People on the move: Nick Noreau taking Spartan’s DNA-testing innovation global


Nick Noreau is on a mission to make Spartan Bioscience a household name in DNA testing.

Despite being around for more than a decade, the Nepean-based biotech firm still refers to itself as a startup. Noreau, a marketing veteran who’s spent more than 15 years in the medical technology sector, says it’s time for Spartan to take the next step in its evolution.

“The company’s really been primarily an R&D company and a pre-commercialization company for 13 years,” says Noreau, 46, who joined Spartan in March as its chief revenue officer. His main role will be to help Spartan break into new global markets.

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“I think that this is a perfect time for me to come in here and help put in process and structure and a sales team so that this company can shift from being an R&D company to a fully commercialized company,” he says.

The Ottawa venture’s marquee product, the Spartan Cube, is a box-shaped device about the size of a coffee cup. The company says it is capable of collecting and analyzing human DNA samples in about half an hour, compared with wait times of days or weeks for traditional tests. It’s being used in Canada and other countries in fields such as Alzheimer’s research.

Health Canada approved the Spartan Cube in 2014. Originally, most of Spartan’s customers were hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

In the past couple of years, however, the company has gradually diversified its client base to include real estate firms, hotel chains and other businesses that use the device to quickly detect the presence of bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease ​– a potentially deadly respiratory illness that can spread rapidly through heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

While the firm says it now has “several hundred customers,” 70 per cent of its workforce is engaged in research and development, with only a handful of employees devoted to sales and marketing.

Noreau says that will soon change.

His top priorities are building Spartan’s sales team as well as seeking other strategic sales partners and combing for new markets. He sees a day in the not-too-distant future when the Spartan Cube will be sold for home use, allowing individuals to test their own DNA for diseases and drug interactions.

“I truly do believe that the Spartan Cube and the technology that we’re bringing forward here will revolutionize medicine.”

“There’s a huge move towards personalized medicine and telemedicine and precision medicine,” Noreau says. “I know that DNA (testing) is really going to be at the core of that. I truly do believe that the Spartan Cube and the technology that we’re bringing forward here will revolutionize medicine. I feel super excited and privileged to be here.”

Noreau was previously in charge of sales at M&A strategy at Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications, which specializes in voice-recognition software. The University of Ottawa alumnus commuted from his home in Kanata, racking up hundreds of thousands of air miles every year as he jetted back and force to Nuance’s head office and client meetings around the world.

Tired of the gruelling travel schedule and itching for a change, Noreau finally got his opportunity.

Even though he lived just a five-minute drive from Spartan’s headquarters, he’d never heard of the company until Ottawa entrepreneur Aydin Mirzaee introduced him to co-founder and CEO Paul Lem at an event a few months ago.

Noreau says he was “blown away” after hearing the firm’s story.

“It’s a rare breed of person who’s a doctor and an entrepreneur and a great guy,” he says of Lem. “That combination was just an instant attraction for me.”

It didn’t take long before Noreau was on the Spartan payroll. He’s still pinching himself.

“You can’t shake a stick in here without hitting someone who has a PhD or is a scientist who has their master’s or is an MD,” he says with a touch of awe. “It’s really an incredible group of people. I feel like this job was literally just designed for me.”

People on the move

Paul Cooper has joined the ADGA Group as program manager, defence. Cooper is leading a team of more than 200 employees, contractors and consultants serving clients in the defence industry. A graduate of Royal Military College, Cooper served in the Canadian Forces in the communications and electronics branch. During his time in the Forces, Cooper worked with NATO, most recently as chief analyst of the Joint Warfare Centre.

Chris Lalande has joined Hill+Knowlton Strategies Ottawa as senior account director. Lalande has worked and volunteered in politics for more than three decades and most recently served as chief of staff to a member of Parliament. Prior to that, he spent close to 10 years working for two senior ministers in the government of Nunavut.

Heather Norris is the new president and CEO of the Ottawa Network for Education. Norris was previously CEO of Northumberland United Way and brings 20 years of experience in the health-care and non-profit sectors serving in operations management, fundraising, government relations, human resources and volunteer management, board governance and public speaking roles.

Quarterhill has appointed John Gillberry as chair of its board of directors. Gillberry has been on the Quarterhill board since May 2005. He is an accomplished senior technology executive and the founder and president of Bayfield Capital Group, a corporate finance advisory firm. He previously served as CEO of Coreworx and GuestLogix and was the chief financial officer of eSentire Inc.

Richard Nottenburg has joined the board of Edgewater Wireless Systems. He is currently chairman of Q-Sensi Corp. and serves on the boards of directors of Verint Systems and Sequans Communications SA. Previously, he was president and CEO of Sonus Networks (now Ribbon Communications) and held various senior executive roles at Motorola.

Hats off

Altis.excelHR, Burnbrae Farms, Canarm, CowaterSogema, Daltco Electric, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets, Donna Cona, JED Express, J.L. Richards and Associates, Kriska Transportation Group, Manderley Turf Products, MDS Aero Support, Modern Niagara, M. Sullivan and Son, Nanometrics, Newterra, Groupe Raymond, Payment Source, Regional Group, Rush Truck Centres of Canada and Wills Transfer have been named to Canada’s Best Managed Companies list for 2019. Now in its 26th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices.

Giatec Scientific’s iCOR, a wireless device for evaluating the health of reinforced concrete structures, was presented the 2019 Corrosion Innovation Award by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. Winning innovations must show the potential for a significant positive impact in corrosion control.

BluWave-ai has been recognized by Startup Energy Transition as a top 100 finalist in the Intelligent Grids category, the only North American company to receive the designation.

The Glebe BIA received three awards at the 2019 BIA National Conference Awards. In the Marketing + Communications Large category, the BIA was awarded the top prize for its Get-it-in-the-Glebe marketing campaign. It was also recognized in the Special Events and Promotions category for the latest edition of its Glebe Spree contest, while its Canadian Eats promotion received the award for Special Events + Promotions – Small category.

Two Men and a Truck’s Ottawa franchise owners Paul Bimm and Lyne Vincent were awarded the Canadian Franchise Association’s 2019 Franchisee of the Year Gold Award in the non-traditional franchise category.

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