2016 Speakers

Pat Christie

CEO, Conservis

Pat Christie has over 20 years of experience in technology development and consulting. Prior to Conservis, he was EVP of WAM!NET and helped deliver over $1.6 billion of network services under contract with the US Navy. He was also president of Cybernet Systems, a highly profitable technical systems integration firm that generated over $6 million in the United States.

Oded Distel

Founder and Director, Israel NewTech

Oded Distel is the Founder and Director of Israel NewTech, Israel’s world-renowned National Energy & Water Program at the Ministry of Economy & Industry.

 

The pioneering program has spearheaded Israel’s water and energy eco-system since its founding in 2007. Israel NewTech brings all stakeholders -– start-ups, entrepreneurs, companies, multinationals, academia, regulators, policy makers and investors -- together to cooperate in order to deliver smart solutions to global challenges in the cleantech arena.

Israel NewTech is recognized as a successful case study of an innovative and effective way government can be involved in supporting the cleantech sector of a country.  The program has been studied and emulated by a number of governments and countries throughout Europe and the world. Oded plays a pivotal role leading the program, and he is recognized both in Israel and internationally as the leading expert on Israel’s water and energy industries. In 2015, Oded was selected to the list of the 100 most influential people in the Israeli high-tech arena by Geek Time. 

 

Prior to his current position, Oded was the Israeli Commercial Attaché in Greece, where he formed and implemented Israel’s foreign business policy as well as assisted Israeli companies in developing their business in the Greek market.

 

Oded holds an MBA and a BA in business administration, both from the School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University.

Todd Dollinger

Chairman and CEO, The Trendlines Group

Todd Dollinger founded Trendlines, Inc., a U.S.-based company providing sales, marketing, consulting, and product development services for the U.S. market in 1978. He served as its president until 1990 when he joined the marketing department of Israeli company SRD Medical. He became SRD Medical’s CEO, managing private equity placements and all aspects of marketing and product development. It was at SRD that Todd met Steve Rhodes.

 

Determined to work in a capacity where he might merge his business development skills with his entrepreneurial drive, Todd founded business consultancy Trendlines International with Steve Rhodes in 1993. Trendlines International was established to support seed- and early-stage companies and the start-up activities of large corporations.

 

In 2007, The Trendlines Group was awarded Israeli government-licensed business incubators, Trendlines Medical and Trendlines Agtech. Trendlines provides business and technology development, marketing communications, finance, and administrative services to its portfolio companies.

The Trendlines Group is traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX: 42T) and in the United States as an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) on the OTCQX (OTCQX: TRNLY).

Ayelet Edrey

Project Israel (RBVC/PJ-IL), Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH

Ayelet Edrey joined RVBC in 2015 and covers various investment fields with a particular focus on investment opportunities in Israel. Ayelet brings with her a financial, deal-making, operational, and technological experience.

 

Her previous position was with Bank Leumi, financing large M&A deals. Prior to that, Ayelet was a VP Strategy & M&A at m-systems/Sandisk. She was a Principal with Apax Partners in Tel Aviv, where she invested in technology companies. Prior to that she had a Product Management position in Mercury Interactive and spent six years at Intel’s R&D Center in Israel in management and development roles.

 

Ayelet holds an MBA from INSEAD and a BSc (cum laude) in computer sciences from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Anya Eldan

General Manager, Early Stage Division, Israel Innovation Authority

Anya Eldan is responsible for developing and leading programs aimed at fostering innovation in various industry segments such as early-stage fund and technological incubators.

Anya has over 25 years of executive experience in high-tech and life sciences companies, venture capital investments, and technology transfer ventures as well as a proven track record of private and public fundraising.

Sam Fiorello

COO, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; President, Bio-Research and Development Growth Park (BRDG Park)

Sam Fiorello currently serves as COO at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as well as President of the Bio-Research and Development Growth Park (BRDG Park). The Danforth Center is the world’s largest independent research institute focused on plant science. The BRDG Park helps life sciences companies bridge research, resources and relationships to achieve commercial success.

 

Sam’s work with the Danforth Center began in 1997 when he worked as Chief of Staff in Monsanto Company’s Office of the President.  While at Monsanto, he helped put together the Danforth Center’s business plan and initial pool of funding.  Prior to his work at Monsanto, Sam was a senior trade and investment policy analyst with Walker/Free Associates in Washington, DC.

 

Sam received an MA in Public Administration from the University of Texas and a BA in Business from the University of Wisconsin. 

Limor Ganot

Managing Partner, Gefen Capital

Limor Ganot is a managing partner of Gefen Capital, an investor in early-stage Israeli technology companies developing groundbreaking products. Most of the companies are at the last stages of development, and Gefen Capital invests financially and professionally to support their growth in global markets, especially the U.S. market.

 

Limor is a director of Diners Club Israel and a member of Diners Club International Global Advisory Board. Previously, she held positions at Alon Group and companies in the areas of energy, food retailing, housewares, real estate, finance, and communications. Most recently, she served as co-CEO of Alon Blue Square.

Maarten Goossens

Co-founder and Principal, Anterra Capital

Maarten is a Co-founder and Principal of Anterra Capital, a specialist food and agriculture growth capital fund backed by Rabobank, a global leader in financing the food and agricultural sectors, and Fidelity Investments, the large asset manager. 

With over eight years of experience, Maarten began his investment career with Rabo Private Equity in 2009. Prior to joining Rabo, Maarten was an analyst in the Rabobank-Rothschild M&A joint venture in London, where he focused on transactions in food and agriculture.

Maarten holds an MBA from the Free University of Amsterdam and has studied at the London School of Economics.

David Gray

Partner, Altima Partners

David Gray joined Altima Partners LLP in 2005 and has been involved exclusively since 2007 in originating, managing and exiting private equity investments in the agriculture sector, covering both emerging and developed markets. Over the past year, David has completed successful exits from three significant ag investments on as many continents and returned capital to investors.

 

Before joining Altima, David spent approximately 25 years in investment banking and corporate finance, advising and raising capital for and restructuring companies globally across a range of industrial sectors.

 

He has an MA (Hons) from Oxford University and completed the Executive Program at the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia.

Tom Green

CEO, Spearhead International Ltd

Formerly, General Manager at G's Fresh and Managing Director of Greens of Soham Ltd, Tom was appointed CEO of Spearhead International Ltd in 2002.  Spearhead is an integrated food and agriculture company, with operations in the UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania. Spearhead employs over 1,800 people and its activities include over 80,000 hectares of farming together with extensive seed operations "upstream" and added value food processing "downstream."

Tom Green is married with three children studying in university, and lives in Ely in the UK. 

Robert Grossman

Co-Chair, Greenberg Traurig’s Israel Practice

Bob is the Co-Chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Israel Practice and spends a significant part of his year in Israel. Bob is an M&A and securities attorney, with a wide range of experience taking companies public, handling private offerings, acquiring and selling companies, and as a business advisor. He has experience representing small and large companies and leading transactions ranging from under $1 million to $10 billion. His clients include many companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, digital healthcare, healthcare and agritech industries, among others. Representative clients include and have included TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., IVAX Pharmaceuticals Inc., OPKO Health, Inc., Beeologics, The Frost Group, Inc., Prolor Biotech, Inc.,Oppenheimer & Co., Inc.,  The Trendlines Group, Ramsay HMO, Inc., Scivac Ltd., Safestitch Medical Inc. (now Transenterix, Inc.), and many others.

 

In addition to representing Israeli companies, Bob and the firm's Israel Practice Group provides assistance to Israeli and U.S. companies through introductions to strategic partners. Greenberg Traurig's broad client base and network of 36 offices, including its office in Tel Aviv, and other resources are significant components of this process.

Ofer Haviv

CEO, Evogene

Ofer Haviv has served as Evogene’s president and CEO for more than 10 years. Previously, he was the Company’s COO and CFO and was involved in Evogene’s spin-off from Compugen in 2002. At Compugen (Nasdaq: CGEN), Ofer was director of finance and treasurer for four years, during which time the company completed two private placements and an IPO on Nasdaq.

 

Ofer received a B.A. in economics and accounting from Tel Aviv University and is a CPA in Israel.

Bai Hongmin

Chairwoman of China Baoding Tong Fang Smart City Park Development Company

Bai Hongmin is Chairwoman of China Baoding Tong Fang Smart City Park Development Co., Ltd. Previously, she was chairman of the board of the Baoding Minsheng Real Estate Development Company Ltd. and Hebei YiHoucheng Daily Necessities Co. Ltd., president of marketing of Baoding Dragonfly Group, and a reporter for the Baoding newspaper.

She is a graduate of the Chinese Department at Baoding Normal College.

Nitza Kardish

CEO, Trendlines Agtech

Nitza Kardish has 18 years of experience working in senior management positions at life science companies.

 

Previously, she served as VP Business Development at TechnionSeed, the technological incubator founded by the Technion R&D Foundation 2, Ltd., where she was responsible for the life sciences and cleantech fields. Nitza managed business development at Rafael Development Cooperation; served as CEO of Clal Life Sciences, a R&D center for emerging life science companies; and was CEO of UroGyn, a start-up that developed minimally invasive surgical tools.

 

Nitza earned her Ph.D. (life sciences) and M.Sc. from Tel Aviv University (both with distinction) and studied law at Tel Aviv University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Arama Kukutai

Co-Founder and Partner, Finistere Ventures 

Arama Kukutai is a co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures, a pioneer in the agriculture and food technology sectors, that was founded in 2005. He has been a company founder and entrepreneur in the agribusiness sector, with over 20 years' experience. He served as executive chairman of PKW Farms, a successful agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and aquaculture activities in New Zealand, Asia, and Australia.

 

Arama also led the New Zealand government’s Trade & Investment Agency in North America, and had a successful career in corporate banking prior to emigrating to the United States. Finistere announced the closing of its latest venture fund in 2015. Arama serves on the boards of current portfolio companies CropX and Zeakal.

 

He is an active member of the agtech community, having helped to create AgTech Week, the industry’s leading event (www.globalaginvesting.com).

Michael Lee

Managing Director, Syngenta Ventures

In 2013, Michael joined Syngenta Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Syngenta, a seeds and crop protection company. Michael looks after the full range of investment activities for Europe and Middle East and sits on the Boards of Biognosys (Switzerland), Bomill (Sweden), Brandtone (Ireland), Phytech (Israel), and the VC/PE industry association, called Invest Europe (based in Belgium). Prior to Syngenta, he was with Unilever's CVC group based in the UK and the US.

 

Michael has worked as a bench scientist in Unilever’s R&D center in the Netherlands, and as a postdoc at the University of London. He has PhD from University of Durham, an MBA from RSM Erasmus, and is a Kauffman Fellow.

Jeroen Leffelaar

Managing Director, Large Corporate Food & Agri, Rabobank

Jeroen Leffelaar is a managing director at the wholesale banking division of Rabobank, focusing on food and agri business internationally. He is a senior banker in the global animal protein client franchise, providing financing, risk management, and advisory services to a broad group of clients in farming, slaughtering, and processing of pork, beef, poultry, aquaculture, and fisheries. He is actively involved in Rabobank’s initiatives to promote, facilitate, and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in food and agtech.

 

Jeroen is co-initiator of F&A Next, the first European platform for investors, start-ups, and scale-ups in the food and agricultural domain.

 

Prior to joining Rabobank in 2006, Jeroen held positions in corporate finance and investment banking at a.o. Citigroup and Credit Suisse.

Adrian Percy

Head of Research & Development and Member of the Executive Committee, Bayer Crop Science Division

Adrian Percy joined the Executive Committee of the Bayer Crop Science Division as Head of Research & Development.

Adrian began his career in 1991 as a toxicologist with Rhone-Poulenc Agrochimie, based in France. Since then, he has held numerous positions in the R&D departments of the Crop Science Division of Bayer and its legacy companies in France, Germany, and the USA. These include leading crop protection development activities in North America and, most recently, regulatory affairs activities across the Crop Science technology platforms, including Seeds & Traits, Crop Protection and Environmental Science.


Adrian is also a member of the R&D Executive Committee of Bayer and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Bayer Science & Education Foundation.

Adrian grew up and studied in the United Kingdom. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry and MSc in toxicology at the University of Birmingham, and a BSc in pharmacology at the University of Liverpool.

Mitchell Presser

Head US M&A, Freshfields

Mitchell Presser is the head of Freshfields’ US M&A practice and focuses on global business transactions, including M&A and leveraged buyouts, for international corporations and financial institutions.

 

Mitchell gained his skills and knowledge through wide experience on both sides of transactions, as adviser and as principal. From 2006 to 2013, Mitchell was a founding partner of Paine and Partners LLC, a private equity firm managing a $1.2 billion fund focused on food and agribusiness investments. Previously, Mitchell was a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he concentrated on M&As, private equity, leveraged buyouts, corporate governance, and securities law matters.

 

Mitchell’s investment experience includes investments in wild and farmed seafood, fresh and frozen produce, and food ingredients. He has also invested in and advised early-stage businesses in the agriculture and consumer industries.

 

He received his JD from Yale Law School and a BS in accounting from New York University.

Steve Rhodes

Chairman and CEO, The Trendlines Group

Steve Rhodes began his professional career in 1979 at the Chicago branch of Bank Leumi, where he became the director of marketing. In 1985, Steve relocated to Israel with his family and was appointed deputy manager of Bank Leumi’s International Division. Steve joined Israeli medical device start-up SRD Medical in 1988 as CFO and later became VP of Sales and Marketing.

 

In 1993, Steve founded Trendlines International, an Israeli business development consultancy, with Todd Dollinger. In 2007, Trendlines became The Trendlines Group (www.trendlines.com), an innovation commercialization company that invents, discovers, invests in, and incubates innovation-based medical and agricultural technologies. Trendlines’ unique business model mitigates risks inherent to innovation-based investing. The Trendlines Group is traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX:42T).

 

Steve is the chairman and CEO of The Trendlines Group, chairman of Trendlines Agtech, and a director and chairman of the board of a number of public and private companies.

 

He received his MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Harvard. He is a CPA in the state of Illinois.

Barry Schindler

Co-Chair, Greenberg Traurig Patent Prosecution Group

Barry Schindler is Co-Chair of the firm's Patent Prosecution Group and a shareholder in our Intellectual Property & Technology Department, a Group that has approximately 4,000 domestic and 4,100 foreign applications pending and nearly 100 attorneys, who are registered with the USPTO. Barry is a shareholder in the New Jersey Intellectual Property & Technology Department. Barry has more than 25 years of legal experience in working with companies of all sizes to build and manage significant patent portfolios, develop in-house IP procedures, and formulate IP strategies. Barry specializes in food, agriculture tech, pharma, and medical device patents.

Barry is a member of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Institute of Food Technologists, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Intellectual Property Law Association. Recognized in Chambers & Partners USA Guide, 2008-2016 editions, Legal 500 US, 2008-2014 editions as outstanding lawyer and IAM Magazine, "The IAM Patent 1000," Patent Prosecution in NY and NJ, 2012-2016.

Gideon Soesman

Co-Founder & Partner, GreenSoil Investments

Gideon Soesman is co-founder and managing partner of GreenSoil Investments. With offices in Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel, GreenSoil Investments funds companies with transformative technologies that change how we use the world’s resources. Its portfolio companies enable smart and efficient use of energy, water, and land in the agriculture, food, and real estate sectors. GreenSoil was founded in 2011 by Alan Greenberg and Gideon Soesman and has ~$100 million under management. GreenSoil's Ra'anana-based agro and food technologies fund is Israel's leading fund in the sector, with close to $40 million under management and with a portfolio of six exciting companies.

Before co-founding GreenSoil, Gideon founded and managed GMS Capital, a boutique investment bank. Prior to that, he was responsible for all global M&A activities for a major division of Royal Philips Electronics. While senior director of corporate M&As, Gideon managed deals valued at over $1.5 billion. At Philips, Gideon also served as director of corporate strategy & Venturing, with overall responsibility for all deal flow management, due diligence, deal negotiations, and portfolio management in Israel.

Prior to joining Philips, Gideon held senior positions at Shaldor and Ergo, leading strategic management-consulting firms in Israel, and served as a project manager at MATI, the Center for Entrepreneurship Development.

Gideon received an MA in business administration from Boston University/Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and holds a BA in economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He immigrated to Israel from the Netherlands in 1990, is married, and has three adorable children.

Ziv Tirosh

Vice Chairman, Stockton (STK)

Ziv Tirosh is the Vice Chairman of Stockton (STK), which specializes in the development and marketing of botanical-based biopesticides. Stockton’s flagship product, Timorex Gold®, is a well-known broad spectrum biofungicide sold in over 30 countries for a wide range of crop/pest combinations. 

 

Stockton recently obtained a $90 million investment from the Chinese Sichuan Hebang Group in exchange for a 51% share of the company. Zvi and his family maintain the remaining 49%. The funds will be directed to growing Stockton’s biopesticides business. 

 

Stockton has an active R&D program for the development of future natural products for crop protection. Its unique R&D center in Israel invests substantial resources in developing "green" products. The Stockton R&D team works in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science for the development of future natural products for crop protection. 
 

Adi Vagman

Founder & Managing Partner, AgriNation VC

Adi Vagman is the founder and the managing partner of AgriNation VC, an agritech and foodtech investment fund. AgriNation VC invests in early-stage companies (after the stage of development and before sales) and supports their go-to-market phase in local and global markets. Adi is an experienced investor, consultant and executive with over 6 years of experience in the Agritech and the food industry.

Previously, Adi was former VP of business development and marketing in Coffee Joe where she played a key role in the company's turnaround to be the largest coffee chain in Israel. Adi is an active angel investor and acts as a director at Tropic Bioscience.

Adi holds an MBA and BA from IDC and graduated from the “Zell Program”, a unique entrepreneurship program for outstanding students.   

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