Meet Our executives in Residence & Mentors
The Faces Behind Our Success
Neil Huff has over 30 years experience in operational and senior management positions with companies ranging from seed stage start-ups to multi-nationals such as GE and Rockwell International. He spent 5 years as CEO of Ballard Powers lithium battery division and was instrumental in spinning that division out of Ballard which was subsequently purchased by Eagle Picher Energy Products. He was most recently co-founder, President and CEO of Tekion Inc. which was founded 10 years ago and is focused on the commercialization of low cost micro fuel cell systems using formic acid as a fuel. Mr. Huff has a Chemical Engineering degree from Queens University and an MBA from the University of Toronto.
Mr. Gillard is General Partner at Pangaea Ventures Ltd., an industry leader in early stage advanced materials investment. He joined Pangaea in 2010. Mr. Gillard has over twenty years’ experience as an investor and entrepreneur, with the past twelve years focused on Cleantech and advanced materials.
From 2006-2010, Mr. Gillard served as President of BASF Venture Capital America. He was responsible for the establishment of the Silicon Valley office and expansion of the team. Mr. Gillard led investments into SDCmaterials Inc., Luca Technologies LLC, Ultracell Corporation, Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., Sciona, Inc., and ARCH Ventures VII, among others. From 2001-2006, Mr. Gillard was with Mitsubishi Corporation and responsible for venture investment and business development activities in Canada, with a specific focus on Cleantech. He was instrumental in establishing Japanese markets and partners for several Canadian and American Cleantech companies, with a special focus on fuel cells, solar and smart grid applications. Prior to joining Mitsubishi, Mr. Gillard began his career in investment banking, structuring mergers and acquisitions as well as manufacturing technology joint ventures into China. In the late '90's, he spent five years as an full-time entrepreneur, establishing three IT companies in succession. Mr. Gillard sits on the board of directors of Vestaron Corporation and NewLeaf Symbiotics Inc. He is also the co-author of “Inside the Minds: Energy Venture Capital Best Practices”, published in 2008 by Aspatore Books. Outside of work, he is a high-energy father of two, an avid cyclist and a Canadian Independent Music Award winner.
Mark Longo has worked in corporate finance, M&A, and technology law for 20 years. During his career, he has served in General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and senior executive capacities for a number of private and publicly traded technology companies, including Intrinsyc Software International Inc. and Star Data Systems Inc. Mark also worked as Vice President Business Development, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary for Datawire Communication Networks Inc., a privately held company that provided Internet transaction delivery services to the payment processing market. During his tenure with the company, Mark was a member of the negotiation team and acted as lead counsel in the sale of the Datawire to First Data Corporation in 2007. Prior to joining the LaBarge Weinstein team in September 2012, Mark worked in the Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Finance, and Technology Groups for a Vancouver-based law firm, where he served as a partner for three years.
Having earned an LL.B. from Queen’s University in 1992, Mark also obtained his Masters of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in 2001. Mark is called to the Bar in BC and Ontario. Mark’s hobbies include playing and coaching/managing his daughter and son in various sports, including hockey, volleyball and squash, and climbing the North Shore mountains in Vancouver.
Elicia Maine is a Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Simon Fraser University. She is also the Academic Director of the Invention to Innovation program, aimed at giving PhD Scientists and Engineers the skills to lead Science & Technology Commercialization. Prof. Maine teaches Managing Technological Innovation in the Management of Technology MBA program, Managing Innovation in the Executive MBA program, and Lab to Market in the Invention to Innovation program at SFU Beedie School of Business. She has used her expertise at home and abroad to guide innovation policy and strategy and to mentor emerging talent. Shaped by formative experiences at Shad Valley and at M.I.T., she is passionate about the positive impact that can be made by scientist-entrepreneurs in addressing global challenges. Dr. Maine holds a PhD in Technology Management from the University of Cambridge, Masters degrees in Technology & Policy and in Materials Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Bachelors degrees in Materials Engineering and in English from Queens University. She publishes extensively on Innovation Management in journals such as Research Policy, R&D Management, Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Materials. She has worked in industry as a strategy consultant, specializing in technology management in the automotive sector and in advanced materials sectors. She is active as a speaker on innovation policy and the commercialization of science.
Jeanette is an experienced CEO, entrepreneur and business strategist with broad-based experience in technology, business development, marketing and operations. Jeanette brings innovation, integrity and passion to all projects and is thrilled to bring her tenacious commitment to help Foresight achieve its next phase of growth milestones.
With local clean-tech company, Light-Based Technologies, Jeanette held the position of founding CEO. She successfully raised millions in investment funding, established partnerships to maximize revenue potential, led cross-functional teams to deliver real results, and created highly functional advisory teams and boards of directors. As President of The Brag Company, a combination of online and retail product distribution for smart travel products, Jeanette oversaw the complete restructuring of the business. This included growing local and international sales channels, engaging outsource partners to optimize operations, launching new product and services, and developing a comprehensive plan for the next stage of growth. Recently, she helped Canadian loyalty and reward platform, eTrove, scale their technology for mass adoption and ramp up sales throughout the US with a focused go-to-market strategy.
Over the last 4 years, Jeanette has supported more than 20 Foresight companies as an Executive In Residence in several markets including bio-energy, electric vehicles, smart buildings, water tech, robotics and wind. She is excited to bring the new vision of Foresight to life: advancing the adoption of Canadian transformative cleantech companies through programs that help them launch, scale and grow.
Katty is an entrepreneur and an Engineer who understands how to help other STEM professionals with business development, marketing, and operations. With her unique experiences with both startup companies and the engineering industry, Katty knows how to coach technical entrepreneurs share and effectively communicate their innovations with the general public. As Community Manager at Foresight, Katty seeks connections and strategic partnerships for Foresight, to further enhance the transformative clean technology sector in Western Canada. Katty thrives on making connections to create positive opportunities for Foresight, our partners and companies.
Katty is a Professional Engineer with Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (EGBC) and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science (Civil Engineering). Katty is the co-chair of Vancouver Startup Week, a volunteer position she has held since 2016. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology.
Michelle is experienced in customer service, project management and administration. Her various roles for companies ranging from small consultancies to large retail chain stores has proven her adaptability and efficiency. Juggling timelines and being exposed to a variety of projects feed Michelle’s desire to make things happen and keep it interesting. She is a licenced pyrotechnician, level 3 curling Ice technician and level 2 curling coach and has a degree in Music from Mohawk College.
Chris has been involved in the clean technology sector for over 20 years. He excels at pulling together diverse elements of opportunities to turn them into successful ventures. Chris has had successful experience developing companies from the nascent stage, through technology development, productization and cost down, market establishment, sales, as well as establishing highly effective teams.
Chris was co-founder and CEO of Cellex Power Products which was subsequently acquired by Plug Power in 2007. Chris then ran the Motive Power Division of Plug Power for 3 years. He is currently Chairman of Hydrexia, an Australian hydrogen storage company, and he recently led them through major financing.
Chris’s specialties include: company creation and development, business/opportunity analysis and synthesis, creating and/or strengthening customer value propositions, raising capital, technology development, establishment of product delivery organizations, market development and customer sales, and CEO/leadership mentoring. As well, Chris holds a masters degree in engineering and has worked extensively with cryogenics, novel materials, energy conversion systems, hydrogen, fuel cells and other clean technologies. Chris is part of the BCIC mentoring group and a director of the Working Opportunity Fund.
Beth’s wild career has spanned over two decades in start-ups in abstruse 3D graphics for Hollywood, multi-billion dollar international firms, and even a stint keeping the world safe from nuclear annihilation by helping dismantle the Soviet nuclear stockpile. Largely focused on the technology sector in roles as diverse as CEO and marketing coordinator, her interest has always been finding new ways to align the strategy, operations, and execution in an organization to make it more effective. After many years as a corporate practitioner, Beth now consults to companies of all sizes with a focus on building effective organizations, developing people, and creating effective processes to lead firms through periods of high growth or internal change.
Beth has experienced taking companies from start-up, through acquisition – in particular she was CEO of rendering software company Exluna, which was subsequently acquired by NVIDIA. This became the basis for their Digital Film Group which Beth ran for an additional 3 years.
On the clean technology front, Beth was instrumental in advising a solar lighting firm, helping them generate significant market traction in developing countries.
Rick began his career in finance, and quickly rose to the level of CFO after graduating from SFU with a BBA and obtaining his Chartered Professional Accountant (CMA) designation. His first taste of high growth was in apparel and sporting brands, going from early stage to $50M in 6 short years. Subsequently, Rick turned around two publishing enterprises, one of which he transitioned into digital marketing as the media world changed over, and ran as President for 7.5yrs, before making a successful exit.
Rick’s talents in leading growth were called upon once again, as he first consulted and then took on joint finance and operations roles in a startup food processing concern that quickly grew to $10M after 3 years. He then moved on to another processing concern where he was responsible for 5 plants, 1800 employees, representing .$5B in revenues. Since then Rick has focused his time on fast growth small to mid-size enterprises in food and advanced manufacturing, and has had the greatest satisfaction coaching and mentoring them following a coaching model based on EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System).
In addition to Rick’s work in industry, he was also a Director, Vice Chair, and then Chair of the BC Food Processors Association (over an 8 year period), BC’s largest food, beverage, and natural products manufacturing industry association. He was also a Director of Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C., an industry-led, not-for-profit organization working with industry partners and funders to invest in projects that enhance the competitiveness, profitability and sustainability of BC agriculture and agri-food.
John R. Wallace is currently serving as a Board director for SBE, a provider of low impedance capacitors and ICRTec, who is developing high efficiency gas turbine engines for class 8 trucks. Mr. Wallace retired from Xantrex Technology in 2008. He joined Xantrex as Chief Executive Officer in November 2005 after serving as interim CEO since July 2005. Wallace has been a Director of Xantrex since May 2003.
Since 2002, Wallace provided management, business and technology consulting services to a number of companies in the alternative energy and power electronics industries. From November 2004 until May 2005, Wallace was interim Chief Executive Officer of AVESTOR, a developer and manufacturer of a lithium-metal-polymer battery, based in Boucherville, Quebec and from 1982 to 2002, Wallace worked for the Ford Motor Company, where he spent more than a decade helping Ford become the world’s largest producer of alternative fuel vehicles. His final assignment with Ford was serving as Executive Director of THINK Group, where he was responsible for the development of hybrid electric, fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles. Prior to Ford, John was a leader in microprocessor development in high growth technology companies such as Texas Instruments and Intel.
Wallace has also been named as Chief Technical Advisor to the China/UNDP Fuel Cell bus program.
Wallace holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Computer Science.
After working as a forest fire fighter in the early years after graduating from University of BC with a BA in economics, Sam started a financial advising business in 2005. In early 2008 Sam sold his book to a colleague and returned to grad school in Toronto where he graduated with an MBA from the University of Toronto in 2010. Working for the next four years in investment banking and commodities trading, Sam moved out of finance in the Summer of 2014 to take over a struggling waste-to-resource startup. As the CEO of IMR, Sam brought the company to profitability one year later and in 2017 built a new facility in partnership with a global player in the recycling industry.
Seeking a challenge above all else, Sam thrives in a dynamic setting where the only sure thing is the unexpected. A broad skillset built through years in finance, managing companies and time in the outdoors allows him to operate at an elevated capacity. Using a relational management style and focusing on motivation through responsibility, Sam develops the trust and respect of clients, contacts and colleagues to effectively execute his duties.
Len Zapalowski has more than 30 years of senior management experience with some of Vancouver’s most successful companies, including Nexus Engineering, Creo Products, Pivotal Software, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies and Mazza Innovation.
His broad global business experience includes executive & general management, R&D, sales, marketing, and business development in North America, Asia, and Europe. Len graduated with a BSc and MSc from Imperial College, London.
Kirk Hamilton is an executive with international experience implementing strategies for technology adoption to capitalize on unique business opportunities in Information Technology, Telecom, and Manufacturing industries. As CEO of a number of public and private companies for over 20 years, he has led them from a loss position to profitability. During his career, the scope of his assignments ranges from the repositioning and turnaround of a global provider of smart card equipment and software solutions, NBS Technologies Inc, to major telecom start-up operations with leading edge technology for BCE and others, to turnarounds of manufacturing operations within GE Canada. Currently, through personal engagement with client businesses of Élan Tactical Management Inc., he leverages business and management experience to assist companies improve market growth, productivity and cost performance. Additionally, he coaches entrepreneurs of the BC Venture Acceleration Network as an Executive-in Residence for BC Innovation Council. Kirk is an active Angel Investor in a variety of BC based start-up businesses and as an investor member through E-Fund Vantec Entrepreneur’s Fund.
Kirk is a graduate of Electrical Engineering from McGill and received his MBA from the Rotman School of Business from University of Toronto. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and trained in Board Effectiveness for Small and Medium sized businesses.
Hamutal is a business Development expert with over 12 years experience in creating new platforms that support the organization’s global growth. Hamutal is passionate about finding the right growth vehicles and is a strong believer in multidisciplinary environments.
Over her career, she enabled growth by a multitude of vehicles and processes including investments, mergers and acquisitions, strategic cooperation agreements, devising and implementing market entry strategies, leading BI-CI teams, business model analysis, capital raising for start-up and mature companies and International public bids.
Hamutal holds an LLB and an MA in philosophy. In the 5 years, she practiced law, Hamutal lead various Public offerings (TASE, NASDAQ), closed numerous International transactions and M&A processes.
Hamutal worked with leading global water technology companies as well as startups and new ventures. Her focus is on international expansion and finding the best platform to generate growth.
With extensive experience in LATAM and Asia Hamutal offers deep knowledge of these business environments.
In her last role, Hamutal lead the Business Development activity of Essilor’s online Division, expanding its activity to LATAM and Europe through M&As and organic expansion. She currently works as a consultant for various organizations and is a mentor at the e@ UBC LLP program.
Rustam presently works for Sustainable Development Technologies Canada and has been a cleantech entrepreneur for most of his adult life. He is also an impact investor and base of the pyramid (BoP) expert with extensive research experience of over a decade in sustainable social enterprise design and renewable energy access. He has expertise in identifying, designing and analyzing strategies for the clean energy space and has worked on projects in India, Tanzania, Zambia, Myanmar, Nepal and Puerto Rico. He has authored of the book De-mystifying Impact Investing an Entrepreneurs’ Guide, which provides strategic advises and recommendations on impact investment and has served as a useful guide for several emerging entrepreneurs and investors. Rustam also holds a patent for dynamic pricing based smart energy meters used in solar pre-paid micro-grids and has over ten years of direct field experience in micro-grids and solar rooftops.
Rustam founded Boond (www.boond.net), one of India’s fast-growing solar energy access enterprise that creates distribution channels for development products like solar rooftops, solar microgrids solar lamps, solar home systems in the remote parts of India. He was one of the top entrepreneurs who accompanied the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi as a part of his Startup India delegation to the US in 2015. In addition to his role in impact investment advisory and deal structuring to start-ups, he has had wide experience in private banking and strategic consulting and has worked in organizations like Standard Chartered (in Singapore), Syngenta (in Switzerland) and Deloitte Consulting (in the US). He is the board member and investor of Emsys Electronics (P) Ltd (a company that designs and manufactures high-quality electronic products), Mynergy Solar (P) Ltd., (a company that specializes in leasing, crowd-funding and asset management for solar rooftop projects). Owing to his first-hand experience in the development sector and emerging economies, he has collaborated with international agencies like the United Nations, GIZ The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and universities like Columbia University, Aalto University of Finland, University of British Columbia, University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh.
Rustam holds an INSEAD MBA graduate with MS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He has been awarded the ‘Echoing Green Fellowship’ for work in Climate Change in 2014 and the Chevening Rolls-Royce Science and Technology Fellowship in 2017.
Mark is an entrepreneur with a track record of success in new ventures and energy markets. His experience base spans a variety of industries ranging from LNG and hydrogen to advanced imaging to gas processing technologies. He has experience developing relationships with strategic partners in Europe, North America and Asia and his corporate development experience includes execution of acquisitions and divestitures.
Over his career Mark has held senior level business development and marketing positions with large enterprises such as FortisBC, Methanex and C-I-L and with a series of startups that includes BrightSide Technologies, QuestAir, SunCentral and R-Lux Innovations.
Mark has an MBA from Queen’s University and a B. Comm from UBC and his specific strengths are in business strategy, leadership and early stage revenue generation. Market areas of particular interest include clean tech, renewable and low carbon fuels and transportation.
Jennifer has a not-so-secret passion for all things applied science that could make a significant and positive difference to people’s lives. A true left-coaster, the themes of environment, innovation and entrepreneurship have woven their way through her entire career. Scarred by early memories of driving through Silicon Valley selling software with a Sun Microsystems monitor so large it required a dolly and convertible car to transport, she has focused the remainder of her career on hardware projects.
She has helped commercialize a wide variety of Vancouver-based technologies including a novel food dehydration system for food and pharmaceuticals (Enwave Corp), natural gas engines for buses and trucks (Westport Fuel Systems), black soldier fly larvae for animal feed and people food (Enterra Feed, Heilu), point-of-use drinking water sterilization (Acuva Tech), human-machine interaction for surgeons (NZ Tech) and pill packaging IoT (CuePath).
As a business mentor, Jennifer prefers to work with full-time founders who are dedicated, organized and coachable and whose technologies will benefit the many on the planet, not the few.
John has been involved in building, managing, and investing in early stage energy and technology based ventures for 20 years.
John is passionate about Products and getting them right, the first time. He believes Products that deliver superior value to customers and strong returns to investors come about through early and rigorous use-case analysis, customer value proposition evaluation, business model optimization, and unambiguous product definition. His experience includes new product development management, market analysis, business model and strategy development, and program management. He is recognized for the capacity to take initiative, think creatively, and bring strategic context to product and technology development challenges.
He has an established product management consulting practice focused on clean technologies where he has worked with clients such as Westport Innovations and Delta-q Technologies. Start-up experience includes founding an innovative Health Coaching venture. Prior to this, he was Director of Product Management and Vice President Business Development with Cellex Power Products Inc., Product Manager at Creo Products, and Investment Manager with Ventures West Management. John holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Master of Engineering in Advanced Technology Management both from the University of British Columbia.
Mike has over 20 years of experience in energy technology and venture capital and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Mike is currently CEO of TIMIA Capital Corp., a Vancouver based Revenue Financing platform focused on Canada’s technology community. Prior to TIMIA, Mike was a Managing Partner in energy technology venture capital firms Fronterra Ventures and Chrysalix Venture Capital. Mike has made successful investments over the past decade in many clean energy companies including Liquid Light, H2scan, FatSpaniel, and Akermin.
For over five years, Mike was with Ballard Power Systems, the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of PEM Fuel Cells. He held a number of roles within the organization and was the Manager of Product Strategy and a Product Manager for the Nexa Power Module, the world’s first commercial fuel cell module, and the precursor to many of Ballard’s current products. Prior to Ballard, he spent six years with Price Waterhouse in Vancouver, gaining his Chartered Accountant status and helping small entrepreneurial businesses grow.