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The 2020 Speakers


Elaine Watson



An award-winning journalist with 20 years’ experience in multimedia business-to-business journalism and events management, on both sides of the Atlantic, Elaine has covered a diverse range of topics from nutrigenomics to corporate espionage.


Elaine moved from the UK to the US in 2011, and as editor of, a leading online b2b title in the US food and beverage industry, she has helped to establish the site as a pre-eminent source of news and analysis on hot button issues from cell-cultured meat and CBD to labeling conventions in plant-based foods and beverages.

FoodNavigator-USA provides a 360-degree view of the North American food and beverage market, spanning food investment and incubation, labeling, litigation, and legislation, to consumer trends, new products and new technology, from new shopping or nutrition apps to synthetic biology, cultured meat, and personalized nutrition.


FoodNavigator-USA also runs the annual FOOD FOR KIDS summit in Chicago, a three-day conference that shines a spotlight on the companies – large and small – that are doing most to drive innovation and champion change in foods and beverages for children; and TRAILBLAZERS, a new initiative designed to celebrate early stage food & beverage companies that are bringing something genuinely new to the table.


Riana Lynn


Journey Foods

Riana is the founder of Journey Foods, a food tech company that supports cutting-edge product management and data services for food businesses.


A biologist turned serial entrepreneur, Riana has developed high-growth, nationally recognized technology, and food businesses.


Her accomplishments have been featured on MIT 35 under 35, CNBC, Forbes, USA Today, Wired, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine, Food Tank and more.  

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Meghan Gervais

Intellectual Property Manager

Protein Industries Canada

Meghan Gervais, Intellectual Property Manager, works with members to develop IP strategies for PIC funded projects and is responsible for the creation and ongoing maintenance of PIC’s IP Registry and the implementation of the Supercluster’s IP policies.


Based in Saskatoon, Meghan also serves as the Regional Program Specialist for Saskatchewan.


Meghan’s career has spanned a range of management, commercialization and engineering roles in Saskatchewan’s value-added processing sector within the Saskatchewan Research Council and POS Bio-Sciences.


Meghan is a registered Professional Engineer in Saskatchewan and sits on the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation Board of Directors.


Dr. Shannon Hood-Niefer

Vice President of Innovation & Technology

Saskatoon Food Industry Development Centre Inc. 

Dr. Shannon Hood-Niefer has worked in the food industry for over 20 years gaining experience in developing new food products, assisting entrepreneurs start food companies, and implementing innovative solutions in food companies.


As the Vice President of Innovation and Technology, her primary role is to strategize technologies to be adopted and to help food companies work with non-traditional ingredients and innovative solutions.


Dr. Shannon Hood-Niefer is passionate about agriculture and the role food plays in health, community, family, and entertainment. Outside of her profession, family and sport plays an integral part of her life.


Lyle Orwig

Chairman and Partner

Charleston | Orwig

From his youth on a family farm in east-central Illinois through his rise to state office in FFA and graduation from the University of Illinois and, ultimately, the founding of a nationally known agriculture communications agency 26 years ago, Lyle Orwig has maintained a focus on and passion for agriculture, marketing communications, reputation management and corporate social responsibility programs.


As chairman and founding partner of Charleston│Orwig, Lyle is involved with such clients as Arm & Hammer, Dairyland Seed, Illinois Soybean Association, McCormick and Zoetis, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s global initiative to eradicate malaria by 2040. 


Lyle is a passionate and respected spokesperson and ambassador to the agriculture and food industries. Lyle’s service to the agriculture industry includes serving on the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, National Association of Farm Broadcasting Foundation Board and the Farm Journal Foundation Board, providing counsel for the Farmers Feeding the World Initiative.


Lyle has been recognized by many in agriculture and communications. Past awards include: “National Communicator of the Year” from the National Agri-Marketing Association for his astute marketing of agricultural products and services; the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ Dix Harper Meritorious Service Award, the group’s highest recognition for a non-broadcaster; the ACES Award of Merit; Lyle was one of the first inductees into the ARC Public Relations Hall of Fame; and, In 2019, he was recognized by the Livestock Publications Council with their “Headliner” Award for lifetime meritorious service to the livestock industry. Additionally, in 2019, Lyle was presented with the National FFA Award for his service as chair of the FFA Foundation Board.

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Rob Hendry


Miller Thomson Avocats | Lawyers

Rob Hendry is an intellectual property lawyer, Canadian and U.S. patent agent, and Canadian trademark agent, with a focus on patent prosecution, large portfolio management, technology-related due diligence, strategic advising and technology commercialization.


With a business-focused approach arising from his years as in-house counsel with a multinational group of energy companies, Rob looks for the value he can bring to clients wherever they are and whatever they need to accomplish.


Rob has provided cost-effective and strategically focused legal services to clients over the past two decades, across numerous sectors and industries.

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Myles Hamilton

President & Managing Partner

CanMar Foods, Ltd.

CanMar Foods Ltd is the largest producer of Food Grade Flax in Canada and is the Canadian Market leader in both Dollar and Pound Share. CanMar farms over 20,000 acres including a 3,000 Organic farm. The company is fully integrated from the Field to the Spoon. CanMar exports to over 20 countries Worldwide. The vision of this company is “Enhancing Nutrition for a Healthier World”. Flax is consumed for its Omega 3’s, Fiber and Plant Based Protein.


Myles has extensive Consumer Packaged goods experience. He was Managing Partner at Spitz International Inc. from 2006 through 2009 and he successfully initiated and led a company sale to PepsiCo Foods (Frito Lay). Myles spent most of his 15-year career as the Western Canada Vice President at Frito Lay Canada. During his tenure at Frito Lay, he led the Western Region through a very high growth period seeing sales and market share quadruple. Brands such as Lays, Tostitos, Sun Chips, Smart Food, Miss Vickie’s brands were all introduced into Western Canada under Myles leadership. Mr. Hamilton has over 25 years of experience in the Consumer-Packaged Goods & the Food Processing Industry with Procter & Gamble, Frito Lay, Spitz International and now CanMar Foods Ltd.


Myles has a passion for agriculture and he maintains Agricultural Holdings in South East Saskatchewan


Mr. Hamilton serves as a Director of AVAC Ltd.(specializing in Ag & Food Venture Capital Investment), serves on the Board of  Prairie College, a Founder & Board member of the ABrio and community Health Initiative for Airdrie Alberta, and Chairs the Campus Development Committee for Center Street Church.


He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Washington State University, College of Business and Economics graduating with Honors in  1984. He completed an Executive Management Program from Harvard Business School in 2010.


John Cote


Black Fox Farm & Distillery

John, together with his wife Barbara, currently operate a unique farming operation in the Canadian prairies. 

Black Fox Farm and Distillery focuses on using their skills in agriculture to produce many of the ingredients used in the creation of high quality gin, liqueurs and whisky.

John and Barb have been recognized as the Outstanding Young Farmers of Saskatchewan and Canada and were the SABEX Entrepreneurs of the Year 2018.

John is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture as well as a graduate of the Canadian Agriculture Lifetime Leadership Program from the University of Laval and the University of Saskatchewan and was awarded a Nuffield Farming scholarship in 2018.  


Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, John would like to invite everyone to visit the distillery in Saskatoon, and hear more of their story.


Dana McCauley

Food Innovation Expert

The University of Guelph

Dana McCauley has a nose for the new and throughout her career she has combined an interest in food and insights on global food trends to bring profitable concepts that fulfill unmet consumer needs to market.


In her role as Director of New Venture Creation at the University of Guelph,  Dana’s mandate is to enable Canada's smartest agri-food researchers to transform their insights into commercial value. She is also still active as a consultant and food writer and is in her fifth year as SIAL Canada's Innovation Ambassador. 


Dana was recognized as a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in 2017, an honour celebrating female leaders who inspire others. 

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