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Bill Birgen

CEO, Soggy Food Sucks

Bill is a recent convert to the food space. In a previous life he was a system developer and annalist in the space and defense industries. Bill now uses his innovative problem solving experience to launch products focused on food delivery; specifically food quality and security.

Mark Drucker

Mark Drucker

VP of Product and Strategy at Drinkworks

As VP of Product and Strategy at Drinkworks, Marc is responsible for driving product strategy, design and development. He plays an integral role in the company’s path to effectively define and position the product’s value to consumers. Marc joined Drinkworks with over 15 years of experience across innovation, product management and business development roles, most recently serving as AB-InBev’s Global Director where he focused on ABI’s long-term innovation portfolio, advanced technologies and external partnerships.

Previously, he was General Manager of Newlogic, a consulting firm for innovation, portfolio management, consumer insights and product management. At Arthur D. Little, he re-launched and led their innovation lab for customers in the medical and consumer categories.

Marc has received more than 10 patents and multiple product awards. He has contributed to outlets like BusinessWeek, Innovation Magazine and US News & World Report. He has presented on innovation topics at various industry events and to the FDA, DARPA, Department of Defense, NIH and the Office of Veteran's Affairs.
Marc studied Software and BioTech Engineering at California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, Ca.), before earning his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College (Pasadena, Ca.) and an MBA from Babson College (Wellesley, Ma.).


Hamed Faridi

Chief Science Office, McCormick

A renowned food industry leader, Dr. Faridi heads a global team of 500+ scientists responsible for thought leadership, scientific research, product development, Health & Wellness, and sustainability to support the global businesses of the world’s largest flavor company -- McCormick and Company, Inc. Dr. Faridi is the voice of science for McCormick & Company and advises the company’s CEO, and senior executives on strategic corporate initiatives such as technology investment and potential M&As and serves on several business councils.  

Under his leadership, McCormick’s R&D program has been transformed and is rated by investors and global customers as one of the most innovative in the industry. Morningstar, a respected leader in investment research, wrote, “Under Hamed Faridi, McCormick’s research labs have become the best in the industry, in our opinion.”  Bear Stearns reported “For McCormick, perhaps the most sustainable growth driver beyond even acquisition and marketing is R&D”. His science-based approach to “Flavorful Healthy Eating” is recognized as a groundbreaking platform for improving public health. His vision led to the formation of the McCormick Science Institute (MSI) in 2006 as a research-driven organization to advance scientific understanding of the potential health benefits of culinary spices and herbs. This research prompted a close partnership with USDA, HHS and the White House to help in implementation of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. He was also featured on the cover of the December 2015 Packaging World magazine, an issue which recognizes McCormick as one of the most innovative Packaging R&D organizations in the industry.


In 2013, in partnership with IBM, he initiated the creation of an AI platform for food and flavor product development with the potential to change the course of the industry and enhance the universal eating experience of consumers around the world by tapping in on over 40 years of sensory, culinary, chemistry and scientific data collected by McCormick R&D scientists in 14 countries.


He has published six books and dozens of scientific articles in food science and technology and has been a guest lecturer at conferences and research institutions in 22 countries. He has also served on several boards of professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Europe. He was elected and served as president of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACCI) and the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA).

In addition, he has served on Advisory Councils of food science departments for four major universities. He is the recipient of numerous awards and was honored as a Fellow by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in 2010 and the AACCI in 2011.  He is the recipient of Kansas State University 2013 Outstanding Alumni Award. In 2015, he received the Flavor Industry’s most coveted Richard L. Hall Distinguished Service Award for “his significant and lasting contributions to the flavor industry”. He received the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to “Americans in recognition for accomplishments in their field and inspired service to the nation”.  On September of 2017 he received the Ohio State University’s Harris Award for his lifetime of dedication to excellence in food science. Dr. Faridi received the Upwardly Global 2017 Outstanding Leadership Award that recognizes individuals who have advanced the promise of an interdependent world and global economy by championing immigrants and refugees.

 Dr. Faridi is on the Board of Trustees at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) in Laurel, MD, and has served on the Board of Directors of the St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland (2005-12).

Prior to joining McCormick & Company in 1997, Dr. Faridi served on the faculty of Washington State University (1979-1983) and held R&D executive positions at Nabisco Food Group from 1983 to 1997 where he received several awards for innovation and business impact.   Dr. Faridi received his MS (1973) and Ph.D. (1975) both in food science from Kansas State University, and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University (1987). He is a Certified Food Scientist (CFS).




Dieter Fox

Dieter Fox

Senior Director of Robotics Research, NVIDIA

Dieter Fox is the senior director of robotics research at NVIDIA. His research is in robotics with strong connections to artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning.

He is currently on partial leave from the University of Washington, where he is a professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. At UW, he also heads the UW Robotics and State Estimation Lab. From 2009 to 2011, he was director of the Intel Research Labs Seattle. Dieter obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn, Germany.

He has published more than 200 technical papers and is the co-author of the textbook "Probabilistic Robotics." He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the AAAI, and he received several best paper awards at major robotics, AI, and computer vision conferences.

He was an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, program co-chair of the 2008 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and program chair of the 2013 Robotics: Science and Systems conference.


Victoria Spadaro Grant

CTO, Barilla

Victoria is Barilla's Chief Research Development and Quality Officer and, in addition, she is the CEO of BLU1877, the VC arm of the Barilla Group. Victoria acts also as Board Member of Team Foods.

Vision, strategy and passion about Innovation are Victoria's hallmarks. she has been recognized with numerous Global awards for Innovation and creativity and she acts as mentor of innovative food and beverages start ups around the world.

Throughout her career, she has brought to the market over $5.5 billion in product innovation and $3 billion in business transformations.

Victoria received B.S. degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science and Food Engineering, a Master in Business Administration and Ph.D. in Food Engineering. She is fluent in 4 languages and over her 30-year career she has lived in more than 10 cities around the world, making her a globally minded leader.


Stefan Kalb

Stefan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Shelf Engine. Shelf Engine uses AI to do demand forecasting and guarantees profits for grocery stores. Stefan started his career in the food industry in 2009 when founding Molly’s, a healthy and delicious grab & go company. However, after growing Molly's to over 400 retail locations across the Pacific Northwest, Stefan discovered the problems of food waste first hand. He co-founded Shelf Engine in 2016 to help grocery stores reduce waste and increase sales.

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Dr. Markus Miele

Markus Miele, born in 1968, is together with Dr Reinhard Zinkann a fourth generation Executive Director and Co-Proprietor of the Miele Group. Miele is known as the world's leading manufacturer of premium domestic appliances with a turnover of EUR 4.1 bn and 20,100 employees. He has a degree in Business Administration and engineering and, before entering the family company in Gütersloh in 1999, worked for Hella, the vehicle parts manufacturer. He is Chairman of the Entrepreneurs' Association for the Gütersloh region, Vice President of the Eastern-Westphalian Chamber of Commerce in Bielefeld and member of the supervisory board with the Ergo group of insurance companies. Markus Miele is married and has two children.

Bernardo Novick

Bernardo Novick

Bernardo Novick is the head of ZX Ventures, the global growth and innovation arm of AB InBev. Before joining ZX he was the Vice President of Client Services for Ambev and held roles in finance, operations and sales after joining the company in 2009. Novick holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Jarret Stopforth

CTO, Atomo Coffee

Jarret holds a Ph.D. in Food Science & Microbiology from Colorado State University. He has 20 plus years of experience in the food & beverage arena leading innovation, product development and quality activities. He has held senior leadership roles at Campbell Soup Company, Chobani, Soylent and most recently at Kettle&Fire. Jarret is an active collaborator and advisor on a number of new and exciting CPG startups.


Stacie Thompson

Head of brand and marketing for Ovie, Stacie is a design lover, food lover, and people lover. She and Ty host a dinner at their house every single week for 20 of their closest friends. With a degree in Environmental Design, she’s put her skills to work on brands such as Fossil, New Balance, Disney, Corona, and Head & Shoulders. And now Ovie. In 2016 she one of the recipients of Design Retail Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award.

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Andreas Wuerfel

An active intrapreneur and evangelist, Andreas Wuerfel is METRO Group Director US Strategic Partnering, with focus on international corporate innovation and business development. He also serves as CEO of Inc., the US business practice of METRO Group’s international digital hospitality and retail solutions team. Prior, Andreas held various corporate and business development positions inside Deutsche Telekom USA, the North America offices of Germany-based Deutsche Telekom AG. Previously, Andreas held several music industry management and marketing posts, including General Manager Billboard TalentNet (a Billboard Magazine partnership), General Manager at Intuition Records (building and running North American business success), as well as International A&R Manager at MCA Music Publishing (now Universal Music Publishing). Andreas lives with his husband in Brooklyn, New York.