Aki has over 20 years of private equity and merchant banking experience, currently as Co-founder and Managing Director of Rio Investment Partners, a Canadian based merchant banking firm focused on tech-enabled investing primarily amongst companies engaged in sustainability, health and wellness.
Aki co-founded the firm and has been integral in establishing Rio, and its predecessor Avrio Capital, as the global center of influence for food and agricultural investing. Engaged as a principal investor since 2002, he led the majority of the firm's investments where he has played an active role in defining and monitoring overall strategic plan development and execution thereon.
Before he became a venture capitalist, Aki was a Vice-President at Deloitte Corporate Finance in Calgary. He advised Canadian companies on public and private placements, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, and strategies for maximization of shareholder value. At Deloitte, Aki led several assignments in the biotechnology, agri-food, health care, manufacturing, and oil and gas sectors.
Previous investments include Farmlead Inc., Fody Food Co., Hortau Inc., Farmers Edge Ltd.,(Acquired by Fairfax), SunSelect (Acquired by Canopy Growth), Allylix Inc., (Acquired by Evolva), Ascenta Health Care Ltd., (Acquired by Nature's Way) Brookside Foods Ltd. (Acquired by Hershey Co.), Agribiotics (Acquired by Merck), Bioniche Life Sciences (TSX: BNC), MCN Bioproducts (Acquired by Bunge) and Ensyn Technologies. Aki currently serves as the Executive Chairman of Creations Foods and ROC Modular Inc., and is on the Board of the Pyure Company.
Aki is a Chartered Accountant, holds the Corporate Finance Qualification Program, is a CFA charter-holder and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Aki serves on the Board of Directors of the North Point School for Boys and has been active as a community football coach for ten years, most recently as the Head Coach of the Springbank Community High School Phoenix.
Carolyn Fritz has over twenty years of experience in building successful biotechnology businesses. From 2004 - 2014, she built Allylix, a synthetic biotechnology company, from a start-up to a successful sale of company. Prior to that, she built three businesses - a renewable chemical business and a biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing business at Dow Chemical and a specialty canola oil business at Cargill.
Ms. Fritz has been on the Cellucomp board since 2018. In addition to serving on the Cellucomp board, she is Chairman of the Board of DMC Biotechnologies and is on the board of Athena San Diego. She previously served on the boards of Allylix, BIO and Innovase. Ms. Fritz has an M.B.A from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. from George Washington University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University.
Ron Meeusen, PhD is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and co-founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron has over 35 years of experience bringing new technologies and products to market. He led biotechnology R&D for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health, novel foods and industrial materials. Ron led the world’s first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to Federal policy on biotechnology regulation, and active in industry trade groups.
Ron holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in plant physiology.