel

CTO & Founder of Agrospheres

Founder and CTO. Ameer leads internal product development and external corporate collaborations. He has managed the successful completion of several strategic partnerships that have demonstrated the benefits of the AgriCell technology. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, with a background in biomedical engineering and philosophy.

Gabe Sibley (CEO of Verdant Robotics)

Gabe Sibley

CEO of Verdant Robotics

Gabe is Founder and CEO of Verdant Robotics, Inc., a robotics technology company focused on revolutionizing agriculture through the latest advances in AI, robotics, computer vision and machine learning.

Erik Snyder (Founder and CEO of Drawdown Fund)

Erik Snyder

Founder and CEO of Drawdown Fund

Erik Snyder’s acumen for business and love of the environment led him to be co-founder of the Drawdown Fund in 2018. The Drawdown Fund invests growth capital to scale technologies and businesses that reverse global warming by sequestering CO2 or reducing emissions. The Drawdown Fund was co-founded by Paul Hawken and follows the strategy laid out in the New York Times Best-seller: “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming.”

Prior to the Drawdown Fund, Erik worked on investments held by GLE Capital, a global multi-family office and was CEO of Armada Skis. Erik received his MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) where he was a recipient of the Rock Entrepreneurial Fellowship. Before HBS, Erik worked at Partners Capital Investment Group managing a multi-asset class hedge fund and overseeing private equity investments. Erik’s corporate career began with PRTM Management Consultants after graduating from Cornell University with Honors.

Erik’s background is as diverse as his passions. He has been involved in a number of successful entrepreneurial enterprises, worked for a non-profit in Nepal, was a climbing guide in Mexico, and played professional soccer in Bolivia. Outside of work, Erik spends his time being as active as possible with his wife, Julie, and two boys, Jake (9) and Nate (7). You might find him running through the mountains preparing for an ultra-marathon or skiing in a remote part of the world. Regardless of the adventure, Erik always enjoys coming home to Park City for Sunday brunch with his family.

Ethan Soloviev (CIO at HowGood)

Ethan Soloviev

CIO at HowGood

Ethan Soloviev is a farmer and Chief Innovation Officer at HowGood. His work with Fortune 100 retail and CPG companies combines on-the-ground agricultural expertise in 34 countries with sustainability-driven market insights, helping brands cut through inefficiency and radically transform their business decision-making toward sustainability. Ethan regularly presents on Regenerative Agriculture and Regenerative Business at conferences around the world; he is the author of Regenerative Agriculture, Regenerative Enterprise, and the monthly Regeneration Newsroom.

Kiersten Stead (Managing Partner at DCVC Bio)

Kiersten Stead

Managing Partner at DCVC Bio

Kiersten is the co-Managing Partner at DCVC Bio where she invests in early-staged companies building deep-technology platforms that work tirelessly to develop human therapeutics, improve agriculture, food, and build novel businesses in industrial biotechnology. Prior to DCVC, Kiersten was an Investment Director at Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), which invested in a similar thesis. Kiersten serves on the boards of multiple companies, including past roles in acquired companies Blue River Technology (John Deere) and Vital Fields (The Climate Corporation). She is also a member of the Keystone Symposia Scientific Advisory Board, and the Danforth Center Board. Kiersten has founded several companies following her academic career. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology & Genetics, and an MBA in finance from the University of Alberta.

G. Bailey Stockdale (Co-Founder & CEO of Leaf Ag)

G. Bailey Stockdale

Co-Founder & CEO of Leaf Ag

Bailey is founder & CEO of Leaf: food & agriculture’s data infrastructure company.
He has worked with food & agriculture technology since 2014 as a software developer, entrepreneur, and EIR at SP Ventures' AgTech fund. Bailey is passionate about empowering developers to solve farming, health, and sustainability challenges through food and agriculture technology. With Leaf he contributes to broadening industry access and building the tools that food & agriculture technology needs to scale. Leaf provides farm data infrastructure similar to Plaid in finance, Twilio in communications, or Segment in marketing.

Darren Streiler (Investment Director of ADM Ventures)

Darren Streiler

Investment Director of ADM Ventures

Darren Streiler is the Investment Director of ADM Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of ADM. At ADM, Darren makes strategic investments in startups in the Food, Agriculture, Animal Health and Nutrition industries. Prior to ADM, Darren was at Monsanto Growth Ventures. As well, he served as Business Development Lead for Monsanto’s Global Strategy group. Darren has over 20 years of investment and deal making experience at top-tier venture funds, hedge funds and investment banks. He holds an MBA from University of California at Berkeley and a Finance degree from Boston College.

Manik Suri (Founder & CEO of Colnspect)

Manik Suri

Founder & CEO of Colnspect

Manik is Founder and CEO of CoInspect (, a technology startup that builds software to improve food safety and sustainability from farm to fork. Manik previously co-founded the Governance Lab (GovLab), an innovation center at NYU and MIT that develops technology solutions to modernize government. He is a former Affiliate of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and has held positions at global investment firm D. E. Shaw & Company and the White House National Economic Council.

Ruben Tadmor (Head of Business Development at Stem)

Ruben Tadmor

Head of Business Development at Stem

Ruben is the Head of Business Development at Stem. Stem makes sugars from sustainable sources of plant fiber to replace sucrose in food. These fiber-derived sugars behave like sucrose in food applications, such as cookies, chocolate and ice cream, without the nutritional downsides. Ruben is responsible for Stem’s commercial collaborations, ranging from brand-building partnerships through to ingredient trials with global multinationals. He is a Y Combinator alumnus and holds an MSci in Biochemistry and Systems Biology from the University of Cambridge.

Shara Ticku (Co-Founder and CEO of C16 Biosciences)

Shara Ticku

Co-Founder and CEO of C16 Biosciences

Shara Ticku is the CEO and co-founder of C16 Biosciences. C16 Bio uses biotechnology to produce sustainable alternatives to palm oil. Palm oil is the world's most popular vegetable oil, but depends on tropical rainforest deforestation that emits 1.5 gigatons of CO2 annually. C16 Bio's technology uses microbes to produce an oil that looks and functions just like palm oil, but doesn't destroy the planet. Prior to C16, she worked at the United Nations, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Goldman Sachs. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Texas.

Rob Trice (Investor at Better Food Ventures)

Rob Trice

Investor at Better Food Ventures

Rob Trice is the Founder of Better Food Ventures and The Mixing Bowl. He is leveraging fifteen years in mobile, internet and telecom venture capital to pursue the application of information technology to food and agriculture challenges. Better Food Ventures funds innovators using information technology to make positive impact now in food and agriculture. The Mixing Bowl is a forum to connect food, agriculture and IT innovators for thought leadership. Rob previously worked at global VC funds, including Swisscom Ventures, SK Telecom Ventures and what are now NGP Capital and BlueRun Ventures. Prior to his days in venture capital, he worked at DIRECTV in LA & Tokyo and at a DC-based think-tank, The Center for Strategic & International Studies. He also co-founded the non-profit Corporate Innovators Huddle; is Chair of San Francisco-based engaged philanthropy organization, Full Circle Fund; serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Food, Ag & Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; is a Founding Advisor to the Innovation Institute for Food & Health at UC Davis; is a Member of the Farm Foundation’s Program Committee; is on the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s Honor the Harvest Advisory Board; and an Advisor to the Mista food optimizer. Rob splits his time between Menlo Park and Pescadero, CA.

Steven Valencsin (Founder & CEO of Growers)

Steven Valencsin

Founder & CEO of Growers

Founded Growers in 2011, previously built and sold private soil testing laboratory, a veteran of the US Navy, 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30, Certified Crop Advisor, farms ~1000 acres in central North Carolina

Maurits van de Ven (Co-Founder of Plantible Foods)

Maurits van de Ven

Co-Founder of Plantible Foods

Maurits founded and exited two software-driven trading companies in The Netherlands and after acquiring his masters in finance at ESADE in Barcelona he worked as an investment banker focused on the US CPG industry at a NY based boutique bank.

Matias Viel (Co-Founder and CEO of BeeFlow)

Matias Viel

Co-Founder and CEO of BeeFlow

Matias is the Founder and CEO of Beeflow, a science-based bee pollination company that has proven to increase crop yields to farmers by up to 60%. His company is Headquartered in Ventura, California and works currently with some of the largest farming companies in the world like Driscoll's, Naturipe, Woolf Farming and BASF.

He is an impact-driven entrepreneur working to build a more sustainable and regenerative agriculture. He was TEDx Speaker in 2019 in Argentina, his home country, for an audience of +10,000 attendees and was granted in 2018 with the "MIT Innovators under 35" award.

Climate tech, sustainability, entrepreneurship and skiing are his main passions.

Son Vo (Managing Director of Cavallo Ventures)

Son Vo

Managing Director of Cavallo Ventures

Son joined Cavallo Ventures in early 2018. Prior to Cavallo, Son worked in healthcare investment banking at Cowen and Company where he focused on capital raising and M&A for life sciences and medtech companies. Son holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

An Wang (Co-Founder & Principal of ASW Ventures)

An Wang

Co-Founder & Principal of ASW Ventures

An is a seasoned investment professional with nine-year experiences in finance, innovation strategy, venture capital, private equity and impact investing. With diverse cross-sectoral and functional experiences, she enjoys being a creative and effective liaison between sectors, countries and people. She's been investing and supporting a number of startups in the food & agriculture space for the past five years.

An is currently leading FoodShot Global and ASW Venture Partners, both focus on empowering impactful innovations in food & ag through investments and business-related resources. Previously, she managed a multi-million-dollar investment portfolio for Agriculture Capital and led venture-stage investments at Better Food Ventures. An started her career in investment banking & corporate development. In her free time, An enjoys being in nature, diving, traveling and readi

Xun Wang (CEO of Triton Algae Innovations)

Xun Wang

CEO of Triton Algae Innovations

Dr. Xun Wang is currently the Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Triton Algae Innovations. He is the most experienced technology executive in the algae industry and recently was head of bioscience technologies at Reliance Industries Ltd (a global Fortune 100 company), and CTO at Sapphire Energy Inc. Dr. Wang has been a board member of Algae Biomass Organization since 2016.
Prior to that Dr. Wang had an over 18-year successful career in leading agriculture companies. Dr. Wang was the President of Syngenta China, the Biotech Research and Technology Head of Syngenta in North Carolina RTP, the Founder and a Director of Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute in San Diego, and Research Manager of Corn Genomics in Pioneer Hi-Bred International, in Johnston Iowa.
Dr. Wang is author or co-author of over 50 patents, published over 20 international peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Wang earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Biophysics from Iowa State University, and a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Biochemistry from Jilin University, China.

Steve Watkins (CEO of BCD Bio)

Steve Watkins

CEO of BCD Bio

Steve Watkins received his PhD in Food Science from the University of California at Davis in 1998. In 2000, he founded the early metabolomics company Lipomics Technologies where he served as CEO and CSO until the company was sold to the clinical diagnostics company Tethys Bioscience in 2008. At Tethys he served as chief technology officer, running the metabolomics, proteomics and biostatistics groups focused on novel biomarker and diagnostic development. In 2011 and 2012, Steve was a Senior visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 2012, Steve reacquired Lipomics from Tethys and merged Lipomics with the metabolomics technology company Metabolon, where he served as CTO from 2012-2016. He is currently a founder and director of Verso Biosciences, and the CEO of BCD Bioscience. Steve is an author on over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and is an inventor on numerous patents.

Eric Wedepohl (Investor)

Eric Wedepohl


Eric Wedepohl recently retired from General Mills as Vice President and Deputy General Counsel and now focuses on leveraging his 25 years in the global food business to invest in and advise promising food and ag tech start ups.
Eric joined General Mills in 2001 when General Mills acquired The Pillsbury Company from Diageo. Until 2012 he had responsibility for the legal affairs of International as well as for various U.S. retail divisions including Yoplait, Snacks, Pillsbury, Meals Division, Food Service and Supply Chain. From 2012 he was responsible for the legal affairs of the Corporate Development, Strategy and Business Development groups.
At Pillsbury, he was Vice President and General Counsel of Pillsbury International and for several years while at Pillsbury, he also had responsibility for Diageo’s legal affairs in Asia Pacific and Latin America. Throughout his twenty years at Pillsbury, Diageo and General Mills he travelled the globe to help identify business opportunities, aquire brands and businesses, contribute to the strategies of the business, and resolve complex issues.
Eric began his career at General Foods Corp in 1984 and from 1990 to 95, worked for the Japanese trading house, Nisho Iawai American Corp in both Tokyo and New York.
He is a graduate of Pomona College (1980), and received his J.D. from Loyola Law School at Los Angeles (1984).

Scott Welsh (Director of Key & Company LLC)

Scott Welsh

Director of Key & Company LLC

Scott Welsh has over 20 years of experience as an advisor and entrepreneur in agribusiness, with a particular focus on AgTech. He is a Director of Key & Company LLC, an investment banking group focused on Food and Ag. He also provides technology commercialization, business development and financing strategy services to clients across the agriculture value chain through Fieldstone Innovations LLC. Previously he co-founded several AgTech companies, including serving as founding President for Boragen, a venture backed novel boron chemistry platform company. Prior to that he was a Partner at a boutique project development and finance advisory group in the biofuels industry, and Vice President at a regional agricultural consulting firm. Mr. Welsh holds series 7 and 63 registrations through Stonehaven, LLC, an affiliate of Key & Company.

Emma Weston (CEO and Co-Founder of AgriDigital)

Emma Weston

CEO and Co-Founder of AgriDigital

Emma leads all aspects of the company strategy, investor relations and stakeholder engagement. Emma believes that a talented team drawing on diverse backgrounds but united by a passion for the problem, and a genuine admiration for our customers is at the core of building great products and creating a valuable and joyful customer experience.

Originally a city girl and now a proud farmer, Emma believes that her background as a lawyer, grain supply chain executive, agribusiness entrepreneur, mother of four and her restless curiosity gives her a unique approach to solving for end-to-end supply chain transformation. Coupled with a genuine love of ‘the bush’, Emma’s approach is to think big but bring focus and method to her leadership at AgriDigital.

A sought after speaker on agtech, fintech, women in tech and blockchain, Emma holds an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management, a LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, and a BA from the University of Melbourne. Emma is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and in 2018 Emma was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Digital Commerce Association.

Emma is a director of the Australian Government backed Digital Skills Organisation Ltd, a member of the National Farmers’ Federation Farm Data Code Working Group and Grain Trade Australia’s IT Advisory Committee, as well as a director of blockchain start-up Geora Ltd. Emma is an active tech community member and is passionate about building a more inclusive tech and startup ecosystem.

Named one of Australia’s Top 25 Fintech Influencers in 2017, Emma was awarded Female Fintech Leader of the Year and Emerging Fintech Leader of the Year for 2017 by FinTech Australia as well as Female Fintech Leader of the Year at the 2017 Australian Fintech Awards and won the Eastern Region ‘Disruptor’ category in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Awards.

Emma takes as both a personal and a team value, Be Courageous, and she is not afraid to speak up and values others doing the same. She is motivated personally and through AgriDigital to ensure global rural communities are sustainable, that agriculture is a valued career choice and to build connections between consumers and their food.

Mike Wilbur (VP, Data Services & Field Technology of Agribusiness Division at Wilbur-Ellis)

Mike Wilbur

VP, Data Services & Field Technology of Agribusiness Division at Wilbur-Ellis

Michael Wilbur serves as Vice President, Data Services and Field Technology, for Wilbur-Ellis Company’s Agribusiness Division. In this role, he leads the strategy and development of the company’s field technology software, AgVerdict®. Wilbur is also a member of the Division’s Senior Management team.

Prior to this role, he served as National Director, Seed Technology, from 2010- 2014.
He began at Wilbur-Ellis in 1998 in the Feed Division working in export sales of hay and alfalfa to Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In 2000, he transitioned to Connell Brothers, the specialty chemicals division of Wilbur-Ellis, to work as an Export Manager.

Wilbur relocated to Bangkok in 2001 to run Connell Brothers’ Thailand office, and returned to San Francisco in 2008 and served as an Import and Logistics Manager until 2010, when he moved to the Agribusiness Division.

Wilbur began his career with American Cyanamid in 1994 as a Sales Rep. before assuming the role of Market Development Supervisor. Wilbur is a graduate of Boston College with a degree in Economics. He resides in Hillsborough, California with his wife, Patrice and their 3 young sons.

Mike Woelk (CEO & Co-Founder of Corigin)

Mike Woelk

CEO & Co-Founder of Corigin

Mike is an accomplished senior executive and repeat entrepreneur with more than 30 years of leadership experience in the biotech, clean tech, scientific instruments, and chemistry industries.
Mike serves as CEO and co-founder of Corigin Solutions, a startup that converts low value farm & forestry wastes into high value organic products that help farmers sustainably intensify their operations. Initial products include crop growth enhancers and carbon negative soil amendments that increase soil fertility and sequester carbon for centuries.
Before founding Corigin, Mike was the CEO of Picarro, Inc., a startup that revolutionized the way researchers study carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles through scientific measurements. In this capacity, he guided the Benchmark/Greylock/DAG backed technology company through the global financial collapse into the world’s #1 producer of high precision instruments for greenhouse gas and ecological measurements two years later. He then refocused the company into to a cloud-based, managed services model that transformed environmental compliance and asset integrity management processes for natural gas utilities.
Before being recruited to lead Picarro, Mike served as a senior executive and Vice President Global Marketing and Business Development with Varian, Inc., a $1B publicly traded company.
Mike is a TEDx speaker and received numerous awards including Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in Davos, IHS-Cera Energy Innovation Pioneer and a CNBC Disruptor.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the California State Polytechnic University - Pomona.

Dr. Kunsheng Wu (CSO at Mol Breeding)

Dr. Kunsheng Wu

CSO at Mol Breeding

Dr. Kunsheng Wu is the Chief Scientific Advisor at MolBreeding Biotechnology Co., Ltd in Shijiazhuang, China. Prior to joining MolBreeding, Dr. Wu had been with Monsanto Company for 20 years as a Senior Scientist. He was one of the founder members of Molecular Breeding program in Monsanto, leading the Molecular Marker Development team for a long time. He has extensive knowledge, experience and expertise in Plant Genomics, Genetics, Marker-Assisted Breeding and Biotechnologies. He successfully led the development of a number of commercial products including Vistive soybean, HBC soybean and High Oleic oil seed rape. He also played an important role in Biotech trait development and testing. Dr. Wu received his Ph.D degree in Plant Genetics from Cornell University.

Gregory Yep (EVP, Chief Scientific & Sustainability Officer at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.)

Gregory Yep

EVP, Chief Scientific & Sustainability Officer at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.

Dr. Gregory Yep was appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific & Sustainability Officer in June 2016. He guides the Company’s global R&D strategy, leading and developing IFF’s efforts in innovation, technological development and external collaborations, furthering IFF’s legacy of pioneering firsts. He is responsible for the Company’s global sustainability efforts, a key enabler of our Vision 2020 business strategy.

Dr. Yep joined IFF after holding the position of Senior Vice President of R&D at PepsiCo, where he created long-term science-based strategies for core ingredients and their impact on food, flavor, metabolism and nutrition. He was also responsible for the Gatorade Sports Science Institute - a facility aimed at expanding knowledge on sports nutrition and exercise science to enhance the performance and well-being of athletes. Prior to this, Dr. Yep was Global Vice President, Application Technologies at Givaudan Flavors and Fragrances. While there, he led a diverse global technology group and was responsible for R&D of taste and flavor delivery technology worldwide. Earlier in his career at McCormick & Company, he held executive roles of increasing responsibility in food science. He was appointed to the Board of Directors for J.M. Huber Engineered Materials Company in May 2020 and currently serves on multiple advisory boards, the United States Tennis Association National Sports Science Committee and the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Council. Dr. Yep is a recipient of the Apex for Youth Inspiration Award in recognition for serving underserved youth in New York City; and is also a Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association Excellence in Flavor Science awardee.

It was while at the University of Pennsylvania that Dr. Yep’s 30-year journey in taste, scent and nutrition began. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry, he worked as a researcher in the University’s Smell and Taste Center. Dr. Yep holds a master’s degree and a PhD in organic chemistry from The Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of IFF’s Executive Committee and is based in New Jersey, US.

Greg Young (Managing Partner at Spruce Capital Partners LLC)

Greg Young

Managing Partner at Spruce Capital Partners LLC

Mr. Young is a Managing Partner of Spruce Capital Partners as well as Investment Director at Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund (MLSCF). Previously, he held the position of Managing Director at Burrill & Co., a diversified global financial services firm focused on the life sciences industry. Mr. Young departed Burrill & Co. in 2013 to cofound Spruce Capital Partners, which currently serves as the co-manager of MLSCF and MLS Capital Fund II.

Mr. Young has over fifteen years of experience in the biotechnology industry. His focus areas of investment cover agriculture, renewable energy and chemicals, as well as biological tools and processes which promote sustainability. He has played a senior or lead role in a number of Burrill & Co. and MLSCF venture capital financings and has been involved in the early formation of several portfolio companies.

Since its 2006 inception, Mr. Young has held the position of Investment Director at MLSCF, a life sciences venture fund specializing in early stage investments in agriculture, industrial and healthcare biotechnology. In 2011 he joined MLSCF’s Board of Directors and Investment Committee. Mr. Young has been deeply involved in shaping MLSCF’s biogreentech investment strategy.

Prior to joining Burrill & Co., Mr. Young worked as a molecular biologist focused on protein expression at an early-stage biotech located in San Diego. Mr. Young received his BS in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego and an MS in Biotechnology from Northwestern University.

Scott Yuhanick (Director of Strategic Partnerships at Adrich)

Scott Yuhanick

Director of Strategic Partnerships at Adrich

A background in launching several successful e-commerce health companies, with roles including business development and operations, I am currently Director of Strategic Partnerships at Adrich. Adrich uses IoT and AI to help brands and retailers gain unprecedented consumer understanding through product consumption analytics. This data helps bridge the gap in real-time between behavior and usage data, extending to post-purchase consumer use while enabling automatic replenishment and direct communication to consumers, at the point of use. NYU graduate and Ohio native.

Jianan Zhang (Founder of Molbreeding)

Jianan Zhang

Founder of Molbreeding

Jianan Zhang is the founder and CEO at Molbreeding Biotechnology Co., Ltd in China. He has been engaged in plant molecular breeding technology and applied research. He has extensive knowledge, experience and expertise in Plant Genomics, Genetics, Marker-Assisted Breeding and Biotechnologies. During the period, he won the National Agriculture and Fishery Harvest Award and the Hebei Mountain Entrepreneurship Award; presided over more than 10 research program of China; 4 bred varieties; 35 articles published in Molecular Plant, BMC Genomics, Planta, etc. After founding Molbreeding, he developed the first set of targeted sequencing genotyping technology (GBTS) for animal and plant genotyping in China.

Yan Zhang (Partner at Sidley Austin)

Yan Zhang

Partner at Sidley Austin

Yan Zhang is a partner in the Hong Kong office of law firm of Sidley Austin. Yan a highly skilled lawyer with experience in both adversarial and transactional matters. In her adversarial practice, Yan is focused on international arbitration specializing in resolution of complex Chinese-foreign business disputes. In both Chambers Global and Asia Pacific 2020, Yan is recognized in the International Arbitration category as “Up and Coming”, and clients praise Yan “comes across as very confident, logical and well organised in her oral advocacy” and describes her as “one of few truly bilingual counsel at partner level who can conduct advocacy fluently in the Chinese language.” In her transactional practice, Yan represents venture capital and private equity funds, hedge funds, and multinational companies in mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, fund formation, and other general corporate matters. Dually qualified in New York and Hong Kong, Yan have worked in Shanghai, New York and Hong Kong. She graduated from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and Columbia School of Law in New York.

Joseph Zhou (Partner at Bits x Bites)

Joseph Zhou

Partner at Bits x Bites

Joseph is managing partner at Bits x Bites, responsible for investment, portfolio management, and operation.
He brings 12 years of experience across corporate banking, investment banking, and private equity, having raised more than US$120 million for his portfolio companies in the primary market.

His decision to enter the food sector was driven by one clear motivation: To fight for the future of good food so that his young son grows up with plenty of safe and nutritious food options.

Prior to Bits x Bites, Joseph and two other partners ran Fusi Capital where they self-raised US$50 million to invest in China’s international education sector.

Joseph has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Business School. He is a passionate weekend golfer and a pianist.

Jijun Zou (Deputy GM at CITIC Agri Fund)

Jijun Zou

Deputy GM at CITIC Agri Fund

Jijun is the Deputy General Manager at CITIC Agri Fund, a private equity firm focused on growth and early-stage investments in the agricultural technology and food & beverage industries. The firm has invested in global and local companies specializing across a broad spectrum of agricultural sectors, including crop science, animal breeding, animal health, intelligent equipment, and food & beverage. Previously, Jijun served as Vice President of Research and Development and Executive Committee Member of Longping High-Tech, which is one of the leading seed companies in the world and has research operations and global marketing networks in South-East Asia, South Asia, North America, and South America. Prior to joining Longping High-Tech, Jijun worked at DuPont Pioneer, leading teams for technology development, biotech product development, and global regulatory approvals. Jijun earned his Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from Northeast Agricultural University, China, and received post-doctoral training from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.