Meet the Innovation Factory team
Through our unique and diverse backgrounds, the Innovation Factory team brings together extensive experience and knowledge, a passion for entrepreneurship, and a commitment to helping companies advance to market, and become successful.
2700+ businesses supported
Every week, we welcome new client applications and this experienced team is here to support your business with advisory services, mentorship, training and strategic connections so you can scale your business and be successful.
Meet our team
Alek Tirpan began working at Innovation Factory in 2022. He possesses a wide array of hands-on experience across enterprise healthcare technologies and medical device industries.
Previously, Alek worked with innovative medical startups in data analytics and developing software-as-a-medical-device products. Through his role at Innovation Factory, Alek is passionate about supporting healthcare innovators that are in late stages of commercialization and in need of financing to get to technology validation and first sale. Alek holds a BSc (Hons.) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Ottawa. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Alek has an Armenian background.
Alex leads Synapse’s efforts to facilitate the commercialization of innovation across Hamilton’s life sciences ecosystem. In this capacity he supports innovators and entrepreneurs to succeed in Canada’s most dynamic research and education health cluster. Through Synapse, Alex is focused on raising the profile of Hamilton and attracting new companies and investments to the city.
Born in Ottawa and raised in Hamilton, Alex is a proud Hamiltonian who is passionate about contributing to his home town’s economic development and prosperity. Prior to joining Synapse, he worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada), Harvard’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Deloitte Consulting (in both Canada and US) and most recently the Massachusetts Health Connector.
Andrea Guest has worked in entrepreneurship and social business for over a decade. She has been with the Innovation Factory since 2021 where she takes great pride in supporting start-ups through validation and growth as an Innovation Advisor. Prior to joining Innovation Factory, Andrea co-founded a tele-vet business (Milele) in Tanzania, where she also previously worked with women’s health initiatives through Anza’s Social Business Accelerator. Additionally, Andrea has spent time working for the UN focusing on South-South Cooperation. Andrea holds an undergraduate degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a postgraduate degree from Humber College. She is also a certified Scrum Master and holds a certificate in Product Management. Andrea is enthusiastic about the growing Femtech industry in Canada, leading the operationalization of Femtech Canada with the Innovation Factory’s support. She enjoys connecting with women’s health advocates, Femtech entrepreneurs, and leaders with big dreams.
Annie Horton is an accomplished marketing professional who began working at Innovation Factory in 2018. In 2015, she established her own business, Pretty Grit, in Hamilton, demonstrating her entrepreneurial spirit. Annie has over a decade’s experience in marketing, with stints at organizations like Jan Kelley, The City of Hamilton, and Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice. Annie holds a degree from McMaster University, with additional credits in Communications and PR through McMaster’s CCE program. Although she no longer owns Pretty Grit, she continues to impact the community. As a certified Grief Educator and Death Doula, Annie founded ‘Our Loss’, a project providing support for grieving young adults in the Hamilton area.
Asit Deva is a trained business professional and a seasoned technology expert with over a decade of work experience. He came to Canada for his MBA in 2021 and fell in love with the startup world. He has a Bachelors in instrumentation engineering from India and an MBA from Schulich School of Business, Toronto. He has worked with global brands such as Siemens, Johnson & Johnson, and Equifax on topics ranging across web-development, software, analytics, and AI. Apart from work, he is a drummer and a percussionist, and is very passionate about food, travel, and music.
Bernard is a mentor to multiple university spin-out companies and is a resident Health and Life Sciences Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory. Bernard’s entrepreneurial experience includes a medical device company which he founded, grew and led to a highly successful acquisition by a global pharmaceutical company. 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.
Brandon McIntyre began working at Innovation Factory in 2023 and is an experienced graduate researcher and teaching assistant. Brandon has over a decade of experience working in the Canadian Armed Forces where he has led, instructed, and managed a variety of teams demonstrating a capacity to work collaboratively and effectively as part of a team. Brandon is an accomplished academic researcher in both wet and dry lab environments where he employed strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills. Brandon holds a Master’s of Science degree in Biology from McMaster University, and a Honours Biomedical Sciences degree from Brock University. In addition to working for the Canadian Armed forces Brandon enjoys camping, exercising, board games, and spending time with family and friends.
Brent Downey brings over five years of experience in project and program management across the startup, government, and private sectors and is also an established business owner working inside the agri-technology industry in Canada and The United States. Brent has obtained his Masters’ of Global Business from the University of Victoria (Canada), a Master of Science of Business from Montpellier Business School (France) and is a certified Circular Supply Chain Learner from SKKU (South Korea) bringing with him a globalized network and cross cultural perspective to his work inside Innovation Factory.
Bruce is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory and is currently consulting technology companies on commercialization and successful go-to-market activities such as business strategy, investor relations, product management, and more. He previously worked as Senior Director, Business Marketing at BlackBerry. He has over 25 years of business management expertise in software and hardware companies specializing in the mobility, healthcare, and transportation industries.
Carla Silva is a highly experienced and dedicated HR Specialist with over 10 years of professional experience in the field. With a passion for fostering positive work environments and supporting employee development, Carla has played a vital role in various organizations by implementing effective HR strategies and practices. She is committed to thriving in this business accelerator by empowering the workforce, promoting engagement, productivity, and innovation, driving the organization forward and adapting to the ever-changing business landscape. Carla pursued Hotel Management, BCommerce, and holds a HR Management certificate from Bow Valley College. Carla enjoys spending time with family, and loves traveling, outdoors and food.
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 McDonald’s. David will tell you his sweet spot is where technology, sales, and marketing intersect. He is quick to warn that technology alone does not 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.
David W. Wright
David W. Wright
David W. Wright, ICD.D, is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory. He provides capital markets, corporate finance, and transaction advisory and valuation services through Cassio Capital Advisors Inc. David has spent his career supporting technology-enhanced high-growth companies as an equity research analyst, investment banker, and corporate advisor. David has analyzed thousands of public and private technology companies, including conducting due diligence of private China-based corporations. 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.
Evan MacDonald has been working in the startup industry since 2017, starting in Vancouver, BC. She has experience working in the biotech and medtech spaces, supporting entrepreneurs of all stages. Evan found her way to the Innovation Factory in 2022, in her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. Evan studied fine art and graphic design at Mohawk College and George Brown before entering the workforce. Evan still enjoys using her artistic skills in her small business “Trash Queen Boots,” where she paints cowboy boots and other second-hand goods. You will find her at art markets in Hamilton and Toronto.
Gagan Kaur is a marketing and communications professional who joined the Innovation Factory team as Communications Coordinator. During her internships at Mohawk College and DPAI Architecture Inc, Gagan gained valuable experience to establish herself within her field. Gagan possesses a degree from McMaster University in Life Sciences and an advanced diploma in Business Administration Marketing. Beyond marketing and communications, Gagan enjoys creating content about makeup and fashion. Her goal has been to create a space that is inclusive and encourages creativity. Gagan Kaur is a Marketing and Communications professional who has recently joined the Innovation Factory team as Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining the Innovation team, she completed her Co-op at Mohawk College and DPAI Architecture Inc, gaining valuable experience to establish her within her field. Gagan possesses a degree from McMaster University in Life Sciences and an advanced diploma in Business Administration Marketing. Something Gagan enjoys outside of Marketing and Communications is Makeup. She enjoys creating content about makeup and fashion. Her goal has been to create a space that is inclusive and invokes creativity.
Gail Martin is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory and an accomplished and solutions-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.
Gordon Wehner is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory who brings extensive experience in guiding innovative medical organizations toward the implementation of effective quality management systems and navigating international medical device regulatory requirements. With Nearly 35 years of experience in Quality Management and Regulatory Affairs, Gordon continually demonstrates cross-disciplined talents in problem-solving for complex issues in both mature and start-up organizations in the medical device industry.
Greta Black has a long professional history of client-facing roles and responsibilities. She has been at Innovation Factory since 2019 with previous roles as an Account Executive at Shopper Events with Walmart Canada and Marketing Coordinator at Nedco Electrical Inc. 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. Alongside her husband, Greta is an entrepreneur herself. She owns two businesses: a hard asset investment company and a bespoke jewellery shop in Liberty Village, Toronto.
Humera Saud is multi-disciplinary marketing professional, with a background in graphic and web design. Prior to starting at Innovation Factory in 2022, Humera has worked with the City of Hamilton, Hamilton-based marketing agencies and as a freelance web designer to develop dynamic campaigns that emphasize an engaging user experience, accessibility, and brand awareness. Humera holds a diploma from Mohawk College in design and marketing certifications from HubSpot, Hootsuite and LinkedIn. Born in Pakistan & raised in Dubai, they have called Hamilton home since moving to Canada in 2012.
Ian is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory and a technology professional with over 25 years of experience in 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 an immense passion for the magic of software and its ability to translate imaginative ideas into solutions that help people be more productive.
Ing is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory. Ing’s professional journey started 34+ years ago when he graduated as an Electrical Engineer at Waterloo University and commenced his career with a start-up medical device idea that turned into a very successful global business today. As a consultant, Ing established “IngVentions Ltd” as a vehicle to help others in “Turning IDEAS into ACTION” because the results matter as much as the process of getting there. He has a wealth of experience in the technology of medical devices, product development, regulatory affairs, process mapping, real-time software development, business unit management, and mergers and acquisitions.
Inge has 40 years of experience in the field of creative communications. 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 includes teaching them to pitch their solutions to decision-makers in a clear, concise, and compelling way. In addition to working with Innovation Factory as an Expert Advisor, Inge is also Communications Coach for The Forge at McMaster.
Jennifer is a strategic marketing leader, responsible for directing the development and execution of Innovation Factory’s marketing, communication and event initiatives. She provides guidance and leadership to the marketing team and continues to build Innovation Factory’s brand as the catalyst for tech innovation in the region. With more than a decade of experience working in the business commercialization sector, Jennifer previously served as the Marketing Manager at Bioenterprise Corporation, a national business accelerator. Jennifer holds a degree from Brock University, complemented with growth marketing coursework. Outside her professional life, Jennifer enjoys pizza and quality time with friends, family and her many pets.
Jiayi Deng has been involved in the growing innovation and digital health ecosystem since 2019. At Innovation Factory (iF), Jiayi works across all teams within the organization in business and data operations by maintaining the customer relationship management system and running reports for key stakeholders. Since completing her MSc. eHealth, Jiayi continues to be involved in the digital health space through Synapse at iF, taking lead on the annual Life Science Cluster Report. Outside of work, Jiayi spends her time supporting local businesses, taking her Shiba Inu named Danbal on adventures, and working on her small business related to potted houseplants.
Jisun is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory with almost 25 years of experience in building program P&Ls, loyalty program design and technology, international market expansion, and product development. Jisun has first-hand experience with building sustainable business models and helping brands form deep relationships with consumers. Jisun was the Chief Product Officer for Flexiti, a fintech company based in Toronto. In addition, during her tenure as the Head of Client Services at Loyalty One, Jisun developed C-level relationships across major businesses in Canada. Currently, Jisun leads the strategic planning process and oversight as Chief Strategy Officer at Kognitiv.
Joey Sitwell is an adventurous business professional who began working at Innovation Factory in 2023 after studying and working in Ireland for four years. Before starting at Innovation Factory, Joey worked as a Derivative Analyst for Northern Trust Corporation; she also has municipal experience after working for the City of Kingston as a financial advisor. Joey holds a Bachelor of Business Honours with a major in entrepreneurship from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in addition to an advanced diploma in accounting from St Lawrence College. Outside of work, Joey spends her time vintage shopping, trying to find the best iced latte in Hamilton, and reading as many books as possible.
John is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory. Prior to establishing Plutus Consulting Group, 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 the monetization of product innovation, business strategy, change management, organizational effectiveness, brand/product positioning, and retail customer development.
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!”.
Kaitlyn is a dedicated coordinator of all things events and joined the team in 2021. Kaitlyn plans all of Innovation Factory’s signature events that are well known in Hamilton’s business community, including the LiONS LAIR Pitch Competition & Gala, Synapse Life Science Pitch Competition, Big DiF Open House, Future of Transportation and Mobility Event Series, and more. Kaitlyn possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Event Management from Humber College. Kaitlyn’s focus on event planning and coordination has been shaped through diverse work placements in the non-profit and events sectors. What Kaitlyn enjoys most about events is how they create innovative experiences that bring people together, to inspire learning, and form meaningful connections. Outside of work, you can find Kaitlyn enjoying her time at the cottage, where she unwinds and indulges in the simple pleasures of eating s’mores and country music.
Karen is an operations leader and team builder. Karen has been managing and growing Innovation Factory’s business operations since 2017 and brings with her 15+ years of career experience predominantly being in fast-paced, technology environments including BlackBerry Ltd. During her time at BlackBerry, Karen worked on product launches with major telecommunication partners worldwide. Her focus is always on operational excellence and ensuring stakeholder satisfaction as well as positive customer and partner relationships.
Karen holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®). Karen loves staying active in the community and is Chair of Hamilton’s Industry Education Council Board of Directors. Outside of work, she enjoys skiing, running and cheerleading her four daughters in all their many activities and endeavours.
Katherine Noble joined Innovation Factory’s Venture Growth team in 2023 after recently working at the City of Hamilton as a Business Development Officer in the Hamilton Business Centre (HBC). Katherine has also been a business owner herself, operating a multi-award winning flower shop for several years which she sold in 2021. Past corporate experience as a project manager in both the pharmaceutical advertising and medical education industries rounds out more than 20 years of her professional experience. Katherine holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemical Pharmacology, Minor in Marketing degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Soon after graduating, she completed the Council for Continuing Pharmaceutical Education (CCPE) accreditation course. Katherine is also a certified Professional Floral Designer. In her down time, she continues to enjoy designing florals for family and friends. Katherine loves traveling with her family, gardening, a good cup of coffee and walking her rescue dog Booker.
Mark is a fractional CMO, strategic advisor, and entrepreneurship coach for B2B SaaS companies. He provides innovators with strategic guidance to establish marketing foundations underpinned by clear customer stories, go-to-market plans, and tactical oversight. Before starting Marketing Spark in 2008, he co-founded a startup, worked for startups, and was an award-winning technology journalist.
Mohamed Mohammad is a start-up enthusiast with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization. For the past two years he has been working with start-ups and start-up accelerators, honing his expertise in entrepreneurship. Passionate about the intersection of business and biotechnology, Mohamed strives to leverage his skills to bridge the gap between scientific innovation and commercial success. He is also driven by his commitment to facilitating the entry of international businesses into Canada, aiming to contribute to the growing and diverse ecosystem of Hamilton, Ontario, and Canada as a whole.
Oren is an Expert Advisor for Innovation Factory with over 20 years of experience leading large cross-functional teams where he brings a structured and analytics-driven approach to complex business problems. He is passionate about win-win strategic partnerships that drive growth, innovation, and long-term value, and his relentless spirit has seen him through several startup leadership positions, as well as 2 exits. With a 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.
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.
Richard brings 30 years of software and communications experience, with key roles at Microsoft and Rogers. With extensive experience in sales, product launches and management, and strategic development, Richard offers unique expertise in his current role as the Director of the Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility. Educated at the University of Waterloo, he holds a Bachelor’s in Systems Design Engineering and a Private Company Director’s Certificate, preparing him for board roles in scaling companies. Richard also contributes to strategic boards for start-ups, illustrating his dedication to tech sector growth.
Rick is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory and specializes 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.
Ryan Moran is an award-winning marketing & business development professional, and entrepreneur. His previous roles have included, Senior Manager of Marketing at Niagara Parks, Marketing Communications Strategist at Factor[e] Design Initiative, and the founder of Canadian watch brand Locke & King, and co-founder of CoMotion shared workspaces. Ryan holds an MBA in strategic market leadership from the DeGroote School of Business, a double major Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Theatre & Film from McMaster University, and a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Not-For-Profit Leadership from Queen’s University. Ryan has a passion for travel, food, culture, health & wellness, and the Hamilton community, sitting on the boards for both the Downtown Hamilton BIA and the McMaster University Alumni Association.
Sanjay is an Innovation Factory Expert Advisor who has a wealth of experience in different industries. He has offered financial stewardship in building and managing entrepreneurial companies and has provided SaaS and software/data-related services to their global clients. Sanjay has developed and implemented business-specific financial tools, accounting and finance structures, policies, processes, and procedures as the startup companies were going through hypergrowth. Sanjay has vast experience in many other industries in addition to technology and has been a trusted advisor to the senior leadership teams.
Shannon is an equal part advisor, connector, and program manager, supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Innovation Factory since 2017. Over that time, Shannon has advised and supported hundreds of companies across diverse sectors in their journeys to grow and scale. She can also frequently be found supporting IF in the community by delivering “perfecting your pitch” workshops, among others. Shannon holds a double degree in French and Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University. In her spare time, Shannon spends her time competing as an internationally ranked Powerlifter, bikepacking around Ontario, and spoiling her rescue dog from St Lucia, Dean. She also loves supporting her local restaurants (Relay Coffee and Cowabunga pizza are among a few of her favourites) and volunteering to make the city a better place.
Tom is an Expert Advisor at Innovation Factory who has been working in the technology industry for over 35 years. He advises tech companies of all sizes in Business Strategy, Sales Execution, and Routes to Market Structure. He has successfully taken his clients through significant growth stages. Prior to establishing his practice, Tom spent 30 years as a senior executive at IBM, leading teams in their software and services division. He brings a unique combination of large company experience and entrepreneurial knowledge to the organization.
Zach began working at Innovation Factory in April 2020. Zach displayed an aptitude for digital tools as iF went virtual during the pandemic, leading to his current role as Digital Experience Specialist. To date, Zach has deployed several websites and applications in support of Innovation Factory’s ever-growing list of programs and initiatives. Zach holds an advanced diploma in Computer Systems Technology from Mohawk College. Zach has been a serving member of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) since 2013. In addition to training with his regiment, Zach also dedicates his time to instructing new recruits joining the Canadian Armed Forces.
Mentor Moments on Academy
Need a quick boost of advice? Check out Academy at Innovation Factory and meet our community of experts as they each share their top 3 business tips on everything from funding, hiring, and goalsetting to sales, business strategy and sustainable development. Get inspired with Academy’s Mentor Moments.
Meet our Board of Directors
Partner, Trellis Capital
President and CEO, Jan Kelley
Owner and COO, TRIO Capital Group
Finance and Operations Chief, iBlum Learning Company
President Emeritus, NetAccess
Executive Director, McMaster's Industry Liaison Office
Co-Founder & VP Growth at Altus Assessments
President, Marchese Health Care, Ozco Investments Inc.
Director of Business Development, Hamilton Economic Development
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Gatik
CEO, McMaster Innovation Park
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