Next Great Big Ideas Blog/From Apple to Agritech: Unveiling the Impact of Dave Smardon's Early Career

From Apple to Agritech: Unveiling the Impact of Dave Smardon's Early Career

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

From humble beginnings as a software engineer to the President and CEO of Canada's food and agritech engine, we speak with Dave Smardon about his journey from Apple to agritech, and leading BioEnterprise in Guelph, Ontario.

"We operate not just like ten provinces, but like 20 different regions. If you go and look in Brazil or Chile or the UK or France, they operate with a cohesive ecosystem that is constantly in connection with each other. They share information, they share resources to the betterment of the companies that have those innovations, and therefore, they're able to get those innovations to the marketplace more quickly than we can. So, we said we got to change this.”

On this episode, we sit down with Dave Smardon, CEO of BioEnterprise, to discuss his early career in the insurance industry, his time at Apple Canada, and the path he followed to become one of the leaders in Canada's agritech sector. ​

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Episode Outline:

[00:00 – 01:55] Introduction.
[01:56 – 05:37] Dave Smardon’s early life.
[05:38 – 10:40] Working as a radio station host for University of Toronto.
[10:41 – 16:28] Early career and working for Apple Computers.
[16:29 -18:52] Venture capital and founding several successful startups.

“The passion and the excitement came from just looking at that opportunity and saying, we can be successful here. We can make something out of this.”

[18:53 – 24:18] Entry into agriculture and turning tech accelerators on their head.
[24:19 –27:05] What is AgriTech?

“You look at taking the ethanol from corn and using that for fuel with aircraft. So very quickly you move from the traditional agricultural farm to supermarket, and you end up working in areas of life sciences and energy, biomaterials and so on.”

[33:04 – 36:08] Bridging the gap between university innovation and commercialization.
[27:06 – 33:03] Supporting innovation in Canadian agriculture by building tech ecosystems.

“...universities are really interested in doing the research and writing the paper and then moving on to the next project. So when it comes to saying, okay, now what happens? ... Often it just sits on the table.”

[47:18 – 54:17] The impact of Apple Computers.
​[42:15 –47:14] Artificial Intelligence and automation in AgriTech.
[37:33 – 42:14] Opportunities for the next generation to change food systems.

“You start to look at something that may, to the normal person, be mundane, and you say what if you did this? Couldn't this be used over here? You're designing it for agriculture, but maybe it belongs in the pharmaceutical industry...”

[55:42 – 56:32] Dave Smardon’s Next Great Big Idea.

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Join us as Jim Wilson speaks with leaders, innovators and disruptors in the Canadian life sciences.

​Hear about their journeys, their wins and losses, and what they have learned along the way.

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