Kent Payne is distinguished as a business operator and leader in the areas of sales, commercial manufacturing, and product development. He has extensive executive experience in M&A as well as successfully running start up, growth and turn around businesses. Ken has demonstrated leadership in both Fortune 500 and Private Equity environments and led Angel investment in PDS Biotechnology (PDSB:NASDAQ). He combines strong business leadership, successful P&L track record, and technical background to strategically lead and grow enterprise value across Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical market segments. He has successfully led the geographic expansion of businesses into Europe, Asia, and South America in addition to the United States. Kent currently serves as CEO for BioDuro-Sundia, an Advent International company, as well as a board member for Goodwin Biotechnologies, a Signet Healthcare company.
Kent earned his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at Brigham Young University
Mark W. Womack is CEO of BioCina. He is long recognized for delivering unprecedented growth and revenue. As CEO for BioCina, he is the driving force behind the company's vision and commercial strategy. Mark is a catalyst for growth, championing a customer-centric business model founded on quality and right-the-first-time delivery on commitments.
Mark has 30 years of experience spanning executive leadership, management consulting and CDMO commercial operations. As CEO of KBI Biopharma and Selexis SA, he achieved a 30% year on year revenue increase in just six months, and he implemented a new commercial strategy that significantly increased deal size and profitability. As CEO and Managing Director of Stelis Biopharma, Mark spearheaded the development and implementation of the infrastructure for a pure-play CDMO. In addition, he oversaw the company’s efforts to build and qualify a state-of-the-art vaccine facility capable of clinical and commercial-scale manufacturing in record time. At AGC Biologics, Mark served as the Chief Business Officer. His extensive experience driving organizational performance improvements garnered nearly a 300% sales increase in just two years. Mark began his career with more than ten years of distinguished service in the U.S. Navy, where he was recognized with many of their highest honors for exceptional leadership.
Mark received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Science in Organization Development from Chapman University and completed Harvard Business School’s Executive Program in Leading Professional Service Firms.
Brett Alderson is President of NovaCina and COO of Bridgewest Perth Pharma. He is a seasoned veteran in the pharmaceutical industry predominantly working with the manufacturing of sterile injectables. Brett is a determined and thoughtful leader adept at driving business success and leading through change. He is a champion for customers, instilling a customer-centric culture with transparency and helpfulness. He enjoys mentoring and nurturing a diverse workforce with a clear imperative of open and honest communication. Brett has a reputation as an energetic problem solver, acting with integrity and care, and always, encourages solutions for a brighter tomorrow by empowering people.
Brett's career includes more than 25 years at Pfizer (Perth) Pty Ltd., including 5 years as Site Lead. He oversaw a 500-member team and the production of more than 300 Oncology products plus several additional sterile injectable medicines for local and global markets.
Brett has a bachelor’s degree in applied science in chemistry.
Jonathan Kafer is President of LumaCina and Chief Commercial Officer for Bridgewest Perth Pharma. Jonathan has 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His expertise includes all facets of the pharmaceutical supply chain, and spans all sectors, including Generic Rx, Brand, and Specialty markets. He built his career from the ground up starting as a pharmaceutical sales representative to ultimately serving several Senior Executive Leadership roles at global pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis, Teva, Allergan (Abbvie), and Akorn. During his career, Jonathan has launched over 100 products, working closely with all critical market forces to assure successful market penetration.
Marc Rivers serves as President and CFO for Bridgewest Perth Pharma Pty Ltd, in addition to his roles as CFO for business units NovaCina and LumaCina. Marc is an experienced global finance executive with strong strategic leadership capability. He is Chairman of the Audit and Finance committee of Health New Zealand (Te Whatu Ora).
Marc joined Bridgewest Group as an Advisor in early 2023. Previously, Marc was CFO of Fonterra, New Zealand’s dairy cooperative. He joined Fonterra after serving 22 years in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as the CFO at Roche Pharmaceuticals Division in Switzerland. Marc worked at Roche and Eli Lilly in both emerging and established markets, including China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and the US. Marc has a strong track record and is known for his commitment to leading and developing his people while building diverse and inclusive teams. Mark has a BA and MBA from the University of South Carolina in the USA. and has dual Swiss-US citizenship.
Dr. Jay Short is Co-founder of BioAtla and Co-inventor of the BioAtla's patented Conditionally Active Biologics (CAB) platform. He also cofounded Diversa Corporation (now BASF), a pioneering developer of enzymes, antibodies and biologically active compounds, and served in multiple roles including CEO, President and CTO from 1994 to 2005. He led Diversa's public offering, raising over $200 million, which was the largest biotechnology IPO at that time. Prior to Diversa, Jay served as President of Stratacyte, an antibody engineering company and subsidiary of Stratagene (now Agilent), which together with Scripps Clinic was the first to clone and screen human antibody libraries in E. coli. Jay received his B.A in Chemistry with Honors from Taylor University. At Case Western Reserve University he received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry with additional studies in Macromolecular Science. He is the author of more than 100 publications and is the inventor of over 500 issued patents.
Andrew Sims is the CEO and a Co-founder of SuiteFiles. In 2012, Andrew and his co-founder wanted to help small and medium businesses, that didn't have the resources of skilled IT departments, to leverage enterprise workflow systems simply and affordably. As cloud services were just burgeoning, they formed SuiteFiles, an early SaaS document management platform. Since then, Andrew has grown SuiteFiles, adding employees, new services and new customers.
Andrew combines enthusiasm with a strategic outlook to grow the company. He leverages his cloud consulting skills to ensure he and his team are meeting customer needs, and delivering quality and value.
Andrew started his career in the forestry industry before transitioning into senior management roles within global IT companies. He brings a professional and pragmatic approach to his business, stemming from the variety of industries in which he has worked. Andrew has a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Canterbury and his MBA is from Massey University.
Matt Hayter is Co-founder and CEO of the cloud-based SaaS platform, Projectworks. Matt's primary role is a mix of the day-to-day management of Projectworks, and driving the company's strategy and aggressive growth plans. In 2020 Matt helped grow the company's annual recurring revenue by 10x and break into multiple new markets.
On any given day you'll find Matt joining sales calls, working with customers, writing marketing copy, designing new product features, and when he's lucky, on the tools cutting code. His primary skills involve bridging the gap between business and technology, holding a degree in business but working for many years as a developer, and a solution architect. Matt's leadership approach is simple; hire great people who share the same vision, and then get out of their way.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with Information Systems and eCommerce from Victoria University of Wellington.
Mark Orttung is Chairman of Provoke Solutions and serves on the board of ProjectWorks. Mark enjoys working with the talented leadership team at Provoke as they break new ground working with clients on disruptive technologies like AI/ML and blockchain. Mark is also the President of Launch by NTT DATA. Prior to Launch, Mark joined Nexient as CEO in 2014 and worked with the team to develop and hone Nexient’s product-centric approach, hoping to rid the world of crappy software. Nexient was acquired by NTT DATA in 2021. During his time at Nexient, Mark and his team struggled to find a professional services automation SaaS tool to run the business; when he saw what the team at ProjectWorks had built, he immediately wanted to get involved. Prior to Nexient, Mark held product and company leadership roles at venture-backed product companies Genesys, GetThere, Rearden Commerce, and Bill.com, resulting in three IPOs, two acquisitions, and a garage sale. Mark helped create Andersen Consulting’s Palo Alto technology center and co-led the creation of a startup SaaS company within Andersen. Mark is an inventor on 43 US patents.
Andy Lin is President and Chief Executive Officer at Provoke Solutions. Andy provides strategic direction and oversees all aspects of Provoke's business. Through his focus on driving compelling go-to-market offerings and developing leadership capabilities with his team, Andy instills client-centricity and accountability. With a strong technical background, Andy deeply understands what clients desire: delightful experiences that are at the intersection of technology, business strategy, and creative design. Andy's ability to balance tactics and strategy has led to his track record of driving hyper-growth for technology and management consulting businesses, breaking through revenue plateaus to reach new inflection points.
Andy joined Provoke in 2021. Prior to Provoke, Andy was Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at another services firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he helped the CEO develop and pivot to a new go-to-market. This resulted in a 38% CAGR between 2017 and 2020. He brings an abundance of expertise and experience through his nearly 30 years of serving in nearly every consulting position in the industry, starting his career as a software engineer with progressively increasing levels of responsibility and span of control. Andy received his BA in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Laurence Cooper is Executive Chairman for BIO4T2. As a c-level executive, scientist, physician, entrepreneur, and educator, Laurence has been innovating and leading teams to solve complex and noteworthy problems in cancer, gene therapy and immunotherapy.
His passion for discovering new knowledge and creating life-saving therapies is at the heart of his endeavors. With deep expertise, a pioneering spirit and a caring demeaner, Laurence has had a tremendous impact on others, from research lab to corporate boardroom, to patient bedside.
Currently, Laurence is on the board of Directors for Secure Transfusion Services and CellChorus. Laurence has an MD in Medicine and a PhD in Immunology from Case Western Reserve University.
Omid Tahernia is CEO of Endura Technologies. He has over 30 years of experience in leading global high technology organizations and businesses providing systems and semiconductor solutions - both in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to Endura, Omid was CEO and Director of Ikanos Communications (NASDAQ: IKAN) which was acquired by Qualcomm in 2015.
Previously, Omid served as President and CEO of Tilera Corporation, as well as Vice President and General Manager of a newly created DSP Division of Xilinx. Prior, Omid spent 21 years at Motorola in both the equipment and semiconductor segments. He held a variety of positions at Motorola including running a nearly $1 billion wireless chipset business in the company's semiconductor unit, as Vice President and General Manager of the Wireless and Mobile Systems Division. Omid holds thirteen U.S. patents, a B.S.E.E. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, and an M.S.E.E. from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dr. Andi Grant is CEO of BioOra. Andi leads global companies in the development and commercialization of novel medical therapies. She brings a valued skillset, coupling scientific and business acumen with her passion for innovating therapies for the betterment of patients. Her operational and strategic business expertise has been forged through leadership roles at Incyte and Galapagos, as well as CEO and Managing Director of Living Cell Technologies. Andi's solid track record for enabling patient access to highly innovative medical therapies includes demonstrating cost effectiveness and securing reimbursement of High Tech therapies by public payors.
At the heart of Andi's leadership success, is team inspiration. She empowers her team to go beyond the usual. Andi says "Biotech and pharma companies are knowledge businesses and knowledge sits within the heads of everyone around. Look after your people and your people will look after your business."
Andi received a PhD in molecular neurobiology from the University of Cambridge, UK.
Saba Samiei is Founder and CEO of MACSO Technologies, an Artificial Intelligence company that makes sensory data, from the edge to the cloud, insightful. She has diverse experience from hands-on coding to leading multi-million dollar transformation projects across several industry segments, including banking, telco and technology. Before founding MACSO, she worked at Microsoft, leveraging her combined business and technical skills to help 30+ Microsoft partners in New Zealand achieve or exceed year on year growth targets and enhance brand recognition.
Saba has invested more than half of her professional life in researching and understanding AI from both an ethical and a technical perspective. She completed her master's degree from Auckland University of Technology with a thesis on The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. Motivated by her findings, Saba founded Comfort.AI in 2020, an educational platform dedicated to making AI a comfort zone for everyone. In early 2021, she founded MACSO Technologies with the vision to become a pioneering company in ethical and accessible AI.
As a champion for diversity, Saba takes an active role in society to create a more diverse workforce in technology. Her leadership and passion for the community have been recognized via multiple national awards in New Zealand. From mentoring, taking part in conferences, and creating videos that show diversity in action, she doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to creating a diverse workforce. Saba’s motto in life is “I’ll find a way or make one!
Nataša Zec is CEO at Pontis Technology. Nataša brings energy, creativity and a broad operations background anchored with a law degree, to the innovative software company Pontis Technology. She leverages these skills to spearhead the company's growth and customer centric strategies. With oversight of the company's operations, she maintains stringent quality standards. Nataša's enthusiasm for empowering people and colleagues alike augment her business acumen.
Previously, Nataša was Director of General and Operational Affairs at Serengeti Ltd., where she launched a number of impactful initiatives, including the expansion and formation of Serengeti B.V. in the Netherlands.
Dr. Marina Rajič is Founder and CEO of BioViros Ltd., a biotechnology company focused on lentiviral vector manufacturing for cell therapies. Marina’s mission is to play a significant part in bettering the lives of millions around the world by providing viral vectors for clinical trials for life changing cell therapies. She sees New Zealand well suited for producing a high-value product and attracting worldwide talent within biotech.
Marina enjoys connecting with both clients and investors. At Leukocare AG in Munich, she worked as a Senior Business Development Manager. She enjoyed the fast pace and highly dynamic environment where she helped international clients find solutions for their formulation development for their biologic drug products.
Through Massey Ventures and Return On Science, she was involved in science commercialization. Marina thrived in bridging communications and resources between investors and research leaders. Taking innovation out of the labs into the real world is her favorite challenge.
Marina received her PhD in Biochemistry at Massy University where she worked on filamentous phage vaccine development and nanorod-based diagnostic assays. She completed her MSc and BSc (Hons) degrees in Pharmaceutical Engineering at University of Novi Sad.
Dr. Jasna Rakonjac is the President, CSO and Founder of Nanophage Technologies, and the co-inventor of the Biological Nanorod production system. She has assembled a “dream team” composed of five extraordinarily-talented emerging and mid-career scientists who are rapidly converting the bionanorod technology platform into diagnostic applications. Jasna is an Associate Professor in Microbiology and the Head of Microbial Biotechnology laboratory at Massey University in New Zealand. She has mentored over 25 PhD students and postdocs of which most are now active academics and scientists. She is an author of over 70 publications on filamentous bacteriophage, phage display focused on bacterial and archaeal secretome at genomic and metagenomic scale, bacterial physiology, antibacterials, antibiotic resistance and immunology. She is a co-inventor of novel antibacterial combinations, phage display tools and bacterial bioactive proteins.
Prior to joining Massey University, Jasna was a post-doc at the Rockefeller University in New York, and a Scientist at Plant and Food Crown Research Institute in New Zealand. Jasna holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Rockefeller University, MSc and BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from University of Belgrade.
Dr. Sean Feast is Founder and CEO for Precision Chromatography Limited. The biotech company specializes in 3D printed chromatography columns that will help revolutionize the biological separations industry.
Previously, Sean was an Assistant Lecturer and Teaching Assistant at University of Canterbury, and a manufacturing technician for Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Sean has a PhD in Biotechnology and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Process Engineering from University of Canterbury.
Owen Darby is CEO and Founder of Phytrac. Owen is recognized for developing and advancing innovative technology solutions to resolve the growing environmental damaged sustained from industrialization. As a technical consultant for over 15 years, specializing in the roll-out of prototype technology prior to commercialization, he achieved several complex world-first technologies. Throughout his career, Owen has always held close his personal desire to create positive change through inventive solutions. Previously, Owen was a Director and Technical Consultant at Specialists Consultants Limited, and field specialist for Schlumberger.
Dr. Nandoun Abeysekera is CEO and Founder of Avasa. Nandoun has always dreamed of working at the intersection of engineering, design and medicine, to invent emergent technologies that safeguard human life and advance the human spirit. Guided by this instinct, he is a Biomedical Engineer turned Clinician and Entrepreneur. He founded Avasa to provide a creative platform to develop novel ideas that address current unmet medical technology needs. The first being the Avasa coupler, a revascularization device to simplify microsurgery and help plastic surgeons restore form and function for patients who are left disfigured from disease and deformity. He maintains the philosophy that the process matters, and every effort should be made to develop technology ethically and sustainably. Nandoun places great importance on establishing a continuity of awareness to these guiding principles, recognizing that living an examined life is integral to this process to maintain balance.
Nandoun is a Registrar with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, and has a Bachelor of Medicine, a Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB), and a Bachelor of Engineering with 1st Class Honors in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Auckland.
Dr. Carissa Fonseca is CEO of TheiaNova Ltd. Carissa's depth of experience spans the multi-faceted aspects of developing medical products from R&D to clinical trials, and includes knowledge of the clinical practice landscape, medical education, and regulatory requirements. Coupled with keen insights into the marketing constraints and opportunities, Carissa is well-placed to lead TheiaNova.
After obtaining a PhD in the field of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, Carissa undertook postdoctoral research in medical imaging at UCLA. She embarked on a career in Medical Affairs at GE Healthcare (Pharmaceutical Diagnostics) in the USA. Following, she returned to New Zealand for a Clinical Research and Medical Affairs role at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (Anaesthesia). Most recently, she launched Connex Medtech Ltd, a consultancy helping med-tech start-ups develop and execute their Medical Affairs strategy.
Melanie is the Chief Executive Officer of the FinTech company Soteria NZ. Her passion for leveraging innovative financial solutions to create deep and long-lasting relationships underscores her vision for Soteria. Avid in her journey towards continuous learning, Melanie enjoys leading teams to develop new solutions, especially in high performance environments. She is recognized for her adept problem-solving skills, business acumen, and financial and legal expertise. Melanie is also on the board of Spiderworks Limited (ProjectWorks), a Bridgewest Group portfolio company.
Previously, Melanie was CEO of Bridgewest Finance New Zealand, funding loans in the property sector as well as an active director on four technology/Saas businesses majority owned by Bridgewest Group. She has extensive bank-side leveraged and institutional restructuring experience through her previous roles working across UK/Europe and Asia Pacific. Melanie is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. Melanie was also admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.
Julie Jones is the Founder and CEO of BioValeo Ltd, a contract research organization (CRO) focused on personalized medicines and immunology-based clinical trial services. Julie is passionate about the clinical research sector and the provision of safe and effective new treatments for patients.
Julie has been in the clinical research sector for over 20 years and has gained broad and diverse experience across the industry. Julie's most notable accomplishments include establishing a GMP facility for personalized oncology therapies, international clinical trial project management and trial portfolio management for pharmaceutical multinationals. In addition, she has created and implemented quality management systems, and led national governance and strategic development activities. She is recognized for industry consultation and development of numerous national templates and guidelines, and Ministerial ethics appointment.