KASTx Ventures brings together experienced, values-based leaders who not only believe in thinking outside the box, but that there is no box to constrain us to begin with.

Our mission is to rapidly commercialize the best science into successful ventures that have a global health impact. 

We find alignment with the portfolio companies we serve by first identifying management teams with strong values and differentiated skill sets that have identified an idea that will disrupt and create exponential impact in their chosen market. 

Dr. Lawrence Korngut

MD MSC FRCPC​

Partner

Lawrence is the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of AazeinTx, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing an oral small molecule therapeutic targeting a novel neural-mediated airway reflex pathway to rapidly reverse asthmatic bronchoconstriction.

Lawrence is also the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Dataffinity Health Inc, a successful digital health company focusing on the end-to-end development and operation of data platforms (registries) that facilitate the collection of patient data through clinician networks to provide insights into disease natural history and effects of therapies. Dataffinity is currently managing national and multi-national projects in 7 countries through partnerships with multiple research networks and major pharmaceutical companies.

Lawrence is a neurologist with extensive experience in the design of clinical development programs the and design and conduct clinical trials of new therapies for different muscle and nerve diseases. He has published over 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals and has advised a multitude of pharmaceutical companies in the clinical development process from pre-clinical through to regulatory and health technology assessment.

Lawrence is a Neuromuscular Neurologist specializing in diseases of the muscles and nerves. He is the Director of the Calgary Neuromuscular Program and the Calgary ALS and Motor Neuron Disease Clinic. He serves as Director, Innovation and Commercialization, at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary and as Scientist at Creative Destruction Labs – Rockies.

Mark Starratt

ICD.D, FEA, BCOMM

Partner

After 25 years in the financial services industry, Mark retired from the wealth management industry in December 2018.  Prior to that he had worked as a Partner, Director Wealth Management and Portfolio Manager with Richardson GMP Ltd. and was First Vice President with a major bank-owned brokerage firm for more than a decade.  He and his brother Scott were business partners for more than 21 years.

Outside of his vocation, Mark served on the Board of Governors at the University of Calgary and was Vice Chair of the Investment Committee and member of the Executive Committee.  Mark is a passionate Rotarian and became one of the youngest District Governors in 2008/09 in the Rotary world when he served District 5360, representing Southern Alberta and Western Saskatchewan.  

Mark recently completed a 4-year term as a Director of the Paralympic Foundation of Canada and currently sits on both the Calgary Rotary Clubs Foundation and the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Cumming School of Medicine. In April 2013, Mark and his wife Jennifer formed The Starratt Family Foundation to advance neuromuscular disease education and research and to help improve accessibility for those with disabilities. Mark serves on several private company boards and leads a Single Family Office based in Alberta.

Gordon Anderson

B. ADMIN., TEP, ICD.D, FEA, CFA

Partner

Gord has over 30 years financial services experience with his last role as President of Cidel Trust Company, a national trust company and asset management firm. Other senior positions with CIBC and RBC included senior leadership, corporate strategy, corporate services, governance, sales management, investment management, fiduciary services, philanthropic planning, cross border structuring, risk management, and training and development.

As President of Cidel Trust, Gord led the creation of a national trust company, was responsible for institutional asset management for Western Canada and also created a national indigenous strategy as well as building out strategic relationships with ATB and Richardson GMP. At RBC, Gord’s last role was Joint Head of the Caribbean (Barbados, Cayman and the Bahamas) for RBC International Wealth Management responsible for discretionary asset management, RBC Dominion Securities, global custody, captive insurance, and fund administration, as well as trust and corporate services based out of Barbados.

Gord serves on several for profit and not for profit boards and is currently Chapter Chair for YPO Gold Alberta. Gord is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA),  Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP),  Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA), and Corporate Director (ICD.D).

Gord is the Founder and CEO of Anchor Wealth Advisory, a consulting firm that focuses on governance and strategy for successful families. Gord also has a deep passion for Indigenous Economic Development.

Jeff MacDonald

CFA, P. ENG.

Jeff’s diverse background is tailored to helping CEOs and founders develop ideas, validate markets, and scale their companies. Experienced in public and private sector environments, Jeff has held a variety of technical, financial, and executive roles in both Canada and the United States. His nearly 15 years of experience in oil & gas, investment banking and data science provide a strong foundation for working with executive teams from all industries on their specific challenges. With more than $20 billion in announced M&A activity as an investment banker and business development professional, he appreciates the challenges and considerations facing business leaders on a daily basis. Jeff is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and he holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Rice University.

Blaine Penny

B. eng.

Director, Operations

Blaine began his career as a Professional Engineer, with a focus on leadership and management roles.  He has over 20 years of experience leading and managing large teams and portfolios, capital investment projects, portfolio and product management, M&A, and go-to-market strategies.  Fifteen of those years were in Executive roles and included Co-founder and CEO of MitoCanada, CEO of the start-up engineering firm Integrated Sustainability, and Vice President of the global technology firm IHS Markit. 

Blaine’s involvement in rare disease advocacy and research began in 2009 with the tragic onset of a mitochondrial disease in his then 4-year-old son. Motivated to help others going through similar experiences, Blaine co-founded the MitoCanada Foundation, which has raised over $3 million to advance mitochondrial medicine.

Blaine’s governance experience includes serving on multiple Boards, including three as Chair.  Blaine is currently the Intricate Group Board Chair, a Director with the MitoCanada Foundation, and Director with Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD). Additionally, Blaine is an Executive Advisor to the Mitochondrial Innovation Initiative (Mito2i – a strategic initiative at the University of Toronto) and a co-chair of the working group for the Canadian Rare Disease Drug Strategy. 

Janet Petrillo

MSc

Director, Clinical Development

Janet Petrillo has more than 16 years of experience leading site clinical trials resulting in over 130 clinical trials conducted, 16 of which include supervision and project management. For the last 11 years she has led Neuromuscular Research activities.

Previously Janet was responsible for HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials. In her past role she led the transition from a small number and scope of studies to the development of a successful Phase 1, 2, and 3 Research Unit. She established a consistent and noteworthy track record leading global recruitment and achieving maximum site metrics, becoming a Top Performer Globally in multiple diseases.

Her experience in all levels of Clinical Research Administration, knowledge of Health Canada processes, and Ethics requirements has been a valuable resource in her roles and also as a national leader within the clinical research community. 

Michael Smith

Director, Capital partnerships

Michael Smith has spent 20 years in the capital markets and financial services industry, where he has both domestic and international experience working for both public and privately held investment banks. His primary focus area has been working with entrepreneurially-minded, high net worth private clients with a mutual emphasis on premium quality public and private equity investments.

Michael currently works with a select group of early-stage companies in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and sports technology.

Prior to his focus on financial services, he had a very successful athletic career representing Canada internationally in the sport of decathlon, where he was a 3-time Olympian and a World Championships and Commonwealth Games medalist. Throughout his 13-year track and field career Michael also had the opportunity to partner with many large domestic and multinational organizations where they entrusted him to represent their brands both on and off the competitive field.

As a big believer and recipient of mentorship, Michael served as a Director, Secretary and Ombudsman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary from 2014 to 2018.

Jan Nighswander

CPHR

Director, Human Resources

Jan Nighswander has over 30 years of experience in corporate human resources and human resources consulting. Through her career, Jan has designed and built HR infrastructure for organizations from start up through to late stage development and full operations. She is committed to ensuring that human resources programs and practices are built to reliably support the business operations and its employees to achieve success.

Following her corporate experience, Jan led the transition management practice for two North American consulting firms, assisting clients in the energy, regulatory, retail and health care sectors to develop and execute strategic business plans and realign business operations to meet market demands. 

Jan returned to a corporate role as Executive Vice President Human Resources and Chief Privacy Officer at LifeMark Health. She led the ground floor development of the human resources function and as a member of the executive team was involved in the due diligence and integration of several acquired businesses. Following the acquisition of LifeMark Health by Centric Health, Jan relocated to Toronto as the Chief Human Resources Officer to support the integration of the two businesses.

Jan left Centric Health and started her consulting practice in 2012, providing strategic organizational advisory services, employee engagement assessment, leader coaching and customized human resources solutions to a wide variety of industries. Her clients include organizations in energy, engineering, independent health care, marketing, seniors’ services, financial services and education. Jan brings a straightforward approach to helping leaders and organizations find practical solutions to support their business success. 

Filip Korngut

Director, Technology and Information Security

BASc PEng CISSP CASP+ CySA+ PenTest+ Security+

Filip has over 15 years of combined experience in database development, project management and information security in the health, mining, non-profit, and oil and gas sectors. He has extensive experience managing the development of major software and digital transformation solutions across multiple industries with heavy focus on cybersecurity and compliance. Filip has led cybersecurity engagements for big four consulting organizations and is proficient implementing cybersecurity frameworks such as ISO, CIS and NIST.

Ryan Wallace

BCOMM

Manager, Marketing & Communications

Ryan has worked to accelerate small and medium-sized companies in the Banking, Post-Secondary, Energy, and Financial Services industries. Most recently, Ryan worked with a services and technology company that supported senior executives trying to leverage digital tools to discover cost savings and deliver unprecedented value. Ryan emphasizes collaboration, communication, and creativity to find innovative solutions that improve value and growth.

Ryan is the Director, Marketing & Operations for Dataffinity Health Inc. Dataffinity Health, has built a collaboration platform for Health Communities to grow together that has proven to advance the treatment discovery process. Dataffinity Health has developed data collection platforms that enable patients and their healthcare teams to collect data securely while navigating barriers around patient privacy, data ownership, and the complex international regulatory landscape to facilitate global research.

Ryan is a graduate of the Bachelor of Commerce program at the Haskayne School of Business. During his time at the University of Calgary, he held numerous leadership positions, including the President of the Haskayne Students’ Association, and the Vice President, Operations & Finance for the Students’ Union. The University of Calgary, Students’ Union, is an ~$18 Million non-profit that represents students to University leaders and multiple levels of government. During his term with the Students’ Union, Ryan played an instrumental role in settling a decade-long legal dispute with the University of Calgary. 

Kristine Lee

B. Journalism

Venture Coordinator

Kristine is a passionate writer and storyteller who has worn a number of different hats in the writing and editing fields. With a background in journalism, she has developed a knack for telling people’s stories in creative and compelling ways. She has helped different companies develop and grow their online presence in the non-profit, health and wellness, and real estate industries. She firmly believes in a social media marketing strategy that is unique to a company and its people, taking the opportunity to produce engaging and timely content. She also has experience in video production, radio and audio production, and photography. 

Devon Lee

BHPE

Venture Coordinator

Devon combines his enjoyment of explorative hobbies with his formal education to become a passionate lifelong learner with strong communication and the ability to form deep, meaningful relationships. He has been working as a personal healthcare aide, supporting children with neuromuscular diseases. Devon’s scientific background in kinesiology and effective communication skills add value to KASTx Ventures portfolio companies by providing marketing and value proposition support.

Wendy Scarrett

Executive Assistant

Wendy graduated from Capilano College in North Vancouver and worked as legal assistant early in her career. She has an extensive range of high-quality experience working previously with the Department of Justice, Department of Indian Affairs and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Wendy’s last role was as an Executive Assistant for the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia supporting the President, Board of Directors, Executive and Management Committees. 

Introducing our latest ventures