Leadership & Expertise

EMMAC’s board and management team comprise of seasoned industry executives and consultants

Every member brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experience of European licensing arrangements, establishing supply chains, processing and distribution of medical cannabis and related products, advancing hi-tech R&D and life science projects, branding and distribution.

Meet the Board

Lorne Abony - Chairman of the Board

Lorna AbonyLorne Abony is a well-known entrepreneur whose many successful ventures include the 2001 co-founding of FUN Technologies (“FUN”), an AIM and Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) listed company. In 2004 as CEO of FUN, Mr. Abony became the youngest CEO of a listed company on the TSX, and he sold FUN in 2006 to Liberty Media for Cdn$484 million.

Mr. Abony is the former CEO and co-founder of NuuVera Corp., a Canadian cannabis company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. NuuVera was sold to Aphria in 2018 for Cdn $826 million. Prior to NuuVera, Mr. Abony was CEO of Mood Media Corporation (Mood), the world’s largest in-store media company. As CEO, Mr. Abony oversaw a public company listed on both the Toronto and London Stock Exchanges. Under his leadership Mood grew to offices in 47 countries, over 3,300 employees and annual revenue in excess of $730 million. Mr. Abony has significant capital markets experience having raised over $1.4 billion through the public and private debt and equity markets.

Mr. Abony’s current roles are focused specifically on the wellness and medical cannabis markets. He currently serves as the Executive Chairman of Socati the world’s largest mass scale CBD production company.

Mr. Abony was born and raised in Toronto. He received his undergraduate degree from McGill University and after graduating from the University of Windsor law school in 1994 with an LL.B and the University of Detroit Mercy with a J.D. (Juris Doctor), he practiced corporate and securities law at a large Toronto law firm. Mr. Abony subsequently earned his MBA from Columbia Business School and embarked upon his successful and continuing entrepreneurial career. He was also featured on the successful CBS television series “Undercover Boss”.

Antonio Costanzo - Chief Executive Officer

Antonio CostanzoAntonio Costanzo is an experienced senior executive with a successful track record in public and private companies and in innovative, complex and highly regulated industries. Before co-founding EMMAC, he was instrumental in the successful development of Nuuvera, a Canadian publicly listed cannabis company that was acquired by Aphria, in March 2018. He led the company’s development in Europe, Africa and South America.

Prior to focusing on the cannabis industry, he was Head of Public Policy and Government Relations at Uber in the key European markets. He formerly spent 10 years in the online gaming industry, at bwin, as Director of International Development and Regulatory Affairs, developing the group’s activities across Europe.

He served for 5 years as vice-Chairman and board Director at ESSA – Sport Betting Integrity. He started his career in the media industry, at Eurosport, where he la unched and managed the Italian market. Fluent in 4 languages, he has developed an extensive political and business network across Europe.

Tom Rooke - Chief Operating Officer

Tom RookeAn experienced senior executive in the Global FMCG sector with exposure across a range of finance and general managerial competencies, both in FTSE 10 Corporate Head Office and more operationally dynamic environments.

Prior to joining EMMAC he was Finance Director of the Northern Europe Area at British American Tobacco operating in complex regulatory and commercial environments. The business unit spanned 11 markets and included Pharmaceutical and Next Generation Product operations, as well as traditional tobacco businesses.

Prior to British American Tobacco, he spent 6 years at PriceWaterhouseCoopers initially as an auditor before moving into the M&A and Transactions Finance competencies. He is a Qualified Chartered Account.

Thomas Ellen - Chief Financial Officer

Thomas EllenThomas Ellen is a dynamic and versatile finance director with 15 years of experience in senior finance and business roles in large blue-chip companies and with a specialisation in “develop new”, business change and M&A roles.

Before joining EMMAC, Tom spent 5 years a Finance Director at James Fisher Plc, reporting directly to the main board of a FTSE 250 marine services company and responsible for the strategic direction and financial management of a diversified portfolio of companies within the group. Prior to this Tom worked for Royal Dutch Shell for 10 years, in a variety of roles including leading the development of a pioneering new LNG into transport business in Europe and as finance lead on a long-term divestment and footprint reduction program for downstream businesses in Latin America. Tom is a qualified chartered accountant, he trained with KPMG working in both their audit and transaction services department.

Ed McDermott - Managing Director, UK

Ed McDermottEd McDermott is an experienced capital markets professional with 15 years’ expertise in the management and financing of growth companies internationally.

He has been pivotal in raising over £500m in equity for growth companies and is currently a Director of AIM quoted FastForward Innovations Ltd, a VC that has a track record of successful investment in the medical cannabis sector. He is also Non-Executive Chairman of Emmerson Plc, a Moroccan Potash development company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Ed has been actively involved in the medical cannabis promotion and discussion with UK and European policy makers and advocacy groups.

Barbara Pacchetti - Chief Scientific Officer

Barbara PachettiBarbara Pacchetti is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical space in Europe and globally. Her length of industry experience has enabled her to develop expertise and leadership in areas such as Life Science research, Innovation and R&D, Process technology, intellectual property and project management researching natural compounds and bioactives.

She has been responsible for scientific communication, including scientific publications, poster presentations, papers and lectures at congresses and symposiums and medical-marketing activities to support products development and sales.

She is the author or co-author of more than 60 scientific publications in the field of pharmaceutical science, of which 10 in the peer-reviews high impact-factor scientific journals. She is a named inventor on about 15 patents and patent applications in the field of pharmaceutical science.

Barbara holds a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology from University of Milan (1993) and in Pharmaceutical Sciences (1995), completed by post graduate Specialisation courses, Industrial Development (2001), Phototherapy (2003), Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP, 2008), Health & Pharma Marketing (2013).

In the carrier job roles, she oversees innovation, research and development activities, life science activities (pharmacological, pre-clinical and clinical trials) and intellectual property.

Her high level of professional specialisation and expertise has been recognised through collaboration with scientific committee and institutional referee in European and Italian Universities and Research Centres.

Throughout her career, she has held various leadership roles and senior positions in leading European Companies committed to research and commercialisation of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals active ingredients and finished products. In over twenty years in the pharmaceutical and nutritional fields, she has built a broad based successful experience into the exploration and the monitoring of new trends related to wellness and illness treatment through natural bioactives.

Meet the Leadership Team

Dr Mikael Sodergren - Research Director

Mikael SodergrenDr Mikael Sodergren is an academic clinician based at Imperial College London. His research interests include clinical translation of innovative technology, therapeutics and techniques in medicine, specialising in complex liver, pancreas and keyhole surgery. He serves on the editorial board for two prestigious medical journals and regularly reviews scientific research on behalf of about 50 different editorial teams.

He has authored over 90 peer reviewed journal publications and regularly presents his work at international forums. The high quality of research has been recognised in the mainstream media with appearances on BBC Radio 4 “Inside Health” and in the Daily Mail. Together with a group of NHS doctors he founded Sapphire Medical Clinics – a second opinion service for doctors to evaluate the appropriateness of medical cannabis for a range of clinical conditions.

Larushka Mellor - Group Head of Route to Market

Larushka MellorLarushka Mellor has over twenty years experience within the Life Science Sector within large blue-chip and small start-up global pharmaceutical and biotech companies, global strategic consultancy and industry trade associations.

Larushka has spent the last 15 years in leadership roles across external affairs and policy, market access and pricing and commercialisation of innovative medical interventions. These include pharmaceuticals, advanced therapy medical products (ATMPs), immunotherapy, companion diagnostics, medical devices and digital healthcare across oncology, inflammatory diseases, rare diseases, diabetes and endocrinology, cardiovascular disease and alcohol and drug dependency.
Before joining EMMAC, Larushka has recently lead consultancy projects on Brexit related global operational changes, due diligence, indication value assessments and evidence requirements for early stage clinical programmes.

Larushka brings specific expertise across the complex medical innovation pathway and collaboration with governments, regulatory and health technology agencies and healthcare organisations in developing health policy, life science strategies and new routes to market and data requirements for highly specialised products with high clinical and patient demand.

Larushka holds a BSc (hons) degree in Neuroscience from Sheffield University (1997), a CIM Professional Marketing Diploma from Oxford College of Marketing (2012) and ABPI qualified certification in the promotion of prescription medicines (1998).

François-Xavier Nottin - Managing Director France/Benelux

Francois Xavier NottinFrançois-Xavier Nottin is a senior marketing executive with extensive experience in digital P&L management. Specialising in high impact marketing strategies, Francois-Xavier is data-driven and brand oriented, a champion of progressive marketing concepts with a proven track record managing digital business transformation, generating revenue growth, increasing market share, and delivering key performance metrics across a number of industries.

Francois-Xavier started his career with Carat-Interactive in Paris, before time as European Marketing Director for AOL, General Manager for BWIN in France & Belgium, and most recently as Sports Betting Director for FDJ in Paris.

Florian Witt - Managing Director Germany/Nordics

Florian WittFlorian Witt is an experienced senior management consultant working with established companies to manage change and growth as are sult of technology advancements (with a particular focus on the impact of digital change, marketing and branding).

After starting his career in the fashion and event industry Florian established his own agency and has worked with leading companies in Germany including o2, Telefonica, Roland Berger, CXO Network and Autonubil System GmbH, and more recently with leading North American companies focused on the medical cannabis market in Germany. Florian has been engaged as Managing Director of EMMAC’s German operations and will provide his services full-time to EMMAC on an exclusive basis.

Victor Mathys - Managing Director, Switzerland and CBD

Victor MathysAfter completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Switzerland in 2010, with focus on entrepreneurship & finance, Victor worked in sales & marketing, operations, business & strategic development and consulting for a number of household brands.

Victor founded Food Addict SARL in early 2017, a Switzerland based wellness and lifestyle company manufacturing and supplying Hemp based products in the supplements, health, beauty, lifestyle and wellness sectors under the brand “Blossom”. The Blossom products are currently available in Switzerland and France, with key distributor agreements under negotiation for a wider launch through Europe.

Javier Soto - Managing Director Spain

Javier SotoJavier is a senior Pharma executive and entrepreneur with more than 20 years experience in building and running successful companies.

The holder of a PHD in Chemistry from the University of Madrid, Javier was also an Associate Professor of organic chemistry at the University of Alicante.

He co-founded and currently manages Medalchemy, a GMP-certified manufacturer of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

Hannah Du Beke - Head of Communications & Brand

Hannah Du Beke is a proven business leader with a track record of delivering business growth through corporate positioning and market communication strategies worldwide. For the past 20 years Hannah has driven high impact, global marketing and corporate communication programmes across a broad range of industries, including, telecommunications, technology, pharmaceutical and not for profit organisations.

Ricardo Silva - Managing Director Portugal

Ricardo SilvaExperienced Entrepreneur and Manager over the last 20+ years. Experienced in launching projects and ventures from early stage to mature operations, especially in the digital b2c Channel. Ricardo started his career by founding his own digital marketing agency, worked for bwin in several roles from Country management, to Global head of CRM, was managing director of MPG, Portugal’s leading media agency, and latter founded bet.pt the leading Portuguese online gambling operator.

Alex Neves - Operations Director, Wellness and CBD

Alex NevesAlex Neves is an experienced operations professional and successful entrepreneur with 11 years experience in FMCG and food and beverages. After co-founding UK-based healthy food business Scratch Meals Ltd in London in 2009, Alex led the operational development of the business as it launched five chilled food brands. He managed the production and distribution of these product ranges throughout the UK and internationally. In 2016 Alex managed the successful setting up of the business’s UK factory and led the transition of the business from an outsourced model to an in-house production model.