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2018 Keynote Speakers

Transforming Our Food System: Bringing Market-Disrupting Products to Reality

Alison Rabschnuk

Director of Corporate Engagement

As Director of Corporate Engagement at The Good Food Institute (GFI) Alison Rabschnuk is set on changing the way we think about the future of food. This international organization is at the forefront of the next agricultural revolution – replacing animal products with plant-based and clean meat alternatives. Collaborating with scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors, The Good Food Institute is in the business of helping foster ground-breaking food tech innovations that are more delicious, safer to eat, and better for the planet.

Alison brings 25 years of advertising, marketing, and sales experience to GFI having worked with brands including Taco Bell, Levi Strauss, Gap, Kiplinger’s, and Parents Magazine. She works with leading food service companies, supermarkets, and restaurants to help increase the quality and quantity of plant-based products available on the market.

Environmental Capitalism: Driving the Sustainability Revolution

Jason Drew

CEO

Described by Forbes Magazine as the “lord of the flies who would be king” Jason’s company, AgriProtein, has taken the world by storm, leading the way in a new industry called nutrient recycling. AgriProtein, which by headcount, is the largest farming operation on the planet, takes fly larvae that are fed on waste to produce animal feed. Their goal – to secure the future of food while also delivering significant environmental benefits.

Jason was awarded the UN innovation prize for Africa in 2013, and already has fly farm projects underway in the UK, the US, South Africa, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

2017 Keynote Speakers

Investing in Innovation – The Ag Tech Effect

Arama Kukutai

Co-Founder & Partner

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 over 20 years of experience in the Agribusiness sector as a founder, entrepreneur, investor, and corporate banker.

He served as Executive Chairman of PKW Farms, a successful agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and aquaculture activities in New Zealand, Asia and Australia. Arama also led the New Zealand government’s Trade & Investment agency in North America, and had a successful career in corporate banking prior to emigrating to the USA. Mr. Kukutai serves on the boards of current portfolio companies CropX and Zeakal.

Ag Robotics – The Future Farm

Steve Rhodes

Chairman & CEO

Renowned for its technological prowess and more than 100 years of success in solving agricultural challenges from drip irrigation to pest control, Israel has been attracting increased attention from ag tech investors, leading companies, and entrepreneurs. With a unique and successful business model that encompasses incubation and government support, Steve lends his thoughts on why entrepreneurship continues to thrive in this vibrant market.

Under the direction of Steve Rhodes, Trendlines International has grown into one of Israel’s leading business consulting firms. As an innovation commercialization company, Steve brings decades of business, finance, and banking experience that has expanded the Group’s activities internationally, including raising funds for Trendlines’ portfolio of companies around the world. Learn more about Steve, The Trendlines Group, and their portfolio of incredible companies here.

A Successful Exit: Spitz Sunflower Seeds’ Sale to PepsiCo!

Tom Droog

Founder

In 1972, Tom Droog immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands with $125 and a piece of advice from his father: “You can spend it once”. With a dream of owning his own farm and growing crops he could market himself, Tom and his wife moved to Alberta, and eventually decided on sunflowers.

In 1989, they bought their first roaster and started Spitz Sunflower Seeds, a brand synonymous with the tasty treat. After 25 years of continuous innovation and a strong dominance over the competition, Tom and his wife were picked up in a Learjet and flown to Dallas where they sold the business to Frito Lay, a division of PepsiCo, in 2008.

Through his inspiring success story, Tom shares his love for farming and agriculture, why he thinks Canada presents a tremendous opportunity landscape for agriculture, and a few secrets on building and operating an outstanding agribusiness.