WHO WE ARE
Meet IAC’s team of experts and professionals, working across Canada.
Mike McLean, CEO
Focus: Leading IAC’s national presence, Mike oversees operations and the implementation of IAC’s strategic programs and services
Background: With 25 years of technical strength and global expertise in IP, Mike is a recognized leader in IP and the patent strategy market. He has worked extensively with the technology practices of major law firms, the in-house corporate counsel teams of key technology companies and external licensing agencies to develop, support and execute complex patent strategies.
Fun fact: Mike enjoys sports and coaching youth basketball and baseball.
Erin Pisko, VP, IP Strategy
Focus: Providing strategic leadership centered on innovation strategy to member companies with the objective of building intellectual property (IP) roadmaps aligned with business objectives and an IP literate workforce.
Background: Erin is a registered patent agent with decades of experience working both in-house, building out ecosystems for innovation and at top-tier Canadian law firms, assisting companies from diverse industries in building/transforming their innovation strategy. Erin holds Master and Bachelor degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Fun Fact: Erin loves winter and is passionate about cross-country skiing, hockey and sledding. She was a nationally ranked cross-country skier and competed across Canada as well as in several European World Cups. These days Erin is all about pleasure skiing and exploring the vast array of trail systems in and around Calgary.
Lissa Matyas, VP, Corporate Affairs
Focus: Lead IAC’s relationships and communications with all external parties and partnerships, including government institutions, crown corporations, IAC members and intermediaries.
Background: Lissa has over twenty years of leadership experience catalyzing science, technology and innovation partnerships between industry, academia and government to build capacity in emerging technologies. Lissa held the positions of Vice-President of Global Government Affairs at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR); President of Science&TechCollab; Vice-President of International Partnerships at Mitacs; and Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill University; among other roles in Canada, the UK and Australia.
Lissa is Co-Chair of the Science Summit at the United Nations General Assembly, a Board Director of Science Rendezvous and a member of the Investment Committee for the public venture arm of VU Venture Partners. She is designated as an Americas Competitiveness Exchange Ambassador through the Organization of American States (OAS) and the US Department of Commerce and was a Board Director of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies.
Fun fact: Lissa enjoys painting and other creative pursuits, and her undergraduate degree was in Fine Arts.
Sharon Ho, IP Lawyer & Commercial Counsel
Focus: As IP lawyer and commercial counsel, Sharon provides strategic and practical solutions and risk assessments for IAC operations and facilitates all IP and commercial transactions at IAC.
Background: In addition to being lawyer, Sharon is also a patent agent and trademark agent. Sharon has over 15 years of professional experience in all areas of IP, from front-end IP protection and strategy development to IP-related corporate transactions and litigation, in a wide range of industries, including high-tech, pharmaceutical, and energy. Prior to her legal career, Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from UBC and worked in R&D in the telecommunications sector.
Fun fact: Sharon enjoys learning about different cultures and has lived in several cities in Canada, Asia, and Europe.
Veronique Page, VP, IP Transactions & Analytics
Focus: Contributing to IACs IP services, including the IP Intelligence and the FTO (Freedom-to-Operate) product streams. This involves delivering a patent purchase and licensing program that will maximize value for our members, Canadian SMEs in the Clean-Tech space.
Background: Veronique graduated from McGill University with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. She is a Registered Canadian Patent Agent with 15 years of experience in a variety of IP-related roles: from patent agency work to patent licensing and acquisition for a non-practicing entity. She brings a unique perspective on patent portfolio development and monetization.
Fun fact: In her free time, Veronique enjoys swimming, painting and playing piano. Her art is somewhat influenced by her many travels, with a predilection for Gaudi’s architecture.
Anna Ekstrandh, Program Coordinator
Focus: Supports the IP transactions and analytics team, and legal team, with intelligence report production, and IP litigation insurance.
Background: Anna has a solid background in program and project management, specifically in the high-tech and IP professional services sector.
She started her career in integrated circuit design after earning an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Lund in Sweden.
Fun fact: Anna is a 4th Term Master of the Ohara School of Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). She has studied with Japanese professors in North America and Tokyo.
Belén Welch, Relationship Manager – Partnerships
Focus: Belén is the Partnership and Relationship Manager at Innovation Asset Collective (IAC), working with stakeholders in the IP, Cleantech and Innovation space.
Background: Belén has 15+ years of experience supporting Canadian businesses from startups to high growth/potential businesses; either already established or expanding into Canada. She has worked with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) providing flexible financing and advisory and previously with the NB provincial government reporting to the investment attraction team. Belén has also vast experience providing training, resources and mentorships as well as solidifying partnerships and agreements to provide the best backing to local businesses. Belén recently finished a certification in International Digital Business from Ecole supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP) and is passionate about tech innovations.
Fun Fact: Belén loves travelling and keeping active, her best days are when she can have a slot of time to be productive, active and learn something new all in the same day.
Colin Kibjis, Senior Program Manager
Focus: Working across program streams and with the Leadership team, Colin is responsible for providing project management support for strategic initiatives, as well as ensuring compliance and managing government relations.
Background: Before joining IAC, Colin spent more than a decade working in global development, most recently with Right To Play in a project management capacity where he was responsible for bringing people together to ensure the successful delivery of the full project lifecycle. Colin recently returned to school to study business sustainability.
Fun Fact: Two young children occupy most of his time these days, but Colin still finds time to cheer on Chelsea FC.
Dana Bowman, Events Manager
Background: Dana has over 20 years’ experience in administration and operations. She got her start in operations and logistics, which eventually landed her in event management. The focus of her career for the past 10 years has been incorporating diversity, inclusion, and equity into both the operations and events in the NFP sector.
Fun fact: Dana loves reading and doing really geeky stuff like watching sci-fi and going to conventions (pre-COVID). In a past life, she got to hang out with black bears and rattle snakes – there’s photo evidence of her holding both in her lap, just not at the same time.
Joshua Renouf, Social Media Coordinator
Focus: Increasing brand awareness and brand loyalty through various digital marketing initiatives as well as online community management across multiple social media platforms.
Background: A marketing and communications specialist, Joshua has demonstrated a proven track record of success by leveraging his academic experience to cultivate relationships between brands and their target audiences through content development, social media marketing, and strategic communications.
Fun fact: Joshua is an avid podcast listener and enjoys producing short audio pieces on various topics in his free time. He is also a huge combat sports fan that has a long-term goal of competing in an amateur boxing match one day.
Julia Culpeper, Senior Program Manager, Education & Strategy
Focus: Working with an incredible team of educators to develop and implement a comprehensive and in-depth IP Strategy curriculum for IAC Members using a variety of approaches and delivery methods.
Background: A decade of experience in arts administration and project management has led Julia through a number of industries, including theatre, hospitality, and higher education. She specializes in distilling big ideas into action, and being over-organized.
Fun fact: Julia is an avid reader, soccer player, and pianist, and loves painting, cooking (eating), and being outdoors – hiking, birding, and backcountry camping with friends and family.
Karran Sahadeo, Senior Communications Manager
Focus: Builds branded content to show IAC’s value and impact on Canada’s data-driven clean tech sector.
Background: Born in Guyana, got a tan in the Bahamas, learned about life in New Jersey, had a Nandos in the UK, and currently cycling in Toronto while simultaneously drinking tea and documenting the city.
Fun fact: Karran has spent the last decade trying to make the perfect NYC slice, and he is pretty close.
Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald, Marketing Content Specialist
Focus: Ensuring the language in IAC’s course material is easily digestible, helpful, and engaging so that IAC Members have a positive and enriching learning experience.
Background: Kassaye has a background in writing, copywriting, and B2B/B2C content marketing. She has written about a wide variety of topics from human trafficking in international adoption to environmental compliance laws to payment processing and home design. Above all, Kassaye is passionate about understanding target audiences (who they are and what makes them tick) so she can create relevant content that aligns with business objectives.
Fun fact: Kassaye co-created and co-hosted Out of The Fog (2016-2017), a podcast about family separation. Currently, she is almost finished co-editing Lions Roaring Far From Home, an anthology written by 33 Ethiopian adoptees living in seven countries (forthcoming in 2022). When she’s not reading, writing, or advocating for family preservation, Kassaye enjoys aerial arts and most of all – listening to her young son’s colorful and dramatic stories!
Kristine Van De Munt, Office Manager
Focus: Support the overall success of IAC by supporting the background administration of key internal processes and accounting practices.
Background: Over 5 years office management in the construction industry with a key focus on accounting Kristine has learned a lot about business processes and best practices. Now looking to develop a new skillset in the IP sector and contribute to the overall success of IAC.
Fun fact: Kristine is an artist with a goal to eventually have a piece displayed in a gallery or coffee shop.
Lamine Sylla, Patent Acquisition Specialist
Focus: Working as part of the Freedom-to-Operate (FTO) Team, Lamine helps in identifying potential opportunities for patent acquisitions, including performing portfolio reviews and making recommendations for acquisition.
Background: Lamine is a Canadian Patent Agent with 20+ years of experience in the IP space including patent licensing, litigation support, acquisition, drafting and prosecution. Lamine earned an M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Laval University and holds a math and physics degree from Dakar University.
Mayur Sharma, Junior Patent Analyst
Focus: Support the delivery of IAC’s IP Intelligence product stream, as well as the Patent Access stream, aimed at securing FTO (Freedom-to-Operate) for our member SMEs, including performing patent and market landscape studies, patent reviews, and prior art analysis.
Background: Mayur worked as a patent searcher with an IP service provider firm in India for about 3 years and almost a year writing technical content for other such firms on their websites. Mayur is motivated by the purpose-driven work at IAC in helping Canadian SME’s leverage their IP
Fun fact: Having made his first international trip to Canada in February 2022, Mayur is looking forward to exploring Canada and its vast cultural diversity.
Natasha Southwell, Accounting Manager
Focus – Keep financial processes running efficiently to facilitate growth. Assist with financial reporting requirements from IAC team members and external stakeholders.
Background – Over a decade assisting Canadian small businesses with their accounting and financial reporting needs, working in public accounting and startup environments.
Fun Fact – Natasha played tennis semi-professionally in her youth, alas, she ultimately became an accountant.
Melissa Bouffard, Relationship Manager
Focus: Acting as the main point of contact for all IAC members. In this role, Melissa is supporting and engaging with members, to understand their needs and the challenges they are facing.
Background: Melissa’s experience in customer service and account management will be applied to ensure members extract the full relevant benefits from IAC.
Fun fact: After entering for tickets to Saturday Night Live for many years, Melissa finally won in January 2020 and got to see a show live from New York!
Peggy Chooi, Strategic IP Specialist
Focus: As part of the Education, Strategy and Funding Team, Peggy is passionate about providing strategic support to IAC members in their IP discovery and growth journey.
Background: Peggy has more than 20 years of combined experience as a Canadian and international intellectual property lawyer, with a focus on trademark law, IT, and IP commercialization. Peggy is also a registered trademark agent with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Peggy has worked extensively with many international law firms and Fortune 500 companies, along with SMEs and technology start-ups, to help businesses develop creative strategies to manage their intellectual property rights.
Fun Fact: Peggy enjoys swimming and exploring the extensive Toronto bike paths.
Rasha Shamat, Senior Manager, Business Development
Focus: Engaging and assisting new potential members in realizing the benefit and value of becoming an integral part of IAC, ensuing membership growth and customer relevance.
Background: Rasha has over 20 years of experience in marketing and business development in IT software development, events and publishing with the most recent seven years in IP in Dubai, UAE. She is passionate about building awareness on the importance and value of IP for women entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Fun Fact: Rasha is an avid traveller who mixes her passion for travel with her love for hiking, with her last hike being Camino de Santiago. Rasha also enjoys architectural drawing and painting.
Ron Oliver, Director, IP Business Development
Focus: Working as part of the Freedom to Operate team, Ron helps with identification of key markets and technical areas to acquire patents and freedom to operate licenses.
Background: Ron has 20 years of experience in the high-tech sector,16 of which in the intellectual property space. As Director of Licensing at WiLAN Technologies, Ron negotiated patent licensing agreements; managed University research partnerships for Huawei Canada, and most recently, he managed multiple aspects of a government funded clean-tech demonstration project.
Fun Fact: ”Before I decided to fully embrace the aerodynamic advantages provided by a shaved head, I was often told that I looked like Ray Donovan…”
Spoorthy Kondaveeti, Manager, IP Transactions & Strategy
Focus: Supporting members in establishing sound IP strategies and utilizing IAC programs as they execute on their business strategies.
Background: Spoorthy has a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from New York University and over a decade of experience in IP consulting. She has worked with major semiconductor & other hi-tech clients around the globe helping them with their IP strategy.
Fun fact: Spoorthy has lived and worked in 10 different cities in North America & India before she settled in Toronto. In her free time, Spoorthy likes to bake with her two girls and she loves making fun birthday cakes. She is also a certified Yoga teacher with a strong passion for making Yoga accessible to everyone.
Stuti Prashar, Patent & IP Specialist
Focus: Helping cleantech organizations protect and maximize their intellectual property by developing and implementing strong strategies, ensuring smooth market entry while reducing IP risks.
Background: Stuti is an international lawyer with a wealth of experience spanning across biofuel, OLED, and medical robotics industries in four countries over three continents. Her proficiency spans various aspects of intellectual property, from strategic planning and harvesting to analytics, management, and risk assessment. Stuti holds an LL.B. (Honors) in Intellectual Property Law from India and a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology. She is a qualified Indian Patent and Trademark Agent and is currently preparing for the Canadian Patent Agent exam.
Fun fact: Stuti’s educational and career journey has taken her through 11 cities across North America, Europe, and Asia, covering six countries. Her goal is to explore every continent on this beautiful planet someday. When not travelling, she enjoys reading and binge-watching during snowy days.
Veronica Mesquita, Program Coordinator, Education & Strategy
Focus: Veronica has joined the IAC team to support the organization, administration and delivery of IAC’s Education and Strategy initiatives.
Background: Veronica has worked in program and project management roles in a variety of industries. She brings experience from her previous roles in government, healthcare, agriculture and academics to IAC.
Fun fact: Veronica plays in a weekly trivia league. She also loves swimming and playing volleyball.