Mentorship & Advisory Services
Starting or building a business is not easy. However, getting the right mentorship can be. To assist our entrepreneurial ventures and small / medium enterprises, the Innovation Mill has engaged an exceptional group of community and business leaders that are committed to supporting you on the nerve-racking, exciting, stressful, and challenging path of building and growing your business.
This is the starting point of engaging with the Innovation Mill – finding and connecting you with the right mentors to work with you to understand your business goals and how best to get there. Once connected with your mentor, we will work with you to determine if you would benefit from connecting with one of the Innovation Mills' preferred service providers, our market research team, or other members in our network.
To embark on your entrepreneurial journey with us, please review the follow terms and conditions and complete the online Discovery Document.
Our NORCAT Mentors
Tom Fortin - Advanced Materials, Manufacturing, and Hardware
Tom is the owner of a Sudbury-based electronics design and manufacturing company, Ontrak Control Systems (www.ontrak.net ). Ontrak specializes in the design and manufacture of serial data acquisition interface devices used in industrial, medical and retail automation applications. Ontrak contains a complete product design center with in-house, PCB and enclosure manufacturing, safety and EMC certification, CNC machining, and injection mold design.
After graduating from Cambrian in 1984 from the Electronics Engineering Technology program, Tom started his career installing process control systems for paper machines in various Northern Ontario communities. He returned to Sudbury in 1985 and with a partner, opened a computer repair and installation business which evolved into Ontrak. He also taught electronics technology at Cambrian College for 12 years, resigning in 1998 to focus solely on Ontrak.
Tom is passionate about manufacturing in Canada and has helped start many technology companies producing medical devices, lasers, and automation products. The Fortin Foundation, created in 2004, promotes efforts by youth in manufacturing through free consultation and sponsorship of events such as the annual Ontrak 2X4 Innovation Design Challenge.
Luc Roy Information and Communications Technology, Online, and Digital Media
Luc is the Chief Information Officer for Laurentian University and co-owner of Old Rock Roastery. As CIO at Laurentian, Luc is responsible for IT, Media and Web services. In 1987, Luc graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Computer Science. Luc worked as the Director of Product Marketing for Bay Networks and many of its subsidiaries for 13 years. He continued to work in the computer networking industry as Vice President - Product Planning for Chantry Networks Inc. (acquired by Siemens), Vice President - Wireless Strategy for Siemens Enterprise Communications, Vice President - Market Management for Siemens Canada, Vice President - Wireless Strategy for Enterasys Networks, Director of Marketing for Greenfield Networks (acquired by Cisco) and Vice President - Product Management and Marketing for BlueCat Networks.
In 2007, Luc opened Old Rock Roastery with his wife Carole in Sudbury. Their coffee house looks to expand their brand, create a corporate headquarters in Sudbury, and open franchise locations. Old Rock has been a recipient of many prizes including 2008 Start-Up of the Year by Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, 2008 Enterprise of the Year (1-15 employees) by Northern Ontario Business Awards, and the 2009 “Entreprise Coup d’coeur” of Ontario by RDÉE Ontario (Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité).
Cathy Nadjiwon Mining, Mineral Exploration and Spatial Information Technology
Cathy is a surveyor and a geomatics professional specializing in the mineral exploration and mining sectors. Currently she is the president of UnderCover Innovations Inc., a product innovation and development company. Until 2007 she co-owned and operated two successive GIS services and spatial application development companies and recently retired as Business Development Manager for CAE Mining Canada. Cathy has also consulted for a company based in Cambridge, Ontario, in the areas of business start-ups, financing, I.T., and strategic business and market planning. She was recognized as their first ever Entrepreneur of the Year (1-50 Employees) by the Greater Sudbury (GS) Chamber of Commerce, as an Influential Women of northern Ontario by NOB, twice recognized as Woman of the Day, and has received a Professional Leadership Award as a Professional Surveyor and Geomatics Specialist from Sudbury Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW).
Cathy has served on many volunteer boards at both local and provincial level. In June 2011 she completed a term on the Laurentian University Board of Governors, was a member of the LU Senate and was the Vice Chair of the Finance Committee at Laurentian University. She was also appointed as the first ever female Treasurer of the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2003, overseeing a $100M+ annual budget. She also served for 12 years on the Board of Directors for the Northern Ontario Business Awards and has been a Judge for the Ontario Global Traders Awards program at both regional and provincial levels.
Joet Dhatt Brand Development
Joet is an entrepreneur that loves the concept of developing brands. Joet’s current venture is Blink Consulting (www.blinkconsulting.ca) – a strategic consulting company located here in Sudbury, Ontario. Blink Consulting specializes in collaborating with companies that need direction in their marketing strategy, and establishes pathways for their success as a whole.
Joet is a graduate of the Laurentian University MBA program, and has been applying his knowledge and passion for business into many ventures over the last 15 years. Introduced to the marketing+design world early in his career, Joet took an extreme interest in developing brands, which had him producing several Applied Arts award-winning projects, and even winning Gold at the Digital Marketing Awards. Joet’s entrepreneurial interests and knowledge of brand building had him venture out on his own, opening retail outlets on the West Coast and then extending his concept back to Ontario.
Joet has extensive experience in positioning brands through market analysis, developing marketing strategy, and understanding how to use marketing mediums most effectively. He’s an investor, entrepreneur and family man. And he’s ready to take his passions in strategy and innovation and help them fuel growth in the North.
Ed Wisniewski Software Development
Ed is the Director of Software Development, Information Technology, and Building Management / Services at NORCAT. With a small team of programmers and information technologists, Ed ensures the success of NORCAT’s training products, training services, and the high-tech infrastructure. He also provides a wealth of skills that the residents of NORCAT tap into to help further develop their technology requirements and needs.
With 17 years of experience at NORCAT, Ed has been involved in the development of all of the products which define NORCAT as a Training and Innovation centre since 1995 and has kept NORCAT in the forefront of software development and information technology. Over the last year, Ed has also undertaken the NORCAT facility as Building Manager.
Ed was the partner / CEO in a successful software development company for approximately 10 years. He has developed a product line of tools for other developers in the world of automation. He sold his company to further his future with NORCAT.
In his spare time, Ed works to further his music career. With skills on the piano, guitar, bass, and drums, he has written music for local charity campaigns and plays in a band who dedicate their time to benefit concerts that raise money for cancer awareness along with food drives during holiday seasons.
When he’s not pretending to be a rock star or computer geek, Ed spends his time with his family actively involved in keeping up with the 6 am hockey games with his two boys in the winter or spending countless hours at camp water skiing, tubing, fishing, and just downright having fun.
Conway Fraser Communication Strategy and Marketing
Conway Fraser is a Gemini Award-winning former CBC journalist and the Managing Director of Fraser Torosay Inc., a strategic communications consultancy. His clients range in sectors such as mining, engineering, telecommunications, education, government, politics, finance, construction and software development. His job is to help them effectively tell their stories to various audiences. Previous to a career in PR, Conway spent 20 years with the CBC in several roles including Investigative Journalist, National Reporter and Senior Producer.
He won or was a finalist for 22 journalism awards, has been recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 recipient and was awarded the inaugural Laurentian University Young Leader Award. Conway and his wife, Angie, have four children and are very proud to call Sudbury their hometown.
Peter Dal Bianco Management Consulting and Marketing
With over 38 years of experience starting, running and managing many different types of businesses, Peter Dal Bianco is an award winning, experienced and successful Northern Ontario entrepreneur, who started Bianco's group of companies in downtown Sudbury in 1975. During this period, Mr. Dal Bianco gained invaluable skills and understanding on how to survive, compete and succeed against, what at times, seemed like insurmountable odds.
From being in a franchise to being a Franchisor to being an independent retailer when banks, the economy, technological changes and personal strife challenges your enterprise, Mr. Dal Bianco has lived through it and managed to overcome whatever obstacles arose along the way.
Jamie Dewar is the Marketing Manager and General Manager of Legend Boats in Sudbury, Ontario. As a second-generation owner of the company, Legend Boats focuses on delivering the absolute best value in the marine industry and making it as easy as possible to get involved in boating. In 2013, Legend Boats won the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce’s “Company of the Year” award. The award recognizes an organization in the private or public sector that has demonstrated significant business achievement, sustainable financial performance, outstanding growth and success, and has a significant impact on the areas economy.
Jamie graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2004 with a BSC & BBA, Business, Physics and Computing.
Michael graduated from Laurentian University with an Honours Degree in Economics in 1989. Upon graduation, he started his career with London Life in Sudbury on May 1, 1989. In 1997 Michael formed DiBrina & Associate’s & Sure Benefits Consulting. Today the company is known as DiBrina Sure Group which has grown to 60 employees over 3 locations – Toronto, New Liskeard and head office in Sudbury.
His entrepreneurial achievements were recognized in 2013 as he was awarded the Bell Excellence Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. Michael DiBrina TEP is a Registered Trust and Estate Practitioner who is internationally recognized as a leader in the insurance industry. Michael has been a member of MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) since 1993 and is among the top 4-5% of producers worldwide in the insurance industry. Michael has also qualified for Top of the Table for the last 12 years, a membership that only includes 0.5% of the hundreds of thousands of professionals in the world. Michael believes in helping his community with both his time and financial contributions. He has been involved with United Way, the Sudbury Hospital, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and the Cancer Center.
With his heritage deeply and proudly in Northern Ontario, Jeff Fuller has tapped his entrepreneurial spirit and Northern roots to expand and grow his business internationally. Following a strong family tradition, Jeff has stayed true to his entrepreneurial pedigree. With an Honors Commerce Degree from Laurentian University and a real life exposure to SME’s through his father’s family business, Jeff started Fuller Industrial in 2004 to provide carbon steel rubber lined fittings to the world.
Since opening their doors in 2004 Fuller has shipped pipe to every continent and has enjoyed exponential business growth. Fuller boasts the most advanced pipe fabrication facility in North America and has patented leak detection technology and industry leading project pipe project management intellectual property. Other business’s currently or previously owned or partnered in by Jeff include MJ Fuller Real Estate Holding Company, Acorn Mill Direct (Hong Kong), ABS Manufacturing and Distributing, Fuller Western Rubber Linings Limited, SPJ Labs and Legend Studio.
Jeff is Past President of SAMSSA, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Yves Landry Foundation.
Mario Grossi is the founder and CEO of Technica Mining, a premier underground mining and construction contractor. Technica’s work includes the underground development and construction of mine sites and shafts, as well as the repair and maintenance of this infrastructure. They are best known for the quality of their work and the timely completion of projects, as well as for their outstanding safety operation. The majority of their work can be found across Northern Ontario, as well as in Nevada, USA. As the founder and CEO of Technica Mining, Mario Grossi is actively involved in all aspects of one Canada’s premier contractors for underground construction, repair, and maintenance.
His work at Technica Mining has helped build the company into one of the most sought after contractors in the Sudbury Basin, and beyond. Their work can be found across Northern Ontario and more recently, in Nevada USA. Mario’s passion for quality work and worker safety has also had a great impact on culture of Technica. As a result, Technica Mining boasts one of the best safety records for the sector, and was recognized in 2008 and 2009 by the Mines and Aggregates Safety and Health Association (MASHA) for being an industry leader in workplace health and safety. Outside of Technica, Mario is involved in Sudbury’s start-up community.
He is an active investor in early stage businesses and generously gives up his time to help mentor and support local start-ups.
Dr. Dennis Reich is a practicing physician with over 14 years of experience in healthcare provision as well as leading and encouraging innovative technology initiatives. He has recently started a new medical services venture called the Greater Sudbury Medical Centre in the Real Canadian Superstore which will provide services to Sudbury's patient population. A respected physician leader in his community Dr. Reich worked closely with many talented physician partners for over 11 years and eventually sold the medical clinics in 2010.
Dr. Reich has been the president of the Sudbury and District Medical Society and is actively involved in medical politics locally and provincially. Dr. Reich has over 12 year of experience in medical research. He is trained in GCP and has been the Principal Investigator for numerous studies through Phase 2 and Phase 4 studies. He is a researcher, owner and director in Medicor Research Inc. in Sudbury. As a technology consultant he has worked with companies such as IBM, GE Medical, and OMA eServices. He sits on the board of directors of Conceptshare Inc, and was previously the medical director for Isaix Technologies Inc. and Ontrak Medical. Dr. Reich founded Chyma Systems Inc, a leading provider of groupware and scheduling applications aimed specifically at physicians and healthcare teams and later sold to Isaix Technologies in June 2005. Prior to Chyma, Dr. Reich founded CanadianPhysician.ca, a national physician portal that provided relevant technology tools, content and e-learning.
Dr. Reich has been involved in multiple committees including the P5 (Pandemic Portal) committee, the Northern ICT (LHIN Technology) steering committee and has been on the e-business advisory committee for the Canadian Pharmacists Association. Dr. Reich graduated from Queens University and received a family practice degree from Laurentian University.
As the Managing Partner and co-founder of Freelandt Caldwell Reilly, Edwin truly embodies what it means to lead by example. By setting his own standard of achievement exceptionally high, he encourages those around him to do the same. An entrepreneur at heart, Edwin’s core competency is working with the business owners of small and mid market enterprises in an advisory capacity. He enjoys the opportunity to work with some of Northern Ontario’s most inspired entrepreneurs and decision makers on a day to day basis.
With over 25 years of experience to his credit, Edwin is proactive in his identification of client needs and opportunities drawing on his expertise in accounting, assurance, tax and succession planning. Although practiced in many accounting disciplines, Edwin’s competitive edge lies in transaction advisory. Here he continues to push the envelope in client service, working with decision makers on merger and acquisition activities, capital structuring and financing, purchase and divesture deals, due diligence processes, risk management and organizational management advisory.
Our Service Provider Partners
The Innovation Mill has engaged and partnered with an array of service providers that align and support our mandate to help start and accelerate the growth of innovative companies. Each service provider partner provides two to six hours of pro-bono support to our clients to help you resolve challenges or address exciting opportunities. Beyond the allotted pro-bono allocation, our service providers will work with you as appropriate to define the next steps. Should additional support be required, our partners will offer their services at a discounted rate recognizing that starting a business is hard and every dollar spent is important.
Freelandt Caldwell Reilly is a leader in tax, audit, consulting, valuation, SR+ED services, among others.
DiBrina Sure Group offers a list of wealth transfer services for private clients as well as employee benefit plans for businesses.
Norton Rose Fulbright is one of the world's pre-eminent legal firms focusing on intellectual property and corporate law.