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AVS Staff

Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd (AVS) is accountable for the delivery of specialist intellectual property protection, commercialisation and collaboration services - by providing an objective, commercial portal to deliver to the marketplace the novel IP assets and scientific capabilities of the Agriculture Victoria Research branch (AVR) of the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR).

The AVS executive and operational structure recognises the commonality of goals between AVS and DPJR.  The Company aims to provide a seamless interface with private sector collaborators and technology licensees to deliver an effective route-to-impact for the novel research and technology innovations of AVR.

The employees of AVS responsible for enabling and delivering the Company's Strategy Objectives are as follows:

Mr David Liesegang

Chief Executive Officer
B Bus (Marketing), GAICD

Appointed in November 2015, David leads the AVS company comprising 16 professional and support staff, previous to which he performed as the AVS Chief Operating Officer and as Director of the Technology Commercialisation Branch of the State of Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

He is responsible for ensuring AVS provides a unique and valuable entity structure that delivers a streamlined interface between the Department and the private sector, to maximise the adoption of the world-leading research outputs and associated IP assets of AVR for helping to improve the productivity and competitiveness of Victorian farmers.

Dr Denise Hodge

Chief Operating Officer
BSc (Hons), PhD, MIP

Denise was appointed Chief Operating Officer in June 2018.

Denise is responsible for leading the Company’s operations team of specialist commercialisation and intellectual property professionals in delivering effective IP protection, management and commercialisation of AVR-created technologies to maximise their adoption by industry and deliver economic benefits to Victoria.

Denise brings a variety of experience in commercialisation, licensing, Intellectual property strategy and protection, business development and intellectual property law to the role of AVS' COO. As Director, Commercial Operations at QUT bluebox, Queensland University of Technology’s innovation, venture and investment company, and a registered patent and trademarks attorney, Denise led all commercial operations, whilst supervising a team of Commercial and IP professionals.   In her most recent role, Denise managed the Business Development team within the Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Physics as part of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

Martin Anderson

Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary

Martin  was appointed Acting Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary in October 2019.

Martin is responsible for the Company financial planning and management, which includes financial strategy development, budget preparation, monitoring and performance reporting, financial systems, human resources, and information technology. As Company Secretary, Martin is responsible for governance, risk management and corporate compliance frameworks and procedures and for providing board secretariat services to AVS and subsidiary entity Phytogene Pty Ltd.

Martin is a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries. Martin has held senior finance roles in Australia, the United Kingdom and Africa in Oil and Gas, Engineering and ICT. Prior to his appointment Martin was the interim CFO for Murray Irrigation Ltd and the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

Andrew Suddick

Senior Legal and Contracts Manager

Andrew was appointed Senior Legal and Contracts Manager in November 2019.

Andrew is responsible for providing legal and contract management advice across the AVS business including advice on investment projects, research projects, commercialisation activities and intellectual property management.

Andrew was admitted as a solicitor in England in 1990 and in Victoria in 1998. He has extensive experience in private practice in England and Australia and in the public sector having most recently been General Counsel at the Victorian Government Solicitors Office.

Dr Ernesto Vargas

Senior Commercialisation Manager

Ernesto was appointed as a Senior Commercialisation Manager, in September 2015.

He is responsible for the commercialisation of AVS' IP assets and managing AVS investment projects.

Ernesto has experience in IP commercialisation and early stage investments. He worked at University of Melbourne Commercial Ltd (UoMC), where he was responsible for managing the protection and development of IP across a range of technologies (e.g. biotechnology, biomaterials and medical devices), and for managing valuations, marketing and IP licence negotiations. Ernesto also worked at Trans-Tasman Commercialisation Fund Pty Ltd, valuing investments in early stage technologies.

Andrew Grace

Senior Commercialisation Manager
B App Sc (Agriculture), MBT, GAICD

Andrew has been appointed as a Senior Commercialisation Manager for over 10 years. He is responsible for managing AVS investment projects and for the commercialisation of AVS’ intellectual property assets through a range of the plant-based licences including barley, canola, lentils, field peas, pears and pasture seeds. Andrew is also the AVS contact for many of the contract agreements undertaken by Agriculture Victoria scientists for industry and commercial entities.

Jane Banovac

Senior Commercialisation Manager
BSc, Hons

Jane was appointed  in September 2008  and is a Senior Commercialisation Manager.

Jane is responsible for the commercialisation of Agriculture Victoria created intellectual property and the ongoing management of commercially-licensed intellectual property assets including plant-based licences for Cereals, Chickpeas, Potatoes, Strawberries and Leptospermum. Jane also assists with agreement and IP aspects of AVR contract R&D and Plant Breeding projects and has developed a broad range of experience in plant research and agribusiness.

Dr Rachel Stevenson

Senior Intellectual Property Manager
BSc, MSc (Hons), PhD, MIPL

Rachel was appointed in June 2018 and is Senior Intellectual Property (IP) Manager.

Rachel manages the AVS' IP portfolio including patents, Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR) and trademark registrations. She is an experienced biotechnology patent attorney who has worked with a range of research institutes and corporate clients.

Rachel has significant agricultural industry experience beginning her research career in New Zealand working for both DairyNZ and the Meat Research Institute (MIRINZ). She completed her PhD in the Veterinary Science field at Melbourne University and has extensive experience managing client portfolios directed to transgenic plants (in particular the development of transgenic plant crops with increased drought tolerance), the biocontrol of crop disease and veterinary medicine.

Dr Kemperly Dynon

Commercialisation Manager

Kemperly joined AVS in June 2019 and was appointed AVS’ Commercialisation Manager in October 2020.

Kemperly is responsible for providing critical expertise in technology valuation modelling, commercialisation, IP protection and commercial R&D collaborations.

Having completed her PhD in Veterinary Science (Veterinary Virology) at The University of Melbourne, her MBA at La Trobe University and worked in the gene technology space managing contracts relating to OGTR regulation in plants, animals and microorganisms, Kemperly brings significant knowledge and experience to AVS in research, analysis and evaluations in current and future markets for AVS technology commercialisation.

Michelle Xu

Commercialisation Manager
B Eng, Master of Food Science, MBA

Michelle was appointed in February 2021. Michelle provides project management and portfolio decision-making support for the AVS investments.  Michelle also provides business and market intelligence, project analysis and advice for AVR research outputs and AVS assessment of technologies and route to impact strategies.

Michelle has more than 10 years’ experience as a research food scientist and more than 5 years in business development, marketing strategy and project management, working with local and international companies in the Agriculture & Food sector. She is a co-founder of a start-up, who is developing and marketing  AI based business efficiency solutions.  She is also an active mentor in pre-accelerators helping participants to plan and execute technology commercialisation.

Callum Herron

Commercialisation Analyst
B Ag Sc, B Bus (Economics)

Callum was appointed AVS Commercialisation Analyst in August 2020.

Callum provides research, analysis and commercial evaluation expertise to support AVS’ provision of agricultural technology value modelling for AVS IP licence agreements and investment projects.

Callum has previous experience in the private sector where he supported commercial product research and development through field trials and data analysis for the benefit of Australian pasture, cropping and turf industries.

Rae Bacon-Rowe

Intellectual Property Officer

Rae was appointed in December 2019 and is AVS’ Intellectual Property Officer.

Rae assists the Senior Intellectual Property (IP) Manager with the management of AVS' IP portfolio including patents, Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR) and trademark registrations, including supporting the design and delivery of IP administrative processes and systems, assisting the entire AVS team in managing and maintaining IP protection, obligations and general administrative and project tasks relating to AVS’ IP portfolio operations.

Jasmine Maguire

Contracts Administrator

Jasmine was appointed Contracts Administrator in October 2016.

Jasmine is responsible for supporting the design and delivery of AVS’ contract  administrative processes and systems, as well as providing general administrative support to AVS' commercial operations, clients and stakeholders.

Helen Liu

Senior Accountant
B Com (Acc), CPA

Helen was appointed in January 2012 and is AVS' Senior Accountant.

Helen is responsible for  financial and management reporting for the Board, Committees and DJPR-AVR. Helen also assists the Chief Financial Officer with financial planning, financial management and risk management. She also has extensive and broad experience in statutory compliances, consolidated financial reports and financial planning.

Gloria Utai

AVS Corporate Officer

Gloria was appointed in May 2018 and is AVS' Corporate Officer.

Gloria provides executive and corporate project support to the AVS Executive, including the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary.

Rosanna Mastrolorito

Finance & Payroll Officer
Cert Accounting

Rosanna was appointed in April 2008 and is AVS' Finance and Payroll Officer.

Rosanna assists the Senior Accountant to deliver AVS financial reports and provides general office support services, including accounts payable/receivable records management and payroll.