Agritech venture forum

Take a look below at the 2024 Keynote Speaker lineup! Sign-up for our newsletter to be the first to know about our 2024 programming announcements as they are announced!

"From Chef to Serial Entrepreneur: Innovating the Future of Food"

Yves Potvin

Founder & President

Join us for a captivating keynote session with Yves Potvin, a culinary visionary and serial entrepreneur who has revolutionized the food industry with his innovative ventures. Trained as a classical French chef, Yves embarked on a remarkable journey that led him to pioneer the plant-based food movement, founding acclaimed companies like Yves Veggie Cuisine and Gardein™. Now, with his latest venture, Konscious Foods™, Yves continues to disrupt the market by introducing the world’s first frozen, plant-based sushi, onigiri, and poke bowls, alongside innovative seafood alternatives made entirely from plants.

Discover the drive behind Yves’s unprecedented success, from his relentless pursuit of culinary excellence to his strategic approach to product development and market expansion. Learn how he navigates the dynamic landscape of the plant-based industry, consistently delivering groundbreaking solutions that redefine consumer expectations. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned investor, or simply passionate about the future of food, this keynote promises to inspire and empower you to embrace innovation and create positive change in the world.

“Unveiling Insights into the Future of Food” | Fireside Chat

Yuan Shi

General Partner

Join Yuan Shi, from the51 Food and Agtech Fund as she sits down with Yves following his keynote session. Gain firsthand insights into Yves’s journey from chef to serial entrepreneur, his strategic approach to product development, and his groundbreaking innovations in the plant-based industry.

Yuan is an investor with The51 Food and Agtech Fund, a $50M deep-tech, early-stage venture capital fund, investing in outliers solving the planet’s most urgent food-related climate, agricultural, and farming challenges.

Prior to joining the fund, she was the Director of Creative Destruction Lab – Vancouver providing mentorship and investment to early stage deep-tech and deep-science companies. Under Yuan’s leadership, CDL-Vancouver reached over $4 billion of equity value creation from portfolio companies; she also launched the inaugural Climate Stream. She is an environmental engineer by training, and led M&A and investment banking projects. Yuan comes from a 4th generation farming background from an underprivileged community, and was a small-scale farmer in British Columbia.

Yuan is a sought-after speaker and moderator, often focusing on the intersection of technology/science, investing, climate, agriculture, food and cleantech. As a community advocate and builder, Yuan teaches entrepreneurial finance, innovation, commercialization, and private equity at UBC Sauder School of Business as an Adjunct Professor to contribute to experiential learning & training of the next generation business, community and industry leaders.

VERDEX CAPITAL | Presentation

Martin Vetter

CEO

VERDEX CAPITAL

Is Advancing Canadian Agriculture
Verdex Capital (formerly AVAC Group) describes its mission as “advancing Canadian agriculture” for triple-bottom-line outcomes. It looks to invest in ways that achieve strong economic returns with measurable environmental and social impact. Verdex invests directly via its AgTech venture studio, Carrot Ventures, which launched in 2021 to commercialize AgTech innovations applicable to Canadian agriculture. It is one of only a handful of AgTechfocused venture studios globally.

Martin joined Verdex in 2008 after 20 years of new product commercialization experience at high-growth tech companies. During his 14 years with Verdex, Martin led many successful investments across Verdex’s technology and AgTech portfolio, gaining an extensive understanding of all aspects of venture capital. He currently serves as a director or observer on the boards of seven companies.

Since 2019, Martin has led Verdex’s Carrot Ventures initiative. Carrot is a venture studio dedicated to forming new Canadian AgTech companies. In 2021, Verdex and Farm Credit Canada invested as limited partners in Carrot Ventures Fund I, L.P., a $15M AgTech fund managed by Verdex.

 

"2024 Venture Capital Outlook"

David Kornacki

Director, Research & Product

As we step into 2024, the landscape of venture capital continues to evolve amidst challenges such as global conflicts, fluctuating interest rates, and persistent inflation. Despite these hurdles, venture investing has demonstrated resilience, setting new benchmarks and adapting strategies to navigate the shifting market dynamics.

We invite you to join us in exploring the venture capital outlook for 2024 with an exclusive preliminary sneak peak of trends in the upcoming CVCA Q1 2024 industry market overview. All insights are powered by CVCA Intelligence, the most comprehensive source of Canadian private equity and venture capital data.

2023 Keynote Speakers

"Unlocking the Potential: Trends & Opportunities in AgFood Investing"

Jaleh Daie

Partner, Chairman & Founder

Listen in as Jaleh Daie, Founder & Chair of AgFood Tech at Band of Angels offers her valuable insights and expertise on the latest trends and opportunities in the AgFood tech industry. As an experienced investor, Jaleh has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing this dynamic sector. In this session, she will share her insights on the most promising areas of AgFood tech investing, highlighting the latest trends and developments that are shaping the industry.

Women in Tech Hall of Famer Jaleh is a seasoned thought leader, biologist, investor, board director, and strategic advisor. Jaleh is a multifaceted thought leader whose career spans academia, business, philanthropy, government and NGOs. She has served the administrations of three Presidents and collaborated/worked in several countries. Her success in navigating disparate careers in both private & public sectors stems from her ability to apply the appropriate mental model to each role.

Whether you are an investor, entrepreneur, or simply interested in the future of food and agriculture, this session is a must-attend for anyone looking to unlock the potential of AgFood tech.

"The Next Green Revolution: How Canada can feed the world, sustainably”

Mohamad Yaghi

Climate and Agriculture Policy Lead

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Canada and critical to our country’s growth, prosperity, and net-zero climate goals. By 2050, we must increase our food production by a quarter just to maintain our contribution as the world’s population swells. We need to grow more for humanity, with less impact on the planet. This can be Canada’s moonshot for 2030 and beyond, if we can harness the imagination and enterprise of Canadians in every sector and geography. Mohamad Yaghi, RBC’s Agriculture and Climate Policy Lead, will examine agtech’s integral role in helping Canada achieve its agricultural potential to become the world’s sustainable breadbasket.

"2023 Venture Capital Outlook"

Christiane Wherry

VP, Research & Product

In light of ongoing global conflict, rapidly rising interest rates, high levels of inflation, and concerns about a global recession, the last few years have seen venture capital and private equity push to new records and pivot focus to respond to various market variables. Join us for a conversation around 2023’s venture capital outlook, and an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and gain insights into the latest markets trends affecting the VC and PE investment landscape. The CVCA is the authoritative source of private capital data, with industry research that connects private capital professionals with statistics and valuable insights to gain a more accurate understanding of the market, the issues affecting the industry, and to best position your organization to drive growth.

Christiane Wherry is the Vice President of Research & Product and Head of ESG at the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA), a voice for Canadian Private Capital, where she leads industry research and provides VC and PE investors with expert insights into the latest macroeconomic trends affecting the private capital industry. A trained economist with deep experience funding Canada’s innovation sector, she has contributed to building multiple companies and to driving change across technology, government, and non-profit domains in Canada and globally. Prior to joining the CVCA, she was a Principal at Quantius, an IP-based lender focused on Canadian Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in knowledge-based sectors. She holds advanced degrees from the London School of Economics and University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.

"Strategic M&A in Agtech - Patient Capital & Open Innovation Models"

Alain Goubau

CEO

Combyne Ag was recently acquired by Bayer Crop Science, in line with Bayer’s broader focus on investing in solutions that support the increasingly digital management of farm operations. Continuing to operate as a stand-alone business, Combyne focuses on building grain marketing management software purposefully built for farmers. Hear from a founder’s perspective on how this unique transaction came to be, and the types of opportunities this model opens up for collaborations and strategic partnerships with other industry incumbents and agtech innovators alike.

2022 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

One tool for One health: Healthy people and planet through RNA innovation

Ingrid Fung

Director of Enterprise Operations and Strategy

The world is struggling to address some serious problems in the face of climate change. Greenlight Biosciences is creating solutions that help solve some of the biggest problems, in food security and human health, profitably, sustainably, and equitably.

Ingrid Fung (Director of Enterprise Operations and Strategy) has spent the last decade at the intersection of life sciences and agrifood tech innovation holding roles in R&D, technology development, and venture capital. Always with a focus on bringing impactful technological breakthroughs to the world. Listen as she shares the story of how GreenLight is focused on creating solutions for the whole world, not just the rich parts.

Silicon Valley Bank Trends & Outlook

Graeme Millen

Managing Director, Technology Banking – ClimateTech & Sustainability Lead

Join Graeme as he shares SVB’s proprietary insights and perspective on the state of the global tech and innovation market. This will include a focus on trends in the AgTech and ClimateTech sectors that are fueling a growing worldwide population, while facing increasing pressure to do their part in reduction of emissions and shrinking the global carbon footprint.

Investors continue to recognize the ClimateTech opportunity and they are doubling down on both fundraising and capital deployment. Graeme will break down what this means for Canada’s innovation economy and the outlook for investment and growth in 2022 and beyond.

From Laggard to Leader – why Canada is poised to move from a forgotten ag-tech ecosystem into a global leader

Sean O'Connor

Managing Director

Catch Sean O’Connor’s keynote session at the 2022 AGRI Tech Venture Forum as he dives into the past, present and future of why Canadian agtech is set to breakthrough.

Sean is the Managing Director for Conexus Venture Capital Inc. & Emmertech. Conexus Venture Capital’s first fund, CVC Fund #1, is a 2019 vintage $32M fund focused on prairie based startups. Emmertech is a new $60M early stage Canadian agtech fund. Prior to Conexus, Sean was on the leadership team of a Canadian fintech, Grow Technologies Inc. (acquired by ATB). He graduated with a degree in Finance and International Business from McGill University.

Next Gen Innovation in Food and Agriculture

Ashlie Benson

Global RC Coordinator

GenZs and Millennials are inheriting a food system that isn’t fit for the future. Representing the largest youth demographic of all time, they bring to the table a unique set of skills, attitudes, and attributes that set them up perfectly to innovate in a new direction. This talk showcases the exciting next-gen startups they are building all over the world, which are tackling food and agriculture’s most important challenges in new ways. And it explains why investing in the next generation is not only the right thing to do – but also the smart thing.

2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Telling Stories: Highlighting Women Innovators in Agtech

Amy Wu

Founder & Chief Content Director

As investment and interest continues to grow in the agtech sector, it is important to document and hear the stories of women, and women of colour, creating new technology in agriculture. Amy Wu, Founder and Chief Content Officer of “From Farms to Incubators” talks about how her documentary, book and how the digital platform of Farms to Incubators has served as a connector and convener for women in the agtech space and those who want to connect with them.

Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement

She is the Creator & Chief Content Director of From Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. It has a mission of highlighting women in food, farming, and farmtech, especially women of color. From Farms to Incubators includes an award-winning documentary short that has been screened at SXSW, and a best-selling book “From Farms to Incubators: Women Revolutionizing How Our Food Is Grown” that was released in May 2021.

In 2020 Amy was named on Worth magazine’s “Groundbreakers 2020 list of 50 Women Changing the World” list. She was also a recipient of the Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence.  In 2021 she was named by Food Tank as one of 27 Inspiring Women Reshaping the Food System.”

Scaling Disruptive Companies | Fireside Chat

Dennis Woodside

President

Dennis Woodside is the President of Impossible Foods. He joined the company in 2019 in the newly-created role and oversees the company’s operations, manufacturing, supply chain, sales and HR functions.

Previously Chief Operating Officer of Dropbox, Dennis is a tech industry veteran and has more than 25 years of experience at both startups and major multinationals. At Dropbox, Dennis helped increase Dropbox’s global revenue to nearly $1.4 billion, and he was part of the company’s IPO in early 2018.

Prior to Dropbox, Dennis was the Chief Executive Officer of Motorola Mobility after its acquisition by Google. During his tenure there, Dennis restructured the business and refined the product strategy, then sold the mobile device business to Lenovo and the cable infrastructure business to Arris.

Before Motorola Mobility, Dennis held various leadership roles at Google from 2003-2012. Underlying every role was the challenge of scaling a fast-growing business with an expanding product set and a consumer pool of literally billions of people.

The Milkman Model, Reimagined

Julia Niiro

Founder & CEO

Julia Niiro is the founder & CEO of MilkRun, a weekly service delivering locally farmed food directly to consumers through an online marketplace. Recognized for solving two key problems of the local food movement: distribution and low pay, Niiro’s two-year-old business grew 15x in 2020 as she and her team helped farmers shift to eCommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Niiro is a Y Combinator, TechStars Accelerator Alum and TEDx speaker and has been recognized for her innovation and resilience, landing on Inc. Magazine’s list of Top 100 Female Founders and Forbes Next 1000 list.

Problem: Farmers are facing extinction

90 percent of small farms in America are on the brink of extinction. If we don’t change the way food is currently distributed, locally grown food will simply disappear. If mega-industrialized farming becomes our only option for food, we’ll have no more farmer’s markets, no more CSAs, and no more farmers who are stewards to the land. Without radical new systems, the only options for food will come from huge corporations pushing profit over people, and we just don’t want to live in that kind of world.

Solution: The milkman model, reimagined

Groceries travel an average of 1,500 miles to get to your local grocery store. We’ve knocked that average down to a mere 35 miles by cutting out the middleman and introducing the MilkRunner —team members that seamlessly deliver MilkRun directly to your doorstep. That means less pollution, less food waste, less cold storage, and more money kept in our farming community which helps boost the local economy.

True innovation isn’t about inventing “more.” It’s about reimagining and taking the very best of what has always worked in our systems. It’s then about applying the resources that we have available to us today to make them better for the people and communities that need them. Join me to learn about how we’re changing the future of food distribution here at MilkRun.

Global Agrifood Tech Investing - An Asia Pacific Perspective

Robert Williams

Director Agrifood

Robert Williams is a director at Artesian, the most active early-stage venture capital fund in Australia which now manages +$300m USD. Artesian is a global alternative investment management firm with staff in NY, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Jakarta, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. They specialize in funds focused on credit arbitrage and relative value strategies across global financial markets. Their VC strategy is designed to access the financial and strategic returns that the asset class can provide and mitigate the risks of the innovation ecosystem, with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Robert leads Artesian’s agrifood VC investment activities and is a portfolio manager for the GrainInnovate Fund and SproutX VC Fund. Prior to joining Artesian, Robert most recently worked as a manager within the agricultural investment team at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, a division within the asset management arm of the Macquarie Group.

2020 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Allison Kopf

Founder & CEO

Allison Kopf is the Founder and CEO of Artemis, the market-leading Cultivation Management Platform serving the fruit, vegetable, floriculture, cannabis, and hemp industries. At its core, Artemis is a data-driven company that believes in people and is using technology to create a world that sustains itself.

Artemis won the highly coveted Disrupt Cup at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Kopf was recently named one of Forbes 2019 30 Under 30 as well as one of New York Business Journal’s 2019 “Women of Influence.” Allison is an Investment Partner at XFactor Ventures and serves on the boards of Cornell University’s Controlled Environment Agriculture program and Santa Clara University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She is a Techstars Farm to Fork mentor and holds a BS in Physics from Santa Clara University.

The Price of Tomorrow

Jeff Booth

Entrepreneur, Tech Leader, and Author

Jeff Booth is a visionary leader who has lived at the forefront of technology change for 20 years. He led BuildDirect, a technology company that aimed to simplify the building industry, for nearly two decades through the dot-com meltdown, the 2008 financial crisis, and many waves of technological disruption. 

Jeff has been featured in ForbesTechCrunchInc.comThe Globe and Mail, BNNFast Company, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2015, he was named BC Technology Industry Association’s (BCTIA) Person of the Year, and in 2016 Goldman Sachs named him among its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs. 

He is a Founding Partner of OtioLabs, Co-Founder of addyinvest.com and NocNoc, and serves on the boards of Terramera, Cubic Farms, LlamaZOO, Synthiam and the Richmond Hospital Foundation as well as numerous advisory boards.

Building the Future of Agriculture & Food

Mark Kahn

Managing Partner

Omnivore defines itself as a “financial first” impact investor, seeking to deliver market-rate venture capital returns while impacting the lives of Indian smallholder farmers and rural communities. Every day, Omnivore portfolio companies drive agricultural prosperity and transform food systems across India, making farming more profitable, resilient, and sustainable.

Power of the Network

John Hill

VP of Network

John is the VP of Network for Techstars, a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program that dreams big and accelerates the growth of tech companies. To date, hundreds of companies have gone through the Techstars accelerator, and John is charged with supporting and growing a global network of tech entrepreneurs, mentors and investors who surround them.

Once an Evangelist at LinkedIn, now the VP of Network at Techstars, John is a huge proponent of “the hustle” and believes “changing the world” can be more than hyperbole. A firm believer that a network needs love and attention, John’s presentation will outline how you can build a diverse network that can actually help forge your career forward. Whether you’re focused on online or offline connections, his speech highlights valuable tips and tricks that every entrepreneur needs to know when it comes to networking effectively!