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2020 Speakers

Session #1 - Life Science Ventures Addressing COVID-19

Larry Miller

Managing Director of Life Sciences - Innovation Works

As the Managing Director of Life Sciences, Larry Miller works with the management teams of early-stage life sciences and medical device companies and other start-ups. Larry helps entrepreneurs address their critical business issues including product and business development, fundraising, sales and marketing, and strategic planning. Some of these high potential enterprises receive grant or investment funds and become members of the Innovation Works investment portfolio. For portfolio companies, Larry provides mentoring and network access, and may serve as an observer on the board of directors.

Larry has more than 20 years experience in leading and managing medical device companies to identify commercializeable IP and accelerate product development, raise venture capital, manage cash flow, identify market opportunities and generate sales, sustain profits, and implement productivity and quality improvement practices. His background includes 16 years of P&L and balance sheet management of divisions as large as $600M in sales to as small as a skunk works product development team designing novel permanent magnet based MRI systems.

Prior to joining Innovation Works, Larry was President and CEO of Biomec, a privately held technology accelerator and investment company which raised over $20M in SBIR grants and provided contract engineering and manufacturing as well as business development consulting for radiology product manufacturers and distributors. Previously, Larry was President of the Healthcare Products group at Picker International and Philips Medical systems, a $600M distributor of radiology supplies. He also managed the Asia/Pacific region for sales and service of the diagnostic imaging product portfolio, and was president of the Picker Financial Group, a JV, captive leasing company. Other experience included leading the marketing and sales of CT and MRI products for Picker and General Electric Medical systems. Larry is a member of the Coulter Oversight Committee. He is an active volunteer in the Reading is fundamentals program and in Entrepreneuring Youth. Larry serves a s a judge for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and for the Pennsylvania Regional Engineering and Science Fair, both organizations support STEM programs.

Larry has earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School.

Pete DeComo

Chairman & CEO - ALung Technologies, Inc

Pete DeComo, a Pittsburgh region native, has served as Chairman and CEO of ALung Technologies, Inc. since 2010. ALung is the developer of a revolutionary artificial lung for patients suffering from Acute Respiratory Failure. He has raised in excess of $100M in order to complete the development of ALung's technology, which is now approved in 35 countries outside the U.S., where it has saved countless lives (https://youtu.be/KV_-V_X0Jzs). Prior to ALung he was founder, Chairman and CEO Renal Solutions, Inc. (RSI). RSI developed a revolutionary dialysis technology system for patients suffering from kidney failure. Mr. DeComo was the key driver in raising $40M of equity financing, completing the development process of the Company's main product, obtaining regulatory approvals and initiating commercialization in domestic and international markets. On November 26, 2007 RSI was acquired by Fresenius Medical Care Holdings. Total consideration paid was $200 MM, which was significant considering that RSI was pre-revenue. Before founding RSI, he was the Chief Operating Officer of HemoTherapies Inc., a start-up company in San Diego, commercializing the only FDA-cleared Liver Dialysis System. He was previously Senior Vice President of the Specialty Pharmacy Division for Olsten Health Services, now Accredo, a $600 million specialty pharmacy provider. Prior to joining Olsten, Mr. DeComo held numerous senior level positions in the health care industry, launching and commercializing specialized products and services to patients in the home setting After serving in the military, including a tour in Vietnam, Mr. DeComo began his professional career a Registered Respiratory Therapist serving as the Clinical Instructor at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Presby, and for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Critical Care Medicine Division. Following his experience at UPMC Presby, Mr. DeComo served as the Director of Cardio-Respiratory Services at UPMC Shadyside Hospital. Spanning his career as an entrepreneur, Mr. DeComo has directly raised, or assisted in raising over $200 million in equity capital.

Teresa Whalen

CEO - CytoAgents, Inc.

Teresa Whalen has had a 20+ year career in Life Sciences. As a biotech innovator, healthcare technology leader, life sciences investor, and clinical pharmacist; she has a successful track record of bringing life-changing healthcare products to market. As the CEO of CytoAgents, she leads a team of world-renowned clinical drug development experts and scientific advisory board members who are at the forefront of groundbreaking solutions to combat persistent and potentially deadly strains of Influenza, COVID19, and other viruses. CytoAgents is building a platform to revolutionize treatment for respiratory illnesses and viral epidemics.

In addition, Teresa serves as a Board Member at St. Clair Hospital, a highly regarded healthcare institution with leading quality metrics in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. As a member of the Quality and Safety Committee, I collaborate with the Executive Management other healthcare leaders to optimize care delivery, quality, and patient safety. I also serve as a member of the Community Outreach Committee and Medical Staff Development, focusing on the needs of the community and medical staff.

As an investor, Teresa is a Co-Chair of the investment committee of the Next Act Fund, focused on women led companies, and plays a leading role in sourcing, funding, and guiding firms from startup to exit.

Teresa's background also includes several years of experience as a Senior Executive and Clinical Pharmacist with leading organizations including Siemens Medical, McKesson and UPMC.

Session #2 - Marijuana, CBD, and Hemp - Highs and Lows, Fits and Starts

Jason Wrona

Shareholder - Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, P.C.

Jason is the co-founder and co-chair of the firm's Cannabis Industry team, where he brings his real estate and transactional experience to advising clients. His current involvement with cannabusinesses involves leading the application efforts for the medical marijuana licenses in Pennsylvania and providing general business counselling to cannabis clients and counselling to non-cannabis clients. He assists a wide range of commercial and institutional clients with respect to property and building sales and acquisitions; industrial, office and residential developments; zoning and planning issues; leases; property tax issues; and loan transactions.

William Garvin

Shareholder - Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, P.C.

Will is co-founder and co-chair of the firm's Cannabis Industry team. He assists clients in all areas of compliance with current and future state and local laws specific to cannabis, while understanding their interplay with the federal laws. This includes: compliance with medical marijuana laws, navigating restrictions imposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, FDA and healthcare law, including product warnings and labelling, licensing and permits, and investigations/information requests. Will has been ranked Nationwide Band 1 Cannabis Lawyer by Chambers USA and also serves on the American Herbal Product Association's Cannabis Committee and the Food and Drug Law Institute's Cannabis Committee.

Jennifer Minter

Co-Chair of Corporate Section & Sha - Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, P.C.

Jen is chair of the firm's Corporate section. She focuses her practice on a range of corporate finance matters, with an emphasis on federal and state securities law compliance, advising companies on corporate governance and board matters, securities transactions for private and public companies, private capital financings and ongoing representation of emerging growth companies. Jen is the go-to team member for her Cannabis industry experience with corporate matters, such as strategic planning, mergers & acquisitions, venture capital and private equity. She and Jason Wrona joined forces to bring the city of Pittsburgh's first medical marijuana dispensary to fruition.

Liz Westbrook

Senior Advisor - Gov't Relations - Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, P.C.

Liz Westbrook has spent over a decade in D.C. and in politics with experience on the campaign side, on Capitol Hill, and with various federal agencies, including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and Veterans Health Administration. She advocates on behalf of clients throughout the healthcare industry, with specialties in health IT, women's health, and cannabis. Ms. Westbrook has worked on behalf of cannabis clients on R&D matters as well as adult use covering issues from banking to clinical trials to descheduling. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Women in Government Relations, the premier professional association for women Members of Congress, and women working for and with the government.

University Technology Showcase

Kelauni Cook

Founder - Black Tech Nation

Kelauni Cook is the Founder and CEO of Black Tech Nation (//BTN), a digital network of Black technologists, innovators, and entrepreneurs headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. She built //BTN in 2017 after graduating from the first cohort of Academy Pittsburgh Coding Boot Camp and working in the tech industry as a software developer for The Washington Post.

After noticing the lack of Black involvement in the tech industry, Kelauni built Black Tech Nation to serve as a digital community and much-needed resource for the Black tech unicorns in Pittsburgh and beyond. //BTN now supports over 1200+ members and allies across the country, working in partnership with several Pittsburgh foundations, local institutions, global tech companies, and successful venture firms who are dedicated to diversifying the color of tech.

In recognition of her work and accomplishments, Kelauni was named one of 12 People To Meet in 2018 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Magazine. She was also featured in The Huffington Post for her presence in the international blockchain space, producing Pittsburghs first Blockchain conference in April 2018.

Kelauni is a native Chicagoan and a summa cum laude graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry.

Ilana Diamond

Managing Director - 412 Venture Fund

As Managing Partner of 412 Venture Fund, Ilana leads fund activities, including sourcing, evaluating and investing in the Pittsburgh regions most promising startups.

Previously, Ilana was a Managing Director of Riverfront Ventures, Innovation Works Venture Fund for early stage companies. She also served at Innovation Works as Managing Director of Hardware and AlphaLab Gear where she led a team that helped startups make rapid progress through the early stages of product and customer development.

Earlier in her career, Ilana led and grew tech companies from startup to exit, building management teams, raising venture capital, and managing mergers and acquisitions from both ideas of the table (buyer and seller).
Ilana frequently serves in leadership roles on boards of private companies and not-for-profit organizations. Her academic background includes a B.A. in Biological Sciences and Economics from Northwestern University, and an M.B.A. from Northwestern Universitys Kellogg School of Management.

Reed McManigle

Mentor-in-Residence - Carnegie Mellon University

Reed has over 30 years of experience in managing intellectual property and assisting in the formation and early funding of technology-based startup companies. He has been at CMU since 2006 and now focuses his efforts on assisting with the formation of startup companies around university inventions from all departments. Reed a mentor to teams in the CMU I-Corps Site and has served as a Business Mentor for three national NSF I-Corps teams from CMU.
Prior to CMU, Reed was a licensing officer at the University of Pittsburghs Office of Technology Management for ten years. While at Pitt, Reed was the primary author of the Universitys policy on startup companies; helped to launch and operate the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative; and launched and implemented a campus-wide faculty education program on technology transfer and commercialization. He also has extensive experience working in and with regional technology-based economic development groups, including at the Ben Franklin Technology Center of Western Pennsylvania (now Innovation Works) and at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse. At the PLSG, he managed a number of investment programs and the wet-lab incubator operated by the PLSG for start-up companies.
Reed received a BA in Political Science/Economics from the University of Dayton, a JD from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from CMU.
He is on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Forum, on the advisory board for Urban Redevelopment Authoritys Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Fund, and on the Screening Committee for BlueTree Allied Angels.

Patrick Morand

Partner - Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund

Patrick is the President of Open Prairie and has over 35 years of expertise in investment and company management for businesses in complex regulated industries and emphasis in turnaround management, investor relations and accountability standards and performance. Prior to joining Open Prairie, Pat was the Managing Director of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund and held the Chief Executive Officer position with three different companies in the biologics sector. He also served as Vice President of Commercial Operations for Genesis Therapeutics; Executive Vice President of Sequitor Medical Technologies; and Executive in Residence of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse where he provided support to over 65 companies representing in excess of $100 million in investment. With his intimate familiarity with life science companies at all stages, and Open Prairies belief that many components of the agricultural industry are paralleled with the life sciences, Pat brings a unique and invaluable set of experiences and skills to the development of prospective portfolio companies. Pat holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the Athenaeum of Ohio.

Paul Petrovich

- University of Pittsburgh - Innovation Institute

Since 2007, Paul has worked closely with university researchers to create startup companies that utilize university inventions. He is intimately involved in the Innovation Institutes National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program that supports the Pitt Ventures First Gear Program.
The Pitt Ventures First Gear Program trains faculty and students in experiential customer discovery initiatives relating to the commercialization and spinout of their university-developed technology. Paul oversees related workshops and business competitions focused on innovation and new company creation.
Previously, Paul was with the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence providing hands-on business development consulting to regional technology-based companies. He maintains an expertise in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and has consulted with over 80 participant companies, with successful awards well in excess of $25 million. Relatedly, he authored A Guide to Federally Funded Research, Budgeting and Accounting, a how-to tome to help small companies manage federal funding. In 2006, he received the prestigious national Tibbetts Award recognizing his services connecting Western Pennsylvanias technology-based companies with SBIR funding for research and product development. He has served on several loan and proposal review committees, including serving as Chair of the Pennsylvania Innovation Partnership Funding Committee.
Paul holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Keynote Speaker

Sid Jawahar

- Swiftarc Ventures

Sid is the Chairman of the Swiftarc Group which focuses on the Consumer Industry across different geographies and life cycles. He founded Swiftarc Ventures along with his co-founders, Frank Krasovec and Zohar Ziv to offer exposure to promising early and growth stage consumer companies in the US, leveraging the Firm's deep expertise in the industry. Sid also serves as the Managing Partner of the Swiftarc Group and its emerging markets hedge fund, Swiftarc Capital. Swiftarc Capital's portfolio consists of fast-growing consumer businesses that are listed in local markets in the following consumer staple categories: food retail, fast food, household products, fast moving goods, and food & beverage products. He started his career at Morgan Stanley and spent time in the firm's Hong Kong, Singapore and New York offices focusing on deal execution across various products and geographies. Over the years, Sid has advised and invested in several consumer and consumer-related companies.

Sid is focused on several key philanthropic areas which range from developing educational and after-school programs in challenging neighborhoods to helping integrate art and science learning in inner cities. The scope of programs currently includes outdoor learning initiatives, intensive summer programs and promoting the arts and sciences in low-income communities in several cities across the country. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Andy Roddick Foundation which specializes in summer and after-school programs.

Myah Moore Irick

Founder- The Irick Group - Merrill Private Wealth Management, The Irick Group

Myah Moore Irick joined Merrill Private Wealth Management in January 2020. Shefocuses onproviding wealth planning strategies to successful executives, individuals and families navigating sudden wealth, and a growing list of professional athletes.
Myah possesses a deep understanding of the psychology of wealth: the challenges that executives, individuals, seasoned professionals and even up-and-coming athletes face when making decisions about their financial futures. With this knowledge, Myah is able to help her clients identify what they really want their money to do for their lives, families and communities -and then create a wealth plan for achieving that.
For Myah, being a great advisor means going above and beyond the numbers. It means being a resourceful collaborator and trusted advisor, who digs deep into how their clients approach saving, spending and sustaining wealth. It means coming up with creative strategies to help them achieve their unique ambitions. And it means utilizing the vast resources of her firm to maximize their financial potential, provide for their loved ones and help themgive back to their communities.
Myah is devoted to giving back in her own life. While she spends much of her free time with her husband and three children, she also sits on a number of boards and committees that promote access to financial literacy, and equity & inclusion in the classroom and in the boardroom. She serves on the boards of the Carnegie Science Center and the Energy Innovation Center Institute, and also serves as a strategic partner to the United Nations Childrens Fund, the Poise Foundation, and Girls, Inc. Her experience as Miss Oregon (with the Miss Universe Organization) in 2003 inspired her ongoing commitment to promoting educational opportunities for women.
Previous to joining Merrill, Myah was an Executive Director at JPMorgan Private Bank and also served as a relationship manager at PNC Wealth Management. She has held several senior roles at Columbia University, where she advised families on philanthropy and estate planning solutions.
Myah received a B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a joint international M.B.A. with honors from Brown University and Institutode Empresa.