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Canada has recently launched an ambitious plan to drive national innovation and growth, a large part of which is reimagining and transforming the innovation ecosystem into an optimal place to not only start, but also scale companies to earn millions in revenue and employ thousands of Canadians. However, getting to scale takes many steps and missteps – from developing the flexible entrepreneurial mindset to taking the plunge with your first crazy idea.

At Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, we understand the value of cultivating the scale-up mentality at ideation. We are bringing together experienced scale-up artists who will weigh in insights areas crucial to the Canadian economy and global society. This series is open to all – from new founders to seasoned, serial entrepreneurs.

Sign up for mentoring sessions with experts: To maximize engagement and value for our community, the Scale up from Start-up series allows event participants to sign up for mentoring sessions with our expert panelists and Venture Connection mentors to learn from the best in the sector.

Gain insight from the best: Following the mentor sessions, our featured guests will tackle key challenges and share hard-won insights in a panel discussion, followed by audience Q&A and networking opportunities.


Scaling Up for Science-Based Ventures

2017 Speaker Series

Scaling Up Past 100 Million on the West Coast (Sept 28)

Growing a company from zero to $100 million in Canada isn’t an easy feat, but growing more of these companies is an ambitious goal in Canada's new Innovation Agenda. However, there are great examples to learn from in our own backyard, and they are willing to share!

In this panel, founders will share their stories of scaling to become hundred-million dollar businesses and provide expert insight on harnessing the uniqueness of the West Coast for growth, and what else needs to be done. Not only will they share with the audience, but a limited number of guests will also be able to sign up for short mentoring sessions with the panelists.

Panelists include: 

Virginia Balcom

Virginia Balcom is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence for SFU Venture Labs. Virginia brings more than 20 years experience introducing new products to enterprise customers and consumers to her role advising today's innovators.  A strong collaborator and leader, she’s led marketing teams in many sectors, including retail, clean energy, wireless, biotech, telecom, supercomputing, and most recently, big data and healthcare. Virginia is adept at helping founders and their teams clarify and communicate their value to customers and the market. 

Virginia has established a successful track record at a variety of companies, from start-ups to industry heavyweights. She was a key member of Abatis Systems, the Vancouver startup that made IP consumable and was acquired by Redback. Following Abatis, Virginia successfully positioned OctigaBay’s products as accessible supercomputers. When OctigaBay was acquired by Cray, Virginia led rebranding of the supercomputing giant, bringing three new products to market that year. Virginia went on to lead brand-building at another industry leader, Sierra Wireless, after Sierra acquired Wavecom and brought Wavecom’s M2M products under the Sierra Wireless banner. She gained Strangeloop recognition for their web performance product and positioned LightHaus in retail analytics. 

Andrew Harries

Andrew Harries is the Tom Foord Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business and is a business advisor and corporate director. At SFU Beedie Andrewblends the latest in theory and practice in his entrepreneurship and innovation, product management and resourcing new venture programs. In his advisory practice Andrew works closely with companies on business strategy, financing, leadership and governance, and how to create viable, high growth business models.

Andrew chairs the board of directors at Bsquare Corporation (NASDAQ: BSQR), which delivers enterprise Internet of Things software solutions, and chaired the board at Contractually through its acquisition by Coupa Software in December 2015. He has also served on the boards of the Beedie School of Business Dean's Advisory Board and of Science World British Columbia, where he chaired the organization through the successful completion of a $38m renovation and expansion and a major capital campaign.

Andrew was a co-founder of Sierra Wireless Inc. (SW.TO, SWIR) where he served in a variety of executive roles. During his 11 years at Sierra Wireless the company grew from inception through IPO to over $200m in annual revenues. Subsequently Andrew co-founded Zeugma Systems Inc. where he served for six years as the President and CEO from its initial funding to the revenue stage. Tellabs acquired substantially all of Zeugma Systems in November 2010.  Prior to co-founding Sierra Wireless Andrew was a senior product line manager at Motorola Inc. He holds three US patents and an MBA from Simon Fraser University.

John Livingston 

Listening to customers. Creating a compelling value proposition. Innovating technology. Selling your ideas.  Building teams. Bettering the future.  Getting to break-even. Making money. That's what entrepreneurs live for. And that's what John pursued for 20 years as CEO and Chairman at Absolute Software. Absolute became an industry standard in PC tracking security, working with Dell, Lenovo, HP, Apple, Samsung and Toshiba. Absolute, headquartered in Vancouver,  is now a 450+ person company, with almost 100M in revenue. As a TSX listed public company, ABT reached a billion dollar valuation during 2007. Earlier in his career, John launched a couple of other start-up ventures and taught small business management and entrepreneurship at the BCIT School of Business.  John was born and raised in beautiful Vancouver, graduated from St. Georges school and earned an MBA (marketing and entrepreneurship) from University of Calgary. Today John as an angel investor, invests in start-ups he believes can scale and generate $100+ million in revenue.  John's portfolio companies are:  and

Paul Terry

Paul Terry joined the Providence Health Care Board in 2012. Paul provides the vision and technical leadership for PHEMI Systems, a software company bringing big data to healthcare and other industries. Paul was the CTO and founder of two highly successful start-ups, OctigaBay and Abatis. Over the last 15 years, Paul has become very involved in Canadian healthcare. For more than 11 years, he served as the Secretary/Treasurer and technology adviser for the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, British Columbia’s health research support agency. Paul now serves on the Boards of Directors for Providence Health Care, Genome BC, Life Sciences BC, and Molecular You. Through this experience, Paul saw the need for better data solutions in healthcare. Now as the CIO of PHEMI, he is bringing those solutions to life. A tech entrepreneur and teacher at heart, Paul is working to educate a new generation in big data as an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University. Paul has a B.Sc. and Ph.D from the University of Liverpool and an MBA from the Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom, and is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). In his spare time, Paul is a pilot, yacht master, a bridge life master and ski instructor.




Scaling Up for Social Ventures (Nov 20)

BC’s Lower Mainland is global hotspot for social innovation and social ventures. This sector is growing in influence and capabilities and may hold the key to improving lives around the world; however, entrepreneurs scaling social ventures face specific challenges around funding, replication, politics, and more.  How can ventures overcome these challenges to affect large-scale positive impact? 

Panelists include: 

Bridgitte Alomes

Bridgitte Alomes, CEO of Natural Pod, is a thought leader dedicated to better environments for play, learning and collaboration using sustainable furniture. In her work with Natural Pod, she has helped create over 5,000 learning environments throughout the world. She’s engaged over 20,000 educators through her workshops and presentations and has been dedicated to creating play-based pedagogy and sharing the importance of the learning environment design. Bridgitte also serves as President on the board of the Green Schools National Network, creating broad-based initiatives and successful strategies aimed at fostering healthy, sustainable K-12 schools across the United States.

Richard Muller

Richard Muller is the Principal of Sum Things Ventured, a private equity and management consulting firm focused on mission-based organizations and social enterprises. He brings thirty years of marketing, business development and strategic planning experience to clients across a range of sectors, including retail, tourism, technology and financial services. He is also an Advisor to GrantBook, a managed services provider to foundations and other grant-making organizations in both Canada and the United States. 
Prior to founding his current company, Richard held a number of senior management positions for over ten years across North America with Young & Rubicam (Y&R), a leading global advertising and communications firm. His business units provided customer relationship management, loyalty marketing and analytics services to clients such as Microsoft, Sprint, and Aetna. He began his stint with Y&R after he and a group of partners sold their database marketing company to the agency in 1999. Before that, Richard had also successfully started and managed a marketing research company, serving the needs of community-based financial institutions across Canada. 
An MBA graduate from the University of Western Ontario and a BA graduate from the University of British Columbia, Richard has been interested and involved throughout his career in increasing the amount of both individual and institutional capital committed to impact investing. He helped launch Ethical Funds across the Canadian credit union system to provide members with a socially-responsible investment alternative to conventional mutual funds. He has also worked directly with portfolio companies funded by the VanCity Community Foundation operated by VanCity Savings Credit Union, one of the largest community-based financial institutions in the world.

Lisa Von Sturmer

Having started her career in television working in professional sports for an MMA fight show and other various creative agencies as an editor, Lisa von Sturmer realized that she wanted to spend her life doing something positive that had a tangible impact on the community. In 2010, she quit her successful editing career, founded Growing City and never looked back.

Now an award-winning entrepreneur and official CBC Dragons’ Den Slayer and “Game Changer”, Lisa von Sturmer has founded and co-founded two companies in the past 4 years. She recently presented her first TedxTalk on social entrepreneurship, is the current Canadian Global Ambassador for International Women's Entrepreneurship Day and is an active advocate for youth entrepreneurship.

Lisa is also a member of the Leadership Committee for the Canadian Delegation of the G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Summit where delegates from each G20 nation come together in tandem with the G20 to create policies governments can implement to encourage entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment.

Passionate about entrepreneurship as a means to creating a fulfilling life path, Lisa spends time speaking to youth groups and students on how to create businesses they love and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Donovan Woollard

Donovan Woollard is the managing director of RADIUS Ventures, an impact venture accelerator at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, funded by Vancity Credit Union. In this role, Donovan helps a cluster of local food and sustainable transportation ventures become market- and investor-ready. Donovan previously established Transom Enterprises to help launch and grow responsible business initiatives. Prior to Transom, Donovan spent four years as founding COO with Offsetters, Canada’s leading carbon management firm. He joined as Offsetters’ first employee and built it into a 24-person team with a blue-chip list of clients and partners. He has also worked for Vancity, BC Hydro, and Ecotrust, and worked the graveyard shift at a half-way house. Donovan has a Master of Business Administration, a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Community Economic Development, and an undergraduate degree (Hon.) in philosophy.




Scaling Up Science Based Companies in Canada (Dec 6)

Science-based companies create lasting local advantage, transform industries and tackle key global challenges like disease, clean energy and climate change. They also take decades to develop, require substantial R&D investment and, often, substantial patient capital.  How do we scale-up science-based companies in Canada? 

Panelists include: 

Andrew Booth

Andrew Booth is the Chief Commercial Officer at STEMCELL. Andrew was appointed to his position in 2017 after nearly 4 years as STEMCELL’s Chief Financial Officer and is responsible for corporate development within the company. Andrew joined STEMCELL in 2010 to lead the development of STEMCELL’s Instrumentation Division responsible for all activities relating to the design, development, manufacture, service, quality control, marketing and sales of STEMCELL’s line of laboratory automation devices. Prior to joining STEMCELL, Andrew spent approximately 7 years at General Electric (GE) in Koln, Paris, New York, Florence and London in a variety of positions and ending in roles leading Business Development (responsible for mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships) for GE Healthcare’s approximately $4.5 billion revenue Europe, Middle East, & Africa business and GE Healthcare’s approximately $1.8 billion revenue global Life Sciences business. Andrew is also a graduate of GE’s corporate Experienced Commercial Leadership Program. Andrew completed his Master of Business Administration with a focus in finance in 2003 at, INSEAD in France and completed his BASc in Engineering Physics with honours at the University of British Columbia in 1998. Immediately following graduation as an engineer, Andrew worked for Creo Technologies in Vancouver in product design, product management and business development. In 1996 Andrew co-founded Zaber Technologies in Vancouver which produces and sells micro positioning equipment globally. Andrew is a Director on the Boards of the BC Tech Association and Life Sciences British Columbia and a director on the boards of Vancouver based companies Light Integra, Precision Nanosystems, and AbCellera. He is also a frequent volunteer and mentor of the BC New Ventures Business Plan Competition. In 2012, Andrew was named to Business In Vancouver’s Top Forty under 40 list.

Nancy Harrison

Nancy Harrison is former Co-founder and President of MSI Methylation Sciences, a private venture backed development company with a novel treatment of depression in a Phase II clinical trial. She is a former Partner and Senior Vice President of Ventures West Management Inc. Nancy spent 13 years with Ventures West leading its life sciences practice in Canada and the U.S. She is one of the most experienced life sciences investors in the Canadian venture capital industry and was instrumental in Ventures West’s involvement in the sector and with companies such as Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., AnorMed Inc., Salmedix Inc. and Oncogenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. During her time with Ventures West, the firm grew from approximately $80 million to over $750 million. Nancy has an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Queen’s University and an MBA from McGill University.

Elicia Maine

Specializing in technological innovation and science entrepreneurship, Professor Elicia Maine has used her expertise at home and abroad to guide innovation policy and strategy and to mentor emerging talent. Founding educational coordinator for New Ventures BC, and Academic Director of “Invention to Innovation,” a novel graduate program in Science & Technology Commercialization, Prof. Maine was awarded the 2017 TD / Canada Trust Distinguished Teaching Award and was a finalist for BC TECH’s 2016 “Person of the Year” award.  An interdisciplinary scholar and engaged educator, she holds a PhD in Technology Management & Materials Engineering from Cambridge University and master’s degrees in Technology & Policy and Materials Engineering from MIT.  Prof. Maine teaches “Managing Technological Innovation” and “Lab to Market” at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, and has published her research on innovation management in Research Policy, R&D Management, Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Materials.  She serves on the Boards of Directors of the Foresight Cleantech Accelerator and of BC Innovation Council’s New Ventures BC.


About the Series Moderator

Sarah Lubik - One of Canada's 10 Federal Innovation Leaders

Sarah Lubik is SFU's Director of Entrepreneurship and is focused on aligning and accelerating entrepreneurship support across faculties within SFU and with SFU's partners, including pre-SFU partnership, education and early-stage incubation. Her background is in university entrepreneurship, commercialization, innovation ecosystems and incubation. Sarah is a lecturer in Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Beedie School and the co-champion of Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU. She is also a Mentor in Residence at Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection.

Prior to joining SFU, Sarah worked in the Centre for Technology Management at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge. She has also worked as a business coach, specializing in market analysis and strategy, and project manager and coordinator on a number of international European projects aimed at supporting start-up firms through incubation. She is also the co-founder and Marketing Director of a high-tech manufacturing startup, Lungfish Dive Systems. Sarah has a BBA (honours) from SFU and her Masters and PhD in Technology Commercialization from the University of Cambridge.


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Get the latest news on Venture Connection - from venture success stories to events and more!