BioNova leads, accelerates, and advocates for Nova Scotia’s growing health and life sciences sector. Since 1993, BioNova has been accelerating the growth of its member companies. By hosting networking and educational events, and providing connections to potential funders and business resources, BioNova helps companies succeed. While these companies commercialize life-changing research to improve healthcare, provide healthier food, and develop clean energy solutions, BioNova advocates on behalf of the sector. BioNova champions the sector’s cluster of world-class research facilities, incubator programs, and companies who, together, bring investment and jobs to Nova Scotia.
BioNova’s mandate is to:
LEAD the development of Health and Life Science in Nova Scotia
ACCELERATE companies and the business ecosystem
ADVOCATE for the sector and growth of Nova Scotia’s BioEconomy
Our Sector Strengths in Nova Scotia
BioNova’s Health and Life Science community is comprised of companies in our five core areas and their affiliated stakeholders.
Please visit our Sector Strengths page to learn more.
Pharmaceuticals & Vaccines
Natural Health Products
Board of Directors
BioNova’s Board of Directors is elected from among its membership. Directors provide leadership, counsel and govern the operations of the Association.
Dr. F. Jon GeskeCHAIRPERSON
Brian LowePAST CHAIRPERSON
Kevin SullivanPAST CHAIRPERSON
Dr. Mahmoud MirmehrabiDIRECTOR
Principal – MNP’s Assurance and Business Advisory
Monita recently became a partner with MNP. Currently, Monita is a Principal with MNP’s Assurance
and Business Advisory practice. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), qualifying as a
Chartered Accountant (CA) in 2002.
With over 15 years in public practice, Monita has gained a wide variety of experience in the performance of assurance engagements. Monita’s clients range in size from some of the firm’s largest clients to some of the firm’s smallest clients and span the service line from start–up companies in research and development, technology-based start-ups, not-for-profits, charities and companies in the real-estate, construction, retail, insurance and manufacturing industries. Monita has a broad base of business advisory experience and taxation knowledge gained from working with a wide variety of clients in various industries. As a trusted advisor she helps her clients develop timely, responsive solutions to help them achieve their goals. Monita is also involved in MNP’s quality control initiatives and has been an active member of the profession by acting as a practice inspector for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Nova Scotia for the past 9 years. Monita joined the board of the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia as Treasurer in 2017.
Assistant Vice President (Industry Relations) & Executive Director, Dalhousie University Industry Liaison & Innovation
Mp>Before joining the Industry Liaison and Innovation (ILI) office in 2011, Stephen Hartlen spent eight years at Innovacorp, where he served as vice president of mentoring and, for the final year, as interim president and CEO. Prior to Innovacorp, Mr. Hartlen worked in the private sector for 14 years, where he was involved in a range of activities including sales, business development and the development of “go-to-market” strategies for various products and services.
Since taking the ILI position, Mr. Hartlen’s focus has been on ways to link Dalhousie researchers to industry, with the goal of seeing more of Dal’s research efforts reaching the market and thus boosting the university’s reputation while having a positive impact on the local economy.
Dr. F. Jon Geske
Dr. F. Jon Geske
Acting Director, Health and Life Sciences, Industry Liaison and Innovation, Dalhousie University
Jon Geske, Ph.D., is an experienced scientist and business professional in the health and life sciences industry.
Dr. Geske has over 30 years of academic and industrial scientific experience. As Acting Director of Health and Life Sciences at Dalhousie University’s Industry Liaison and Innovation department, Dr. Geske helps manage and facilitate collaborations between companies and university researchers, helps to commercialize research, and assists in the creation of spin-off ventures.
Previously, as Vice President of Innovation, he led a Canadian diagnostic company’s R&D efforts and technical partnerships with international corporations. He also guided growth and strategy as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. Prior to his work there, Dr. Geske served at a Canadian diagnostics company where he directed business development efforts with pharmaceutical partners as well as leading the company’s custom solutions unit. Previous to that, he was R&D Director at a US company where he led the development and FDA clearance of medical diagnostic kits. He was also author and principle investigator of a small business grant to develop immunoassays for the rapid detection of Ebola virus.
Dr. Geske received his doctoral degree from the University of Colorado in Experimental Pathology and his bachelor’s degree in Genetics from the University of California. His society memberships have included the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis and the International Society of Investigative Pathology, and he has authored over 20 scientific publications, with many abstracts presented at scientific conferences. He serves on the Board of Directors at BioNova, an industry association that leads, accelerates, and advocates for Nova Scotia’s growing health and life sciences sector.
Investment Manager – Innovacorp
Dr. Lidija Marusic is an investment manager at Innovacorp, a venture capital fund investing in seed and early-stage technology companies. With over 16 years of experience in life science technology commercialization, Lidija manages all aspects of the investment due diligence, approval and closing cycle, and works hands-on with Innovacorp’s portfolio companies.
Previously, Lidija worked at MDS Capital Corp. and its seed fund MedInnova Partners, focusing on commercializing biomedical discoveries.
Lidija holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Zagreb, a PhD in molecular genetics from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS) and an MBA from McMaster University. She served on the International Peer Review Panel for the Canadian Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) and on the Proof of Principle Peer Review Committee of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). Lidija is a member of the board of directors for Appili Therapeutics and DGI Clinical, and a board observer at ABK Biomedical and Densitas.
Chief Operating Officer – ABK BioMedical
Co-founder and Director, First Angel Network Association
Brian E. Lowe is co-founder and a director of the First Angel Network Association, Atlantic Canada’s largest association for private investors and is a shareholder and director of several operating companies throughout Atlantic Canada. As an accomplished entrepreneur and business leader with over 35 years experience, he has been involved in a number of start-up companies throughout his career. Mr. Lowe raised millions of dollars for these companies. He has been responsible for taking technologies to market internationally resulting in mergers and acquisitions. As a co-founder of Immunovaccine Technologies Inc., Mr. Lowe brought invaluable expertise having been responsible for the incorporation and raising the necessary start-up funding totalling $10 million. On October 5th, 2009, Immunovaccine Inc. (TSX-V: IMV) became a publicly traded company. Today Mr. Lowe is Chief Operating Officer for ABK Biomedical Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Past experience includes serving as the President/CEO/Founder of three environmental companies based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Mr. Lowe successfully negotiated the sale of these companies to Laidlaw Environmental Services Ltd. of South Carolina. He is a director and Chair of BioNova, Nova Scotia Life Sciences Association, a past director of the National Angel Capital Association and a current director of Springboard Atlantic, a network with a mandate to support the commercialization of research through universities in Atlantic Canada. Mr. Lowe is Entrepreneur in Residence at the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship under the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University.
CEO – Appili Therapeutics
Mr. Sullivan has over 15 years’ experience working with early stage biotechnology companies and has raised over $37M in private equity and non-dilutive government funding in biotechnology. Most recently he was Chief Executive Officer at DeNovaMed Inc., a biotechnology company focused on development of Gram-negative and Gram-positive antibiotics. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer at Viron Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing a novel immunotherapy and recipient of the Prix Galien Award for Biotechnology. At Viron, he and his team completed development of the Company’s lead program through Phase 2 clinical development with Series A and B financing from a syndicate of international venture capital including two pharma-venture participants. He is an active mentor and volunteer advisor for several start-up biotechnology companies. Mr. Sullivan received a BSc in Immunology from Dalhousie University, a Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology from McGill University and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business (UWO).
Dr. Mahmoud Mirmehrabi
Dr. Mahmoud Mirmehrabi
President – Solid State Pharma
Dr. Mahmoud Mirmehrabi received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Western University in London, ON. He has 19 years of industrial experience in biotech and pharmaceutical sector. He worked at companies such as Wyeth, Pfizer and Johnson Matthey in Canada and the US. Mahmoud is the founder of Solid State Pharma, which is a pharmaceutical research company. Solid State Pharma is located in downtown Halifax and currently employs 20 highly educated people. The company is planning to grow its staff to about 40 by 2022.
Executive Director, IR Scientific
Peter Hickey is a demonstrated leader in the development and execution of global information strategies and the development of new commercial technology applications. He serves on the Board of Directors at BioNova, an industry association that leads, accelerates, and advocates for Nova Scotia’s growing health and life sciences sector.