William E. Rhodes
Former Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Development, Becton, Dickinson & Co.; Worldwide President, BD Biosciences
William (Bill) Rhodes is the president of BD Biosciences Cell Analysis, a leading supplier of flow cytometry instruments and reagents for life sciences research and cell-based clinical diagnostics. Mr. Rhodes previously served as BD’s vice president of Business Development and Strategic Investments at their corporate offices, where he had worldwide responsibility for business development activities. He also managed BD Ventures L.L.C., a corporate venture capital fund operated by BD. The fund focuses on investments in seed and early stage medical device, cell therapy and diagnostics companies.
Rhodes has more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, and has held senior business development positions in J&J and Pfizer, before joining Becton Dickinson in late 1998. From 1983 until 1993 he was the president of The William-James Co., a biomedical business consulting firm specializing in M&A activities and technology due diligence in the biotechnology industry.
He holds a Master of Science degree in International Business from Seton Hall University, and served on their faculty in the W. Paul Stillman School of Business as an adjunct professor, teaching graduate courses in the management of technological innovation and mergers and acquisitions. Rhodes also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, and is the author of 10 U.S. patents and numerous articles in the field of biomedical product development and investing.
Managing Director, Schwartz Heslin Group
Ed Heslop has more than 30 years of entrepreneurial experience in agriculture, biotech and “green tech”. He serves as managing director at Schwartz Heslin Group, where he joined in October 2011 as Senior Vice President. Ed has played a lead role in establishing many new businesses, commercializing technology, and launching new products and services from inception to sale. Most recently he was Chairman and CEO of a business he helped conceptualize in 2004, Environmental Credit Corp. (ECC), which creates and trades carbon credits. Prior to ECC, Mr. Heslop was a co-founder in 1993 and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of AnAerobics/Ecovation, an enterprise that developed and marketed innovative, organic wastewater treatment technology. Not long ago, the business was sold to Ecolab. In 1989, he co-founded and served as Director of Operations for Paracelsian, a company founded on technology licensed from Cornell University and the University of Rochester. He raised the venture capital to launch this biotech business focused on drug discovery based on detecting environmental carcinogens in water and soil. In 1992, he took the company public. Earlier in his career, for the better part of a decade, Ed owned and actively managed two dairy farm businesses. Ed is a graduate of Cornell University with a Master of Science in Production Economics and Finance, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Finance and Management. He serves as an Advisory Board Member to Cornell University’s Charles Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. In addition, he is a Founding Board Member of the Executive Council for the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell.
Wayne Merkelson, Esq.
Former Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Novartis US
Mr. Wayne Merkelson served as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Novartis Finance Corporation, the US holding for Novartis from January, 1997, and in many other executive and legal roles with Novartis and its predecessor, Sandoz, from April 1989 through January 2014. He served as Vice President at Citibank, NA from September 1987 through April 1989, and as a Tax Lawyer with Amstar Corporation from July 1978 through August 1987. Previously, he worked as an associate at the law firm, Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. He serves as a mentor at the McGovern Family Center for Ventures in the Life Sciences at Cornell University, and is a member of the American Bar Association and New York State Bar Association. Mr. Merkelson graduated from Cornell University in 1973 with an A. B. from the College of Arts & Sciences, and in 1975 with a J.D. from the Law School. He earned an LLM in Taxation from New York University in January 1978.
Managing Director, Versant Ventures
Beckie Robertson is a Managing Director specializing in early stage investing in medical devices and diagnostics at Versant. Beckie’s career encompasses 23 years of venture capital and operating experience in medical products as an engineer, entrepreneur, corporate executive and investor.
Before co-founding Versant, Beckie was a general partner at Institutional Venture Partners (IVP). From 1994-1996, Beckie served as Senior Vice President at Chiron Diagnostics, a division of Chiron Corporation, where she had responsibility for the $200 million Critical Care business unit. In addition, Beckie was Vice President of Business Development where she led numerous deals in support of Chiron Diagnostics business and technology objectives. Prior to joining Chiron, she was a co-founder and Vice President at Egis, an IVP portfolio company, and held senior management positions in operations and finance at Lifescan, a Johnson & Johnson company. During her seven-year term at Lifescan, the company grew from an early stage venture-funded company to a worldwide market leader in diabetes diagnostics.
Beckie holds a BA in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.