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About CubicFarms

Our Vision

Together we will transform the agriculture system to enable local food and feed independence. We are driven to revolutionize the agriculture system to enable every community, city, and country to provide fresh produce and livestock feed, onsite, in any climate, all year round.

Founded by Farmers

Borrowing from the founders’ Dutch heritage and extensive commercial growing expertise, we have systematically developed and/or acquired a portfolio of proprietary automated growing systems and supporting infrastructure designed to support large scale commercial growers in fresh produce and livestock feed markets.

CubicFarm Systems Corp. was originally founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of BevoFarms, a North American leader in plant propagation however the vision was ignited over a decade ago. The original insight came from Jack Benne, the founder of Bevo Farms, along with his son Leo, when they visited a Puerto Rico farm ravaged by a hurricane and realized just how difficult is was to grow fresh produce everywhere in the world. Immediately after that discovery, the two of them began experimenting with different ways to grow lettuce in a controlled indoor environment.
Along with a highly experienced leadership team and board of directors, Jack continues to be a valuable strategic advisor and Leo leads our innovative Research and Development practice at CubicFarms as our Chief Product Officer.

Our HydroGreen System technology for growing nutritious livestock feed was initially developed by Dihl Grohs for his ranches in South Dakota, Utah and Missouri. Dihl was first inspired to develop the concept of a low-maintenance feed growing system during his time spent raising cattle in Idaho. Limited precipitation in that area made supplying feed for cattle a challenge, exacerbated by competition from other dairies for quality feeds. With the HydroGreen System, Dihl achieved his goal of creating a straightforward, sustainable land substitute for producing feed in a manner that preserves farm profitability.

Our Leadership Team

At the intersection of experience in engineering, cultivation, manufacturing and global entrepreneurship, our management team has been assembled to drive growth at an international level.

Dave Dinesen

Chief Executive Officer

A seasoned CEO, Dave Dinesen founded his first venture, BackCheck, in 1997 and took it from a start-up to the largest background screening company in Canada and a leader in the UK. With over 500 employees in three countries, BackCheck served over 15,000 corporate customers and screened millions of people in Canada and the UK. A successful sale and merger with a larger US competitor, Sterling Infosystems, was completed in 2012. The merged business became Sterling BackCheck and Dave joined the New York executive committee and led the global business units for Canada, the UK, and Philippines. SterlingBackCheck was acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2015 and Dave left the organization and founded WideOcean Strategies Ltd., a boutique venture capital and consulting firm. In late 2015, Dave was tapped to lead the CubicFarm Systems team as CEO and bring this revolutionary technology to market globally. CubicFarms is quickly becoming a global leader in the controlled-environment-agricultural vertical farming space. Dave also serves on several for profit and non-profit boards.

Leo Benne

Founder, Board Member, Head of Invention

Leo currently serves as CubicFarms’ Head of Invention, overseeing the R&D of modules and produce. He gained advanced knowledge of modern horticultural methods in the Netherlands and has been instrumental in the development of the CubicFarms technology. Formerly the head of Bevo Farms, Leo grew Bevo to become the leading plant propagator in North America.

Jo-Ann Ostermann

Chief Customer Officer

Jo-Ann joined CubicFarms in 2016 as one of its earliest employees, and helped build the company from the ground up, with oversight across multiple departments including farming operations, R&D and machine installation. As Chief Customer Officer, she is responsible for overall customer experience, encompassing account management and customer support. She also oversees the Company’s subscription program, which includes software updates, new crop growing protocols, optimization data, training and grower support, as well as the consumables program, which includes the supply of seeds, nutrients, substrates, and packaging to customers. Jo-Ann is one of the few people in North America to have opened and operated a vertical farming operation on a commercial scale. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing with distinction and an MBA from the University of Calgary.

Edoardo De Martin

Chief Technology Officer

Edo brings significant experience to advancing artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and mixed reality technologies supporting our innovative growing technologies and ambitious goal to feed a changing world. He is a proven technology leader with more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry. Prior to joining CubicFarms, he spent 10 years at Microsoft working in various roles including General Manager of the Microsoft Vancouver Development Centre and driving innovation as GM of Dynamics Mixed Reality Applications on HoloLens, the world’s first holographic computer. Edo is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and began his career in telecommunications before transitioning to roles in the video game industry, where he is known for creating highly sought-after games. He delivered Need for Speed Underground, the franchise-leading, number-one selling game worldwide, and earned back-to-back ‘Best Company’ honours for operational excellence at Next Level Games (acquired by Nintendo). As an advocate for British Columbia’s tech industry, he has served on the board of BC Tech, Cascadia Innovation Corridor, and was Co-Chair of the Canadian Digital Supercluster.

Tim Fernback

Chief Financial Officer

Tim has over 25 years of finance experience as a director and officer of public and private technology, natural resources, health and biosciences companies. He has held senior executive positions within the investment banking and venture capital industries, as well as progressively senior executive officer positions within growing businesses, including ModoHR Technologies, Upstream Biosciences and Ronin8 Technologies. He has also successfully worked as a consultant in a variety of industries including biotechnology, SaaS, software, hospitality, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and real estate development. Tim has served on the board of numerous companies listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. He currently holds directorships in TSXV-listed Deep-South Resources and Tri Capital Opportunities. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from McMaster University and a Master of Business Administration degree specializing in Finance from the University of British Columbia. He is also a designated Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Management Accountant.

Sandy Gerber

Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Sandy has revitalized marketing and communications programs for companies of all sizes for over 20 years, including some of Canada’s most beloved brands such as Molson Canada, Appleton Estate, BC Lottery Corp, the University of British Columbia, and St. John Ambulance. Her marketing and communications expertise includes differentiation strategy, brand development, customer experience, business development and digital content marketing. She previously held executive and senior marketing leadership positions in a wide range of industries including advertising, consumer goods, heavy equipment, and non-profit. Sandy is the author of two books and the founder of three successful companies. As the CEO of NEXT Marketing Agency, she set a new standard for B2C and B2B innovative marketing, growing the agency into one of British Columbia’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies.

Dan Schmidt

President of HydroGreen International

Dan has spent more than 20 years forging a successful, proven track record for building commercial brands with some of the largest heavy agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world. He has been responsible for establishing and growing independent dealer-partner channel relationships for multi-national organizations, including John Deere, JCB and Stanley Infrastructure, while mentoring, developing and advancing the teams that work with him. Dan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Political Science and Business Communications from the University of Kansas, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business.

Tom Liston

Vice President, Corporate Development

Tom is a technology investor, advisor, and a Chartered Financial Analyst® with over 20 years of experience in capital markets and a strong track record of shareholder value creation in that capacity. He’s the founder of Water Street Corp and has served on several boards of directors including WELL Health Technologies (TSX: WELL) and Tantalus Systems Holding Inc. (TSX.V: GRID).

Rodrigo Santana

Head of Mergers & Acquisitions

Rodrigo is a senior executive with over 20 years of international managerial experience within global best-in-class technical services providers, focused on financial and operational management, strategic growth planning and execution, engineering, project management and operational efficiency. Previously, he held several leadership roles in growth-oriented companies, such as Dow Agrosciences, SGS and Commercial Testing & Engineering, with operations in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. He co-founded and operated the cultivation of hydroponic lettuce at the beginning of his professional career. Rodrigo has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Engineering from the Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management from Chicago, US.

Board of Directors

Jeff Booth, Chairman

Jeff has more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, responsible for growing innovative online marketplace BuildDirect.com to over $120 million in annual revenues. He is a recognized thought leader on entrepreneurship, technology and e-commerce, featured in major publications such as Forbes, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. In 2016, Goldman Sachs named him among its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs. He is a Founding Partner of OtioLabs, Co-Founder of addyinvest.com and NocNoc, and serves on the boards of Terramera, SPUD.ca, LlamaZOO, Synthiam and the Richmond Hospital Foundation.

Dave Dinesen

Dave is an expert in global operations management and corporate client acquisition. He leads growth at CubicFarms since inception, raising over $18MM in capital. He is the former CEO of BackCheck, where he advanced the company from a small business to an industry-leading company operating on three continents with over 500 employees.

Leo Benne

Leo is credited for developing CubicFarms’ technology for growing fresh produce along with his father Jack Benne, who is founder of Bevo Farms – one of North America’s largest plant propagation businesses. He gained advanced knowledge of modern horticultural methods in the Netherlands and subsequently through his involvement in Bevo Farms for almost 30 years. He has been a key figure at CubicFarms due to his extensive experience in the application of computer technology to the production of healthy, high-yield plants. Leo currently serves as CubicFarms’ Head of Invention, overseeing the R&D of modules and produce.

Janet Wood

Janet Wood is a globally recognized leader in the technology industry who has held roles with several major technology companies including IBM, Crystal Decisions, Business Objects and SAP. Janet has been recognized with a YWCA Women of Distinction Award the Canadian Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Women Award. She is a Board member of ICBC, Pureweb Technologies, and Junior Achievement of BC and sits on the University of Alberta Business School Advisory Committee.

Michael McCarthy

Michael is the Principal at McCarthy Pacific Group, consulting and advising on strategic business development, enhancing business-to-business marketing and enabling a culture of high performance. He has extensive leadership experience in the technology sector with companies such as Telus, IBM and Silicon Graphics, where he aggressively grew the business while developing future leaders.

Chris Papouras

Chris currently serves as strategic advisor at leading ag-tech investor Ospraie Ag Science, a CubicFarms shareholder. He has a special focus on manufacturing best practices in the controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) space. He currently serves on the boards of SEACOR Holdings and Freight Farms, and previously served on multiple boards of technology companies in the oil and gas industry.

Daniel Burns

Daniel is the first certified director in British Columbia (ICD.D) and one of the first in Canada. He is a member of the Law Society of BC and the Certified Professional Accountants of Ontario. He holds MBAs from University of Toronto and St Gallen, Switzerland. He is well versed in public markets, having created a capital pool company on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Scientific Advisory Board

CubicFarms has appointed a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) comprised of top experts in the fields of agriculture and technology. The SAB is primarily responsible for making recommendations to the Company’s senior leadership team regarding research and development priorities. By combining the substantial expertise of the SAB with the expertise of the Company’s internal research and development (R&D) team, CubicFarms is well positioned for advancements in ag-tech. Read more in our press release here.

Dr. Lenore Newman

Scientific Advisory Board Chair

Director of the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley (UVF) where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment. She’s an associate professor in the department of geography and the environment at UFV and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s New College. She holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from Toronto’s York University and has published over 50 academic journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Newman research includes agricultural land use policy, agricultural technologies, and bioengineering in the food system. She was a member of the British Columbia Premier’s Food Security Task Force, sat on the B.C. Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Revitalizing the Agricultural Land Reserve, and regularly speaks to government and community groups. Her first book, Speaking in Cod Tongues, was published to wide acclaim in 2017 and won a Saskatchewan Book Award. Her second book, Lost Feast, was published by ECW Press in 2019, was awarded silver in the 2019 Forward INDIES, and was the winner of a Canadian Science Writers Award.

Dr. Tammara Soma

Dr. Soma MCIP RPP is an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management (Planning program) at Simon Fraser University and Research Director of the Food Systems Lab. Originally hailing from Indonesia, she conducts research on issues pertaining to food loss and waste, food system planning, food access, and the circular economy. Dr. Soma is the Co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Food Waste, and co-founder of the International Food Loss and Food Waste Studies group, a global network of food loss and waste researchers and practitioners. Dr. Soma was selected as a committee member of the U.S. National Academies of Science and co-authored the consensus study A National Strategy to Reduce Consumer Food Waste. She is registered professional planner (RPP) and holds a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP) designation.

Dr. Laila Benkrima

Director of Program Development for the new Agriculture Technology Program at Simon Fraser University and Director of LB Plant Biosciences Research and Consulting Inc., Dr. Benkrima has extensive experience in research, training, and teaching horticulture techniques and as a crop consultant to greenhouse and farming operators. She holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Master of Science Degree in Plant Physiology from the University of Paris, France. She has been responsible for the planning, development and creative problem solving of various projects from plant micropropagation and functional/medicinal crop cultivation to hydroponics and laboratory design. Dr. Benkrima works as an independent consultant for companies in the agricultural, horticultural, and nutraceutical sectors. She has experience in advising various types of agriculture, horticulture and biotechnology related projects in commercial production, and resource development. She’s identified and recommended potential market opportunities, product line expansions, new product development and recently assigned patents for many B.C. companies. Dr. Benkrima provides specific experience in working with micropropagation, a technique widely regarded as the preferred option for large-scale commercialization of many economically important crops.

Dr. Evan Fraser

Professor Evan Fraser, PhD, is a full professor at the University of Guelph, the Director of the Arrell Food Institute, a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Dr. Fraser helps lead the Food from Thought initiative, which is a $76.6 million research program based at the University of Guelph exploring how to use big data to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. He works with large multi-disciplinary teams on developing solutions to help feed the world’s growing population. He co-chairs the Arrell Food Summit and manages the Arrell Food Scholarship program, as well as the Arrell Food Innovation Awards that deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to groups that have made tremendous impacts on global food systems. As a researcher, Dr. Fraser is a co-author on over 100 academic papers and book chapters and played a leadership role in teams that have raised over $100M in research funding. Dr. Fraser’s non-fiction book Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations was shortlisted for the James Beard Food Literature Award. His web video series on “feeding nine billion” has been watched over 500,000 times; he has self-published a graphic novel #FoodCrisis about a fictitious food crisis that hits North America in the 2020s; and he created a card game about global food security that won a gold medal at the International “Serious Play” conference.

In addition to these members, the SAB will also include current leadership from CubicFarms including Leo Benne, Founder of CubicFarms; Tim Fernback, Chief Financial Officer, CubicFarms; and Edoardo De Martin, Chief Technology Officer, CubicFarms. Learn more about them here.