Dr. Michelle Dickinson

Co-Founder & CTO, Nanogirl Labs Ltd

Michelle spent two decades as an engineer building nanotechnology solutions for the hi-tech industry.  Reflecting on the lack of diversity in her engineering career, in 2016 Michelle co-founded Nanogirl Labs - a socially conscious business dedicated to creating innovative and accessible ways for everyone to have a positive relationship with science and technology."

Dr. Diego Miralles

Biotech company serial CEO and Founder.

Diego Miralles M.D., the charismatic and globally renowned founder of JLABS – Johnson & Johnson Innovation Corporate Incubator, who is currently serving as an advisor of Flagship Pioneering, where he served for two years as CEO-Partner, and is an advisor to several other investment groups including Bridgewest. During his tenure, he served as CEO of multiple companies such as Vividion Therapeutics, where he oversaw and secured multiple rounds of financing and strategic partnerships. Diego has over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry and a background in academic research and clinical care, Diego brings a wealth of experience to the stage. Join us to gain insights from Diego a global biotechnology executive with a proven track record of converting science to medicine. 

Reflections from a career in the Life Sciences: physician, scientist, entrepreneur


Mark Orttung

Chairman of Provoke Solutions, Board member at Project Works

Mark's impressive career in technology includes a pivotal role as President and COO at Bill.com, a NYSE-listed fintech platform specialising in financial automation software for small and midsize businesses, boasting a market cap of $11.4 billion. Following his remarkable tenure at Bill.com, Mark assumed the role of CEO at Nexient in 2014, a company renowned for providing domestic software development consulting, generating over $130 million in revenue. With a robust technical background from Stanford University, Mark is a visionary leader who holds 43 patents, with more innovations on the horizon. Join us to gain insights from Mark Orttung, a true trailblazer in the tech and business landscape.

Mark William Womack

Mark W. Womack is BioCina’s Chief Executive Officer, and in his first 9 months at the helm he led BioCina to a 500% YOY increase in sales and a 250% YOY increase in revenue. Mark is an organization builder with a track record of delivering unprecedented growth and profit in every role. Prior to BioCina, Mark was CEO of KBI Biopharma and Selexis SA, and previous to that, he was CEO and Managing Director of Stelis Biopharma, leading both to significant YOY growth. Preceding Stelis, as the CBO for AGC Biologics, one of the world’s leading global biopharma CDMO’s, he led them to nearly a 300% increase in new sales in just two years.

Prior to joining AGC Biologics, Mark served over 20 years as an international management consulting industry leader, guiding many of the world’s renowned companies to achieve record highs in revenue and profit. This included a $20B post-merger integration within General Motors. Mark began his professional journey by leading a succession of U.S. Navy units to unprecedented results, including while serving as a combat center leader on a destroyer class ship, and he received numerous of the Navy’s highest honors and awards. Mark has been quoted as a key source in The New York Times, Fast Company and numerous other major global media outlets.

Dr. Joseph Monforte (Joe)

Co-Founder of Project Doris, Wild Type Advisors, Medical Advisor Asylia Diagnostics

Joe spent over 25 years serving as a business & science executive in multiple startups, including 15 as CSO, where he learned in-depth the diagnostics and pharma industry.  After the successful exit of Althea Technologies, he became a Founding Partner at Wild Type Advisors and has supported dozens of Precision Medicine programs for pharma and diagnostic clients, educating and advising on all stages of development and launch.  He has successfully driven innovation in RX/DX co-commercialization strategies leading to improved diagnostics uptake in oncology & rare disease program.  As an entrepreneur, his experience in building multiple businesses is extensive. 

Gabrielle Munzer

My goal is to help deep tech entrepreneurs and their teams access the knowledge, networks and capital they need to build globally significant companies.

I am part of the extraordinary team at Main Sequence Ventures, a deep tech venture capital firm managing the CSIRO'S Innovation Fund.

Shona Grundy

Shona is an accomplished Technology Leader with experience in well-known New Zealand startups like Soul Machines and Movio. Passionate about technology, she focuses on empowering Founders and CEOs to build thriving businesses. With expertise in Commercial strategy, Product development, Operations, and more, she aids startups in capital raising, achieving product-market fit, and global expansion. 

Shona has worked across various sectors including music, film, television, gaming, AgTech, Construction-Tech, and Bio-Tech. Shona's accolades include the "NZ Hi-Tech Award - Best Startup 2013" and the "NZ Innovation Award - Creative, Music and Media 2013". She's also recognized as the New Zealand Women’s Entrepreneur Award Winner in 2014 and named among the "Top 50 Women in Global Cinema" by Celluloid Junkie (USA) in 2020. Shona is also a celebrated Children’s book author, with her series published in four countries and five languages with over 100,00 copies sold. 

Tracey Cotter-Martin

Tracey Cotter-Martin is Datacom's Associate Director - Futures and Insights. In this role Tracey has built Datacom’s Future of Work strategy, which underpins a new delivery model for customers that views technology and its applications from a human-centric standpoint. Viewing technology through that lens helps inform better technology decisions that support people, contribute to greater digital equity and drive more positive social impacts.

Tracey and her team have identified how to apply this knowledge to build empathetic working environments that are flexible and responsive to the way people work, and they practice what they preach ... and have used their Future of Work approach to inform the design and technology choices in Datacom’s new Wellington office spaces. Tracey and her team work with organisations across the public and private sector and in 2022 she was recognised with the Innovation Award at the Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA), acknowledging her project work and its ability to deliver tangible business results.

Mark Piper

Mark is the Chief Executive Officer for The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.

Mark joined Plant and Food Research in May 2023 after 30 years in the Dairy Industry where he held roles across manufacturing, IT, and Supply Chain before moving to Tokyo for 3 years to manage technical engagement with customers and then a further 5 years in Chicago where Mark was Regional Director for North America overseeing around $1.8b of activity across multiple countries and customers.

Mark returned to NZ in 2016 and in 2017 moved to Palmerston North to lead Fonterra’s innovation, strategy and category marketing.

Mark is also Chair of Food HQ, acting Chair of the Riddet Institute, Chair of Netball Manawatu and a member of the senior advisory group for MPI led “Accelerating Protein Diversification”.

Mark has six children born in various global locations and loves the Manawatu as a place to raise a family and drive innovation in food.

Prof. Graham Le Gros

Professor Graham Le Gros is the Director (Chief Executive) of the Malaghan Institute. He was appointed to the role in 1994, following a three-year Fogarty Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, Washington DC, and a five-year scientist position with Ciba-Geigy in Basel, Switzerland.

Prof Le Gros heads the Le Gros Laboratory investigating the role of parasitic worms in modulating and influencing their hosts' immune system and whether this can be applied to preventing allergic and inflammatory disease.

In 2005 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in recognition of his research contributions to the fields of immunology and asthma. In 2010 he was awarded the Wellington Medical Research Foundation Gold Medal and in 2011 he won the Science and Technology category of the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards for his contribution to medical research in Wellington and New Zealand

Dr. Laurence Cooper

Trained as a physician scientist, I have had leadership positions in academia and industry with over 20 years of governance and experience in innovating and leading teams to help solve complex and noteworthy problems in cancer, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and infectious disease. A board-certified physician skilled in taking direct care of and leading colleagues to manage the complex medical needs of medically fragile patients. CEO for a public company that established an international footprint, fundraising in capital markets, built executive teams, boards, laboratories and manufacturing facilities, and undertook multi-center cutting-edge trials focusing on targeting solid tumors.

Lead Director on several boards, including Bio4t2 with its emphasis on clinical translation of novel CAR-T targeting solid tumors. Directed a large and well-funded academic laboratory for a decade developing and implementing numerous cellular therapies translating new ideas and technologies from bench to bedside and back. Helped start and fund multiple companies inside an outside of biotechnology. Multiple academic appointments including Pediatrics, Oncology, and Immunology, Chief Bone Marrow Transplantation, and most recently a tenured professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Author of numerous papers, books, patents, and presenter at international conferences.

Carl June

Carl June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He is currently Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine, and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 1979. He had graduate training in Immunology and malaria with Dr. Paul-Henri Lambert at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland from 1978-79, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology with E. Donnell Thomas and John Hansen at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle from 1983 - 1986. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. 

He maintains a research laboratory that studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation that relate to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infection. In 2011, his research team published findings detailing a new therapy in which patients with refractory and relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia were treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The treatment has also now also been used with promising results to treat children with refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

He has published more than 350 manuscripts and is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine in 2012 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, the William B Coley award, the Richard V Smalley Memorial Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, the Philadelphia Award in 2012, the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science in 2014 (shared w S. Grupp, B. Levine, D. Porter), the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (shared w J. Allison), the Novartis Prize in Immunology (shared w Z. Eshaar and S. Rosenberg), the Karl Landsteiner Memorial award, the Debrecen Award and a lifetime achievement award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Nicole Howard

Global Medical Information Leader

Dr. Howard’s career has been dedicated to drug therapies for patients with unmet medical needs. Working across clinical and industry settings with core expertise in Medical Affairs and Medical Information, she brings a deep understanding of the global Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical environment, patient care, and challenges that may be faced along the path of launching a new therapeutic, including the importance of building understanding of the use of a novel agent and considerations for the rare disease space. Dr. Howard is interested in supporting the innovations emerging from New Zealand that can impact patients internationally.

Stefan Korn

Stefan Korn has been at the helm of Callaghan Innovation since September 2022. Prior to this he was Chief Product Officer, and a Callaghan Innovation Board Director for three years. Before coming to Callaghan Innovation Stefan was CEO at Creative HQ, where he helped orchestrate the launch of accelerators that have nurtured startups, and corporate ventures. 

He has also launched and developed numerous successful business ventures, many of which operate today in Australia, the US and Europe. His academic background includes a PhD in Neural Networks/Artificial Intelligence and an MBA in International Business.

He is an author and has written books on early-stage venture development and parenting for dads. He was named a 2010 New Zealander of the Year by North & South magazine for innovation in parenting education.

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