Team | Cannabis Testing - Commercial - Canada - USA


Singularly Qualified Expertise

We’ve assembled a group that includes technical experts, successful entrepreneurs, investors and process and operations specialists. No where else in the world will you find our combination of abilities — which is why Ekidna will remain the leader in rapid testing for cannabinoids in the future.

The Company

Nic Boileau, CEO

PhD Candidate, Chemical Engineering, University of Ottawa

Nic is one of the co-founders of Ekidna and has been leading the company since its inception. He was part of the team that initially developed the technology behind Ekidna’s lab-on-a-chip during his PhD candidacy. Nic has worked for DNA Genotek on their sales and operations team, where he made significant strides on business development and marketing projects. He also founded another startup, Canero, that developed aeroponics for year-round strawberry growth in cold climates. Nic has published several journal articles in the field of electronic sensors.

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Nicole Rice, VP Technology

PhD Materials Chemistry, McMaster University
Nicole is an extremely strong researcher with extensive R&D program management experience, focused on pushing forward innovations. She was previously a research associate at the University of Ottawa, managing a research lab of 20+ employees. She is an expert chemist and fundamental organic electronics researcher with 30+ publications to her credit.
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Jacob Watkins, Senior Scientist

MSc Experimental Particle Physics, Carleton University

Jacob leads our work on the sensor R&D side, and develops mathematical models and designs experiments for the electrochemical detection of cannabinoids in a variety of sample types. He also works with the hardware team to translate the results of experiments into practical application. He has worked as a research assistant with two project groups at Carleton University, and has had several lab based roles, including helping to develop new procedures that improve production capacity.

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Pankaj Bhanderi, Software Developer

BEng Electronics and Communication, Gujarat Technological University, with diploma's in Computer Programming, Electro-Mechanical Engineering/Robotics from Algonquin College

Pankaj’s interest in multiple engineering disciplines as well as programming made him a perfect fit for Ekidna. He began his career as co-founder and project engineer for Ahrnik Tech Solutions. As project engineer, he worked on multiple projects with a focus on microcontrollers in Embedded C and desktop applications. After moving to Canada, he was a technician with Abbott Point of Care for four and a half years, and then moved to a software developer role at The Bliss Group, where he worked for two years in both front and back-end development. Pankaj’s tech stack includes C, C#, Java, Python, HTML/HTML5, CSS/CSS3, XML, JavaScript, JQuery and SQL/MySQL/PostgresSQL.

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Cali Barnstead, Business Development & Marketing Coordinator

BComm with a major in Marketing Management, Dalhousie University

Cali is a marketing specialist with a background in organic digital marketing, focused mainly on SEO and email marketing campaigns. Coming from the world of B2B SaaS start-ups, she is used to wearing many hats, building as you go, and effectively managing her time to achieve all tasks on ever-growing to-do lists.

Cali enjoys crocheting, baking fun desserts, and pondering space exploration from a sci-fi and legal perspective.

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Del MacGowan, Junior Research Scientist

MSc Neuroscience, McGill University

Del has a background in neuroscience, with a focus on critical neurodevelopmental periods. As a student and research technician at Western University, he used AI-based tools to investigate the effects of early deafness on brain development. During his master’s at McGill, he combined techniques in neuroanatomy, molecular biology, and biosensors to uncover the effects of drug abuse on adolescent brain development. During this 5+ years of research experience, Del has gained expertise in all areas of experimental design, troubleshooting and execution.

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Ayesha Khan, Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Specialist

BASc in Biomedical Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa

Ayesha is a Biomedical Mechanical Engineering graduate with a passion for compassionate and accessible engineering. She has had the opportunity to work with the Tetra Society to find solutions to a variety of challenges faced by those with disabilities. Ayesha was nominated as “Project Manager of the Year 2022 – 2023” in her previous role with the University of Ottawa, managing student teams as they worked with various clients.

Connect with Ayesha on LinkedIn

Advisory Board

Tom Shipley, Entrepreneur, Cannabis Technology Executive

BSc Biopharmaceuticals-Genomics, University of Ottawa

Tom is the former chief science officer at Canopy Growth. He began his journey with Canopy as the designated quality assurance manager under the MMPR. He wrote the QA documents of the license application, including standard operating procedures for Canopy’s Quality Management System. After Canopy purchased the Hershey factory, he designed and implemented the analytical laboratories, led the development of analytical methods, and grew the quality assurance, quality control and regulatory affairs departments to over 80 staff across 12 sites of operation. He then focused on the development of novel cannabinoid products and cannabinoid delivery systems where he continued to be responsible for assigning quality attributes, validating analytical methods for each product category, and leading method transfers to other laboratories internationally.

Connect with Tom on LinkedIn

Julia Elvidge, Entrepreneur and Investor

BASc, BSc Engineering, University of Waterloo

Julia Elvidge is the past president and co-founder of Chipworks, a company that sold patent and technology intelligence-related products and services to large international electronics companies. After selling Chipworks to its largest competitor in 2016, Julia remained active in the tech community by working with companies and founders as an advisor and investor. Additionally, Julia is a member of the Canadian Institute of Corporate Directors and sits on boards in the tech and investment space, including ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative advisory board and the Capital Angel Network. Julia Elvidge is Ekidna’s lead investor through the Capital Angel Network.

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Sam Chandola, Entrepreneur and Investor

BA English, Delhi University; BA Philology Literature and Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin; Yellow Accelerator Program Alumnus

Sam is a serial entrepreneur in the software industry as well as an investor. He was the founder of V2 Games (exit to CSE: VST), Openspot Technologies (exit via management buyout), and Pepper Esports (exit to TSX.V: TGS).

Building on his 10+ years as a startup operator, Sam founded First Fund with the aim of promoting the growth of new startups by becoming the first investor for new founders. He has invested in over 25 technology startups, helping create hundreds of jobs in the process. Sam is a recipient of the 2014 BC Business Top 30 under 30 award, the RBC Top 75 Canadian Immigrant award, and the 2017 TMX Canada’s Next 150 award. In 2021, he was also named as one of the Top 24 people of Asian Descent to Watch by the Vancouver Economic Commission.

He routinely talks about entrepreneurship at events and universities such as Pecha Kucha Nights, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the Center for Digital Media. He was also the founder of Covid Helper, a non-commercial initiative to help those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Connect with Sam on LinkedIn

Avinash Persaud, Technology Executive

Engineering Science, University of Toronto

Avinash is an accomplished and renowned technology operations director/senior leader with well over two decades of experience in the global technology market. He has operated at a senior level in major electronics and semiconductor companies such as Spectra7 Microsystems, Fresco Microchip and AMD. Avinash is the VP of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative at VentureLAB and has been a fantastic resource for Ekidna on many aspects that hardware companies must consider, including key partner relationships, supply chain, operations, capital, etc.

Connect with Avinash on LinkedIn

Katie Kopansky, Go-to-Market and Growth Strategist

BA Economics, Queen’s University
Katie is a growth strategist and go-to-market expert with a decade of experience helping high-growth startups scale in expanding industries. She supports companies in identifying how they can create categories, and capture market share in rapidly evolving industries.
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Adam Shuhendler, Ekidna Co-Founder, Associate Professor & Canada Research

Chair (Tier 2) in Chemical Biology at University Of Ottawa PhD Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toronto

Adam is an expert in chemical diagnostics and probes. In 2015, he was recruited to the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Ottawa as a Canada Research Chair in chemical biology. Over the past five years, his lab has been developing new probe chemistries, enabling access to imaging biomarkers not previously possible. Adam is a part time advisor to Ekidna and regularly meets with the team to advise on chemistry, diagnostics, and sensors.

Connect with Adam on LinkedIn

Benoît H. Lessard, Ekidna Co-Founder, Associate Professor & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa

PhD Engineering, Chemical Engineering-Polymer Science, McGill University

Benoit is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials and Organic Electronics at the University of Ottawa. He has strong expertise in the development and manufacturing of novel carbon-based electronic devices through material design and synthesis and device prototype engineering. Benoit has published 109 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 patent applications, one book chapter and presented his work over 80 times at international and national conferences. Benoit is a part time advisor to Ekidna and regularly meets with the team to discuss manufacturing, sensors, and engineering.

Connect with Benoît on LinkedIn

Cory Harris, Associate Professor, Departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Ottawa

PhD Biology, University of Ottawa

Cory is an expert in medicinal plants including cannabis, and is a professor at the University of Ottawa with a licensed cannabis testing laboratory. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and three books, and trained more than 50 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers. He is a nominated member of the Natural Health Products Research Society Board of Directors and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Natural Health Product Research. Cory has served as an expert witness for the Department of Justice, has been an invited contributor to roundtable symposia for research and regulation, and a speaker for academic, government, professional, and community events. He has authored a commissioned policy guidance report on cannabis quality assurance standards for the province of Québec, and is a co-lead of the Cannabis Group at the Hub for Harm Reduction. He has also developed an active and experiential learning-based outreach workshop to improve cannabis literacy — understanding and navigating the cannabis space from science and regulations to devices and online sources of information. Cory is a part time advisor to Ekidna and regularly meets with the team to discuss and network with the cannabis industry, and advise on cannabis-related topics.

View Cory’s Profile on the University of Ottawa Website
Ekidna has also been privileged to have various “ghost boards” of advisors through programs such as MakerLaunch and ScaleUp Garage.

Discover Ekidna

Ekidna provides accurate and decentralized rapid testing for cannabis growers and product manufacturers. Learn more about the benefits we can provide to your business.