EFFERVESCENCE Pan-Canadian Start-up Pitch Competition 

The EFFERVESCENCE Pan-Canadian Start-Up Pitch Competition is designed to propel the rise of Canadian startups whose innovations are aimed at transforming the life sciences and health technologies (LSHT) community. The 10 startups selected as finalists for the 2022 edition were given the opportunity to present their pitch to EFFERVESCENCE participants during a virtual session open to the public.

We would like to thank the sponsors of the cash prizes, which include Pfizer, adMare BioInnovations, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, National Bank, Centech, Desjardins and MEDTEQ+, as well as the sponsors of the in-kind prizes, such as District 3, Investissement Québec, CQIB, CQDM, Medtech Canada, BioQuébec and Fasken!

Discover the finalists of the 2022 edition!

Axolotl Biosciences

Presented by Dr. Stephanie Willerth – CEO & Co-founder

Dr. Stephanie Willerth is the C.E.O. and co-founder of Axolotl Biosciences – an award-winning start-up that was spun out of her internationally recognized research group at the University of Victoria. She is a Full Professor and Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Victoria and she was recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars.

HDAX Therapeutics

Presented by Dr. Nabanita Nawar – CEO & Co-founder

Dr. Nabanita Nawar is the CEO and co-founder of HDAX Therapeutics. Nabanita is a highly skilled medicinal chemist with proficiency in drug discovery, project design, and strategic thinking. Nabanita’s diverse skillset of 8+ years in drug discovery, leadership, governance, and scientific policy drives the growth of HDAX through her visionary outlook. With 8 high-impact publications, 2 patents, and more than 20 awards, she is a UofT Top Scholar for being the Top 60 most outstanding students of UofT (tri-campus) (2 years in a row) and achieved The Society of Chemical Industry Merit Award, and Canadian Silver Medal from the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Targa Biomedical

Presented by Dr. Shant Der Sarkissian – CEO & Co-founder

Dr. Der Sarkissian is a scientific and business co-founder of Targa Biomedical, a biotechnology company focused on developing treatments to increase the therapeutic impact of regenerative medicine and opportunities for organ transplantation. As President and CEO, he is responsible for the business and strategic implementations of Targa Biomedical.


Presented by Étienne Laurent – VP Product & Co-founder

Étienne is a biomedical engineer and did his master’s degree in Technology & Innovation Management. During his studies and within the lab of his now partner Pr. Thomas Gervais, he was initiated to the fabrication of microfluidic devices and organ-on-chips technology for cancer research applications. Since then, Etienne has been on a mission to reunite the best team of scientists, engineers, and business partners to commercialize the MISO Chip tumor explant platform and its applications in drug development and cancer diagnostics. Etienne has now more than 4 years of experience in business development and strategy in the field of cancer drug development and the Medtech industry.

Xpan Inc.

Presented by Amanda Manget – R&D Engineering & Business Development Lead

Amanda is a medical device engineer & inventor with Medtech innovation training from Sunnybrook Hospital’s Medventions program. She has been with Xpan since the early stages of product development and is now towards FDA clearance.


Presented by Jérôme Arnaud-Kubota – COO & Co-Founder

Prior to co-founding NeuroServo, Jérôme served as General Manager for a 120+ employees Post/VFX studio (Montréal/Hollywood) where he operated a major M&A and VP Operations for OVH in charge of setting up a 150+ employees North American presence. Jerome has co-founded Bleu Blanc Tech, the Montréal’s frenchtech and is the author of the book “Gérer son temps, réseauter, convaincre”. With Nicolas Tremblay and Dr. François Marquis, Jérôme is a proud member of the core team of NeuroServo, a startup disrupting ElectoEncephaloGraphy in Intensive Care Units, Emergency Rooms, and the Operating Room.

Paperplane Therapeutics

Presented by Jean-Simon Fortin – CEO & Co-Founder

A graduate of the Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine at the University of Montreal in 2013, Dr. Jean-Simon Fortin has been practicing in the emergency department of the Granby Hospital since 2014. He also practiced for 3 years in the emergency department of CHU Sainte-Justine. Passionate about technology and innovation, he has worked as a consultant for medical technology companies. In 2019, he co-founded Paperplane Therapeutics, a therapeutic virtual reality company, where he now serves as CEO and Medical Director.


Presented by Inara Lalani – COO & Co-Founder

Inara Lalani received a BCom. at McGill University in 2020 with a Major in Information Systems and a Concentration in Entrepreneurship and Surgical Innovation. At 19, she co-founded FemTherapeutics with a mission to personalize precision medicine for women and is a certified Board Governance leader. She has worked in technology consulting, including Ernst & Young and Bell Canada, where she delivered large-scale technology transformation projects in the financial services, telecommunications, and consumer product goods sectors.

Ditch Labs

Presented by Laurent Laferrière – CEO & Co-founder

A serial entrepreneur, Laurent began his entrepreneurial career in 2014 by founding Oatbox, an e-commerce food company that aims to help Canadian families eat a healthier breakfast, every morning. In 2020, he made the leap to the medical technology side of things by founding Ditch Labs. Ditch Labs is developing the first technological solution to help smokers quit that combines pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The company wants to help one billion smokers worldwide get rid of their nicotine addiction and thus prevent the first cause of avoidable death, tobacco use. Laurent is also actively involved in the business community, notably as a member of the board of directors of Anges Québec.

Saguaro Technologies

Presented by Félix Lavoie-Pérusse – CCO & Co-founder

Félix Lavoie-Pérusse is co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Saguaro Technologies. He previously held strategic planning and business development positions in two high-tech startups where he helped generate 6-fold growth. His role involved connecting with users to inform product strategy and develop customer and partner relationships. Felix is trained in biochemistry and completed his MBA in 2017. With Saguaro, he hopes to help our next generations to live longer and healthier.

Jury members of the 2022 edition

Cédric Bisson

Cédric Bisson has extensive experience across Canada, USA and Europe creating, building and advising businesses in biopharmaceuticals, healthcare and the innovation sector in general. He is passionate about growing Canada as a premier environment for innovation, and during his entrepreneurial career as founder, investor or board member has structured and executed over $5 B in transactions.Mr. Bisson is currently partner at Teralys Capital where he focuses on life sciences and healthcare investments, as well as growth opportunities. Teralys Capital is a large Canadian private innovation-focused investor, financing funds and companies in IT, life sciences, and clean or industrial innovations, from early stage start-ups to expansion and growth.He was previously managing partner for life sciences at iNovia Capital in Montreal, Calgary and the USA. Prior to this, he spent many years internationally at McKinsey & Company in New York City, Paris, Montreal, and Toronto.Mr. Bisson obtained a M.D. degree from McGill University and a J.D. (law) degree from Universite de Montreal. In addition to Teralys, he chairs Procure, a non-profit charity for prostate cancer, sits on the boards of Montreal InVivo, a life sciences and health technologies cluster, and Grand Challenges Canada, a large impact-first organization supporting innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada, and finally most recently co-chaired Canada’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Task Force.

Cédric Bisson

Partner – Teralys Capital

Anne Woods

Anne’s position at SVB allows her to fluently combine her 10 years of experience in capital markets with her 13 years of experience in life sciences. In her role, she focuses on strengthening the bank’s position with leading-edge companies in Canada’s life science field. Anne finds this sector rich with bold innovations, and she thrives on supporting these game-changers as they effect the next breakthrough.

Anne She holds a BSc from McGill University, a MA from the University of Guelph and is a CFA Charterholder. In 2021, Anne was honoured to be awarded the Life Science Ontario volunteer of the year award.

Anne Woods

Managing Director, Life Science & Healthcare – Silicon Valley Bank (ON)

Chandra Kavanagh

With the health ecosystem evolving at lightning speed, it takes dynamic leaders to keep up. Dr. Chandra Kavanagh is the Director of Bounce Health Innovation, a medical technology cluster and health innovation incubator made from a unique partnership of TechNL, Eastern Health, Memorial University, Genesis Centre, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. Bounce is leading Newfoundland and Labrador to become the testbed for medical technology innovation in North America. Chandra has a PhD in Biomedical Ethics from McMaster University. Her varied career has included roles as the Ethics Officer for the Health Research Ethics Authority, the Feminist-in-Residence for the St. John’s Status of Women Council, and she regularly lectures for the Memorial University of Newfoundland Philosophy Department.

Chandra Kavanagh

Director, Bounce Health Innovation – Bounce Newfoundland (NL)

Lidija Marusic

Dr. Lidija Marusic is an investment director at Innovacorp, where her focus is on identifying attractive pre-seed and seed investment opportunities in the life sciences sector.

Joining Innovacorp in 2006, Lidija built the organization’s life sciences commercialization and venture capital practice. Today, in addition to managing a thriving portfolio of companies, Lidija fosters the commercialization of new medical innovations by guiding researchers and emerging start-up founders and helping deliver targeted acceleration programming.

Prior to joining Innovacorp, Lidija worked at MDS Capital and its seed fund MedInnova Partners, focusing on commercializing biomedical discoveries.

Lidija holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Zagreb in Croatia, a PhD in molecular genetics from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy, and an MBA from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Lidija is a board member at Axem Neurotechnology, Audioptics Medical, Covina Biomedical, as well as at CVCA (Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association), BioNova and Emagix. She is a board observer at Densitas and Spring Loaded Technology, and a member of the investment committee at MEDTEQ.

Lidija Marusic

Investment Director, Life Sciences – Innovacorp (NS)

Florence Rozen

Florence Rozen is the Scientific Director of Investments with Fonds de solidarité FTQ, a labour sponsored/development capital fund based in Montreal. There since 2009, she is responsible for scientific due diligence for all potential investment opportunities within the Fonds’ life science group. She is also responsible for monitoring the group’s biotech company portfolio, which cover areas such as oncology, rare diseases, gene therapy, as well as cardiovascular and infectious diseases, all in different stages of development. Prior to her 23 years in the venture capital industry (including the seed financing arm of MDS Capital where she held similar responsibilities), she has done research in the fields of endocrinology and oncology. She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from McGill University.

Florence Rozen

Scientific Director – Investments/Life Sciences – Fonds de solidarité FTQ (QC)

Nadia Dubé

Senior Project Director at Investissement Québec International since March 2021, Nadia contributes to the development of large-scale industrial projects in the life sciences and health tech sector and to foreign direct investment attraction. Combining her experience in building research partnerships between academia and industry to her scientific background and her knowledge of financial incentives, she brings creative solutions to the table to promote the growth of companies and the life sciences ecosystem in Quebec.

Nadia Dubé

Senior Project Director, Life Sciences and Health Technologies – Investissement Québec (QC)

Laurent Pacheco

Laurent is a Venture Partner with Oyster VP LTd., based in London. He is a seasoned healthcare finance and consulting professional, previously PwC healthcare in Paris and former Managing Director of market access and health economics at Syneos Health. Trained a medical Doctor, MBA and PhD in Economics, Laurent is also an alumnus of the Private Equity Institute at the University of Oxford.

Laurent Pacheco

Venture Partner – Life Sciences Investments & Fundraising – Oyster Venture (UK)

Robert Gamble

Robert is the Director of Strategy for Connected Care at Philips, a global health technology company. He is passionate about driving change in healthcare through meaningful innovation for providers and patients. Robert was previously a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and holds a Masters in Management from London Business School as well as a Bachelors in Applied Economics from Queen’s University. He is based in Boston, MA.

Robert Gamble

Director of Strategy, Connected Care – Philips

Christian Barrow

Chris is an Executive Director with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, based in Montreal, QC, Chris leads the Life Sciences commercial banking team across Canada. The focus of the team is to provide innovative financial products and networking to start-up through small cap companies in the space. Chris’ team specifically focuses on companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical, biotech, tools and diagnostic, specialty contract manufacturing and contract research spaces.

Chris has 25+ years of experience in the financial services industry with roles that have spanned from public accounting to banking sector. He has worked with and managed early stage through public life science, manufacturing and industrial corporations. Helping these organizations with structuring and implementing wide-ranging credit transactions.: bi-lateral through syndications and participations for these entities. He also brings expertise in treasury management for companies looking for efficient ways to manage their operations.

Chris received a BSc. in Biology and Graduate Diploma in Public Accountancy, from McGill University.

Chris currently serves on the Board of Directors of Association of Frontotemporal Dementia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Christian Barrow

Executive Director, Life Sciences – JPMorgan Chase Bank

Mounia Azzi

As Vice President, Program Development and Partnerships, Dr. Azzi is leading adMare’s project identification and scientific and commercial evaluation process, ensuring a robust and strategically diverse pipeline for the organization. With deep experience in corporate and business development, Dr. Azzi leads a team that is playing a key role in advancing adMare’s mission to build the Canadian life sciences industry by partnering with and investing in technology innovators and entrepreneurs – namely academic researchers and emerging Canadian life sciences companies. Most recently Dr. Azzi was the Executive Global Vice President, Corporate Development (and previously Chief Business Officer) at Nexelis. Prior to Nexelis, Dr. Azzi was Director, Scientific Affairs at the NEOMED Institute, responsible for the identification and evaluation of new opportunities to complement NEOMED’s prospecting activities. Previously, she was Director of Programs at CQDM, where she was responsible for the evaluation and management of research projects and funding programs. She was also actively involved in business development activities with industry partners. She started her career as leader of the cellular biology group at Bellus Health (formerly Neurochem Inc.), where she was involved in the development of therapeutics targeting Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Dr. Azzi holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris.

Mounia Azzi

Vice President, Program Development and Partnerships – adMare Bioinnovations

Dozie Amuzie

En tant que chef de Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS Canada, Dozie est responsable de l’engagement externe, de la recherche d’innovations, de l’intégration des entreprises, de la gestion du portefeuille, de l’excellence opérationnelle, de la programmation éducative et des profits et pertes. Il catalyse et soutient la transformation de la science et de la technologie en solutions utiles pour les patients et les consommateurs dans les secteurs des produits pharmaceutiques, des appareils médicaux, des produits de consommation et des technologies de la santé.

Dozie a rejoint l’équipe JLABS après avoir occupé la fonction de sécurité non clinique et de pathologie au sein de l’Organisation de la découverte, du développement de produits et de l’approvisionnement chez Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies de Johnson & Johnson, où il a dirigé l’équipe de pathologie de découverte et de projet aux États-Unis. Dozie et son équipe ont contribué à l’acquisition et à la découverte interne de plus de 20 entités biopharmaceutiques dans 10 modalités, de la découverte précoce au développement clinique, et pour certaines jusqu’à l’approbation. Dozie a également lancé et dirigé le groupe de travail interfonctionnel sur les oligonucléotides, qui a contribué à l’élaboration de stratégies pour les thérapies ARNi en cours de découverte et a joué un rôle essentiel dans la compréhension de la pathobiologie des immunothérapies contre le cancer en cours de découverte et de développement.

M. Dozie a obtenu un double doctorat en médecine comparative et en sciences toxicologiques intégratives à l’université d’État du Michigan et a effectué une résidence en pathologie vétérinaire à l’université d’État du Michigan. Il a également obtenu un D.V.M. de l’Université du Nigeria et est diplômé de l’American Board of Toxicology, ainsi que de l’American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

Dozie Amuzie

Chef de Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS Canada