iF’s team of experts hail from a diverse range of professional roles and industries, but all share a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, and Hamilton!
innovation factory Staff
Prior to joining iF, David was CTO and Co-founder of Awareness Inc. His company raised 20 million in venture capital and worked with brands like New York Times, Major League Baseball, Sony Pictures and McDonalds. David will tell you his sweet spot is where technology, sales, and marketing intersect. He is quick to warn that technology alone does not ever solve the problem. During the 90s David worked for Microsoft and saw the arrival of graphical computing, smartphones, tablets and the Internet. He left Microsoft in 2001 to begin his first start-up.
Director of Operations
Karen is experienced in operations and is a certified Project Management Professional®. Formerly, a part of BlackBerry’s Global Product Operations team where she worked on product launches with major telecommunication partners worldwide, she also held previous roles at Communitech and with other startups in Waterloo. Although Karen is not a native Hamiltonian, she is excited to be a part of fostering innovation and new companies in the city she now calls home. The power of the community brought Karen to Innovation Factory, and she truly hopes to build on that further in her time here.
Over the course of his career, Richard held a series of engaging and foundational roles – stretching from his beginnings in the PC industry running a start-up in the late ’80s, to 20+ years at Microsoft in a series of roles in North America, to 5 years at Rogers Communications’ as Director of Strategic Partnerships team, and, most recently as President & COO of a technology start-up. Richard credits these roles and, more importantly, the people and mentors, with his development of a unique combination of skills, experience, and expertise.
Client Services Manager
Shannon comes from a diverse background with a degree in Political Science and French from Wilfrid Laurier University, to then working at UOIT/Durham College with students, as well as in the culture and tourism sector. Having spent the last 5 years back at home #HamOnt helping entrepreneurs starts and grow their businesses with the tools and resources available IF, as well as her connections in the broader ecosystem, Shannon has found joy in helping our clients be successful. She spends most of her spare time volunteering in a number of roles to make the city a better place, as well as teaching fitness classes at MIP. She loves exploring Hamiltons outdoor space, supporting local restaurants, and competing at the International level in Powerlifting.
Client Services Manager
Andrea is excited to return to Ontario and use her experience to help the Innovation Factory’s clients grow. Most recently Andrea co-founded a tele-vet business in Tanzania called Milele and provided programmatic support to H20 Venture Partner’s portfolio of businesses in East Africa. Before co-founding Milele, Andrea worked at the United Nations and for a social business accelerator called Anza.
Client Care Coordinator
A true student of Hamilton, Greta holds an honours degree in English and cultural anthropology from McMaster University, and an advertising diploma from Mohawk College. She previously worked in the marketing field as an account executive in event management for Walmart Canada. Alongside her husband, Greta is an entrepreneur herself. She owns two businesses: a hard asset investment company and a bespoke jewellery shop. Greta is well-versed in the entrepreneurial experience and is very glad to be a part of Innovation Factory, supporting all the amazing innovators who are truly putting Hamilton on the map. On weekends you can find Greta with her family, exploring all the amazing trails and waterfalls that make Hamilton the ‘Waterfall Capital of the World’.
Richard loves helping ambitious entrepreneurs and companies succeed. Originally from the Isle of Man, Richard holds a BSc (Hons.) in Business and Technology from Sheffield Hallam University, and from 2010, Richard started supporting entrepreneurs and businesses in London, UK. At one of the largest social innovation coworking spaces in the UK, he designed and ran investment accelerators that helped environmental and socially focussed small businesses raise more than $3m in private investment. He moved to Hamilton in 2016 from London, after successfully setting up an e-commerce business, which he sold in 2021. When he’s not supporting entrepreneurs, Richard loves spending time with his family.
Digital Experience Specialist
Zachary Jerome is a computer systems technology graduate from Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology. Prior to joining Innovation Factory, Zachary worked as a software developer for a Hamilton-based start-up. As the Smart Mobility Network administrator on the Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility (CITM) team, Zachary is interested in helping clients get the most out of their technology investments.Born and raised in Hamilton, Zachary is an active member of the community. He is a member of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, Hamilton’s oldest reserve regiment, and frequently volunteers with community outreach programs. Outside of work, Zachary likes to stay physically active and spend time with friends and family.
Manager, Programs and Partnerships
Marketing & Communications
Annie was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, and is a champion of all things #HamOnt, entrepreneurial and small business. Eager to participate in the rapid growth of the city, Annie opened her own business on James St. North called Pretty Grit. She left the business in 2016 to pick up where she left off before opening the shop, in a career in Marketing, Communications, and Events. From 2016 – to 2019 Annie held contracts with The City of Hamilton, Habitat for Humanity, the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton, and Jan Kelley working with clients such as Canadian Tire, Revera Retirement Living, Terrapure Environmental, and more. In addition to working for Innovation Factory, Annie works part-time with Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice managing @emerging.grief a bereavement support Instagram account that attained over 5k followers in 2 years, and runs a grief coaching program that supports folks in grief.
Kaitlyn comes from a background with great experience in the hospitality industry. After completing her honours degree in Communications at Wilfrid Laurier University, Kaitlyn’s passion for the event industry has led her to complete a Post- Graduate Certificate in Event Management at Humber College. She has previous experience working in live events at the non-profit organization Camp Oochigeas, where she assisted in a variety of fundraising events including Sporting Life 10k Toronto Run, Golf Tournaments, Galas, and more. Kaitlyn also has a variety of event experience working with Live Nation in concerts, interactive pop-ups, and festivals. What she loves most about events is bringing people together in creative ways to learn, inspire, and build new connections.
Content Marketing Manager
Trained in health sciences, Bhavisha never expected her professional career to begin in IT and evolve with progressive marketing responsibility for products, programs, and key customer segments. While working within corporate, she completed her MBA part-time, and later launched her own company offering a range of services including strategic business development, market research and analytics, advertising, marketing, and communications support. Her client portfolio gradually shifted to include smaller clients within the education, health care, service, and not for profit sectors. She now enjoys working with innovators to articulate and share their unique stories in support of the impact they hope to achieve. Outside of work, Bhavisha enjoys exploring new places, and has been an active volunteer for various sport, community, service, and charity organizations.
Senior Manager, Marketing & Events
Jennifer has been a part of the innovation ecosystem for more than 10 years and enjoys being a part of the vibrant and collaborative networks in the greater Hamilton area. She previously served as the Marketing Manager for Bioenterprise Corporation, a national agri-tech accelerator. Jennifer is responsible for iF’s marketing, events and communications strategies designed to promote the innovators of Hamilton, and increase brand awareness. Now a Hamiltonian herself, Jennifer enjoys working on her home, quality time with friends and family, and pizza!
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Humera is detail-oriented digital marketing strategist, and a storyteller at heart, with a background in graphic & web design. Born in Pakistan & raised in Dubai, Humera has called Hamilton home since she moved to Canada. After graduating from Mohawk College with a diploma in Graphic Design, she worked with the City of Hamilton to promote services & events through traditional and digital marketing channels. Humera has also helped local marketing agencies & businesses revisit their brand positioning & digital media channels with an emphasis on user experience, interaction and accessibility. At Innovation Factory, she assists the marketing team with streamlining digital communications & design for their programs & initiatives.
Ecosystem and Business Development Director, CITM
Vincent has over 20 years of automotive and advanced manufacturing industry experience, serving as former Vice President at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), where he engaged in supply chain, operations, marketing, international business, and stakeholder engagement. He has had extensive involvement in working with companies to globalize, transform, and technologically advance in the industry. Prior to that, Vincent worked in promoting Hamilton’s attractions and hospitality venues to attract entertainment, conferences, sporting events and tradeshows. Vincent has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business. As CITM’s Director of Ecosystem and Partner Development, Vincent collaborates and builds upon an extensive network of industry, government, and partner relationships to help innovators develop and grow their businesses.
Program Manager, Life Sciences
As Program Manager of the SOPHIE and HEALTHI programs, Alek works to support all companies and institutions that make up the Hamilton Life Science Cluster. Alek is driven by helping life science companies commercialize their innovative products. He supports healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs that are in late stages of commercialization and in need of financing to get to technology validation and first sale. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Alek has an Armenian background. Alek holds a BSc (Hons.) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Ottawa and has previously worked with healthcare technology startups and medical device companies in product development and data analytics.
Client Experience Associate
Evan has been living in Vancouver, BC for the past 6 years and is excited to come back to her hometown of Hamilton, ON. She brings with her years of experience working for startups and biotech companies. Most recently, Evan worked for a spinal cord injury-focused incubator and accelerator program in BC, where she supported start-ups navigating the competitive world of the health tech/med tech industries. When she’s not working, Evan enjoys painting and exploring the Hamilton art scene.
Business & Data Analyst
At Innovation Factory, Jiayi is responsible for process improvement initiatives, data analysis and helping the organization scale across all teams and functions. As a recent graduate from McMaster University’s MSc. eHealth program, Jiayi is excited to continue taking part in the innovation ecosystem within the greater Hamilton region. Previously working on the Clinical Innovation Team at Hamilton Health Sciences and in various research and clinical roles, she hopes to contribute towards helping local startups grow and thrive. Additionally, Jiayi has worked many years at the Royal Botanical Gardens on the Visitor Experience Team engaging with the local community and fellow plant enthusiasts.
Smart Mobility R&D Network Engineering Manager, CITM
Bram Maharaj is an engineering specialist with over 20 years of experience in the Telecommunications industry, both in Wire-line and Wireless networks. The vast majority of his work at AT&T, Bell Canada and Blackberry was in the Technology Development and New Technology Introduction departments of these organizations. Working with various departments and stakeholders to streamline the processes to introduce New Technology within the network, for new services or service enhancements.
Innovation Factory’s ExPERT ADVISORS
Bernard founded a medical device company which he grew and led to a highly successful acquisition by a global pharmaceutical. As CEO, Board Chair and Director, he has led the growth of both start-ups and corporate multinationals spanning diverse industry sectors including biotechnology, diagnostics, medical devices, electronics and high technology across US, Canada and Europe. Bernard is a mentor to multiple university spin-out companies and is our resident Health and Life Sciences EIR.
Julie Ellis is a notable executive and business coach. She provides her unique experience and expertise, gained through 25 years of working first in the corporate world, and then as a leading Canadian entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of award-winning Mabel’s Labels, one of Canada’s greatest small business success stories. As a professionally certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (2020), Julie works directly with bold leaders propelling them to unlock their capacity, leading to accelerated success. She is also Chair of the Board at Angel One Investment Network, one of the most active angel investor groups in Canada. A sought-after speaker and trainer, Julie has developed keynotes and workshops for private companies, corporations and associations, with titles such as “Ignite, Scale and Exit”, “Success Secrets of Wonder Women!” and “Why We All Need to Think Big!”.
Prior to establishing Plutus Consulting Group (www.plutuscg.com), John spent over 25 years as a senior executive and CEO in the multinational Food and CPG industries. He successfully launched many recognized new products on three continents, achieving their branding and sales goals. He now guides businesses in monetization of product innovation, business strategy, change management, organizational effectiveness, brand/product positioning, and retail customer development.
Tom has been working in the technology industry for over 35 years. He currently advises technology companies of all sizes in Business Strategy, Sales Execution, and Routes to Market Structure. Prior to establishing his practice, Tom spent 30 years as a senior executive at IBM, leading teams in their software and services division. He successfully grew these businesses through strong sales execution and effective channel management. Tom now spends most of his time advising startups to medium-sized tech organizations. He has successfully taken his clients through significant growth stages. He brings a unique combination of large company experience and entrepreneurial knowledge to any organization.
Rick is an expert in the areas of Sales Productivity and CRM. He has been involved with the technology industry since 1991 as a Company Founder, Senior Executive, Board Member, Educator, Consultant and Professional Speaker. He currently leads a Sales and CRM Consultancy Practice, speaks at industry events and writes for the Microsoft Dynamics Community Website.
Sanjay provided financial stewardship in building and managing entrepreneurial companies providing SaaS and software/data related services to their global clients and operating out of multiple countries. He also has vast experiences in many other industries in addition to technology. He developed and implemented business specific financial tools, accounting and finance structures, policies, process and procedures as the startup companies were going through hyper growth. He has been a trusted advisor to the senior leadership teams.
Ian is a technology professional with over 25 years of experience creating, managing, and supporting IT and software solutions. He is an accomplished people manager with a proven track record of building highly-effective teams that are motivated to execute and deliver with excellence. Ian has had a lifelong passion for the magic of software and its ability to translate imaginative ideas into solutions that help people be more productive.
Bruce is currently consulting technology companies on commercialization and successful go-to-market activities such as business strategy, investor relations, product management, product launch, market research, demand generation, partnering and business development. He has over 25 years of business management expertise in software and hardware companies specialized in the mobility, healthcare and transportation industry. He previously worked as Senior Director, Business Marketing at BlackBerry and is currently involved in consulting with Ontario start-ups in the intelligent transportation software and autonomous vehicle segment.
As a consultant, Ing Goping established “IngVentions Ltd” as a vehicle to help others “Turning IDEAS into ACTION” because in the results matter as much as the process to getting there. Ing’s own professional journey started 34+ years ago when he graduated as an EE at Waterloo and commenced his career in a start up medical device idea that turned into a very successful global business today. The experiences of technology in medical devices, product development, regulatory affairs, process mapping, real-time software development, business unit management, mergers and acquisitions and participating in two successful exits is still very relevant today.
Inge Christensen has 40 years experience in the creative communications realm. She made her mark as Creative Director at international PR firm, Hill & Knowlton and subsequently launched her own consulting/coaching business. For 25 years, she worked with clients such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, AstraZeneca and CIBC, helping their teams to apply creativity to communications challenges. This included teaching them to pitch their solutions to decision-makers in a clear, concise and compelling way. Inge is also Communications Coach for The Forge at McMaster.
With Nearly 35 years of experience in Quality Management and Regulatory Affairs, Gord Wehner brings extensive experience in guiding innovative medical organizations toward the implementation of an effective quality management systems and navigating international medical device regulatory requirements. Gord continually demonstrates cross-disciplined talents in problem-solving for complex issues in both mature and start-up organizations in the medical device industry. Most recently, Gord’s dedication and energy have resulted in successful quality and regulatory outcomes for organizations and the development of their leadership toward sustained compliance.
With over 20 years experience leading large cross functional teams, Oren brings a structured and analytics driven approach to complex business problems. Coupled with a passionate, and relentless spirit that has seen him through several startup leadership positions, as well as 2 exits. Oren is passionate about win-win strategic partnerships that drive growth, innovation and long term value. With special focus on marrying innovative technologies with strategic multi-national partners, Oren has successfully delivered various partnership models with Tier 1 brands such as Cathay Pacific, Google, UBER, LG, TELUS and more.
David W. Wright
David W. Wright, ICD.D, has spent his career supporting technology-enhanced high-growth companies as an equity research analyst, investment banker and corporate advisor. Through Cassio Capital Advisors Inc. (www.cassiocapital.com), David provides Capital Markets, Corporate Finance and Transaction Advisory and Valuation services. David has analyzed thousands of public and private technology companies, including conducting due diligence of private China-based corporations. As an investment banker, David raised capital, provided Fairness Opinions, M&A advice, as well as authored valuation assessments providing insight into companies’ value drivers. As the Executive Director of Equation Angels / Angel One Network, a local angel group, David assisted with deal flow curation and supported the members with industry education and due diligence.
Gail is an accomplished and solution driven life sciences professional with over 20 years in the field. She is skilled in drafting and negotiating contracts, grants, and intellectual property documents. Gail is an experienced leader and manager whose skills in building relationships spans academic, non-profit, government, public and private industry partners from a range of technology sectors including biotech, aerospace, natural resources, pharma and telecommunications.