Our Team

Nextfor is an industry-led ecosystem of intentional collaborations. Together we create and accelerate new technologies for Ontario’s bio-economy.

Two people presenting with several people sitting at round tables
Chris Walton

Chris Walton


Chris Walton is the CEO for the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE); Chris is a management professional with over 20 years of experience specializing in government relations, strategic planning, sustainability planning & project development, with a focus in the forest products & bio-economy sectors.

Prior to joining CRIBE, Chris was the President & Principal Consultant for a Thunder Bay based boutique management consulting company that specialized strategic planning, government relations & organizational planning and prior to that he was responsible for the environment and energy portfolio for a large integrated pulp & paper facility.

Sarah Benčić

Sarah Benčić

Program & GIS Innovation Coordinator

Sarah Benčić is a multidisciplinary GIS & Environmental professional with a great eye for cartography, design, & compelling analysis. She joined CRIBE after completing an undergraduate in Environmental & Biological Sciences, & a post-graduate in GIS Cartographic studies. With years of experience in the Silviculture, Forestry, and Energy sectors she’s a well rounded interdisciplinary critical thinker with a passion for creating user friendly cartographic products.

Sarah loves the Thunder Bay region and is very excited to see positive change & growth in the space of bio-economy; while supporting the existing forest industry members. She loves working with our Nextfor partners to configure new tools & datasets to steer our pursuit of geospatial decision-making with our partners in Ontario & around the world.

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Nicola McFadden

Content Creator

Nicola is a materials engineering graduate (Queen’s University ’15 & University of Toronto ’18) with a diploma in interactive media (Durham College ’22). She has a unique understanding of both forest-based materials and graphic design principles that help CRIBE communicate their initiatives effectively. Nicola is excited to continue using this diverse skillset to promote Ontario as a leader in innovative, forest-based solutions.

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Advait Shanker

Policy Analyst Intern

Advait is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Mississauga, completing his B.A. with a specialist in Economics and Political Science and minor in French in June 2023. Over his university years, Advait worked in the Environmental Governance Lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and at the Centre For Global Health Security & Diplomacy as a policy analyst intern.

As CRIBE’s Policy Analyst Intern, Advait is excited to learn about the global state of the bioeconomy through benchmarking legislations relating to sustainable building materials, innovation parks and smart specialization and preparing case studies of successful innovation policy, with the goal of providing actionable recommendations to spur the growth of Ontario’s bioeconomy. 

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