Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic, the East Coast component of the new countrywide innovation accelerator, has named its roster of mentors, which includes such national business leaders as John Risley and Ken Rowe.

Offered in conjunction with Dalhousie University, CDL-Atlantic’s first cohort will begin in December under the leadership of Jesse Rodgers, the chief executive of Volta Labs in Halifax and one of the founders of the original CDL at University of Toronto.

The first group will be a general intake of early-stage startups from various sectors, though the Halifax-based unit will develop a specialty for nurturing companies in ocean tech, cleantech and agritech.

The CDL starts each cohort with a few dozen teams, who attend a one- or two-day mentoring session to receive a set of milestones from mentors. They’re then sent away to work on these tasks. When the cohort convenes again about two months later, teams who missed their milestones are asked to leave. CDL repeats the process several times, so each cohort ends up with a core of graduates.

“This is a tremendous effort to help increase the regional prosperity of Atlantic Canada,” IMP Group founder and executive chairman Ken Rowe said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to mentoring and sharing my experiences with early-stage, high-potential companies.”

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The 24 mentors — some of whom come from outside the region — are divided into two groups, fellows and associates, with the fellows making a larger commitment in terms of mentoring and investing. A spokesman said the fellows are not required to invest in the companies but often end up doing so. The mentors are:


• John Risley, president, Clearwater Fine Foods, serial entrepreneur

• Kenneth Rowe, founder and executive chairman, IMP Group International Inc.

• Rob Steele, president and CEO, Newcap Broadcasting Ltd.

• Rob Sobey, former CEO and president, Lawton’s Drug Stores Ltd.

• Jevon MacDonald, co-founder and CEO, Manifold & GoInstant

• Wade Dawe, CEO, Numus Financial Inc.

• Mark Dobbin, president, Killick Capital Inc.

• George Armoyan, executive chairman, Clarke Inc.

• Chris Huskilson, president and CEO, Emera Inc.

• Tom Hickey, former president and CEO, HSE Integrated Ltd.


• Henry Demone, president, Demone Capital Inc.

• Mike Durland, CEO, Melancthon Capital

• Jeff Grammar, partner, Rho

• Patrick Hankinson, co-founder and past-CEO, Compilr

• Jim Hanlon, CEO, Institute for Ocean Research

• Andrew Harrison, strategic business development lead, Verily Life Sciences at Google

• Patrick Keefe, general partner, Build Ventures

• Justin Manley, managing director, Just Innovation

• Robert Orr, CEO and managing director, Cuna del Mar

• Brice Scheschuk, co-founder and past CEO, Wind Mobile, CEO Globalive Capital Inc.

• Annette Verschuren, chair and CEO, NRStor Inc.

• Mark Wallace, president and CEO, MedGate

• Julia Dexter, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Squiggle Park

•Amy Regan, CEO, Skinfix Inc.

What’s interesting about the list is the mixture of those who have been active and visible in backing Atlantic Canadian tech startups — e.g. Risley, MacDonald and Dobbin — with those who are known more for their work in traditional businesses. The CDL could end up luring a new host of investors into the startup space.

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CDL-Atlantic also unveiled members of its team. These include entrepreneur Gillian McCrae, who has joined as venture manager. She and Melody Pardoe, chief operating officer of Volta, are collaborating to ensure the inclusion of mentorship and investment from successful women entrepreneurs.

“Gender diversity amongst investors and entrepreneurs is a core value of CDL-Atlantic,” said McCrae in a statement. “We are looking forward to creating additional support for female entrepreneurs across Atlantic Canada.”

CDL-Atlantic aims to be a regional initiative, and Dalhousie is in discussions to partner with the University of New Brunswick and other Atlantic universities to open its CDL course to their students.

“I’m proud to be part of launching this program in Atlantic Canada,” said Risley. “It will bring a new collaborative approach to growth and prosperity for our region, one that will set up our innovation-driven technology companies to emerge as world leaders.”