supporting leadership ai machine learning story

Supporting leadership in AI and machine learning


Jessica Jones is an energetic, forward-thinking foodie. She is also the VP of Plant Science & Innovation at AVA Technologies, a Vancouver-based company that develops a smart, AI-powered indoor garden called AVA Byte.

“We live in a world where AI takes the guesswork and hassle out of growing amazing food without herbicides, pesticides and GMOs,” says Jessica. “This merger between technology and agriculture makes it possible for all of us to play a part in food security and sustainability by growing our own healthy food.”

Working in a “technology meets plant science” company required Jessica to augment her knowledge of agriculture with computer science. In July 2021, she applied for the Athena Digital Leaders program and was accepted into the three-month SFU Data Fellowship course.

One of the most exciting draws for Jessica was the practicality of the program. She learned and was quickly able to apply her new knowledge in her daily work. This course design supported the acceleration of industry-led innovation projects and collaboration amongst technology and business mentors, academia, researchers and peers.

Jessica’s project focused on using data science and machine learning to:

  • Proactively spot popular pest attacks
  • Confirm whether a seed successfully germinated
  • Identify any plant issues such as yellowing leaves or tip burn

The Athena Digital Leaders program is led by AInBC. Since launching the program in July 2021, 22 self-identifying women and new immigrants have been accepted into the training program and 15 industry organizations have partnered to hire students for work-integrated learning placements.

jessica jones ava technologies

“The Athena Digital Leaders program has helped me to lead and succeed at AVA. It boosted my confidence to speak up and ask the right questions. It also helped me generate new ideas of how our company can leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science within the AVA Byte product. This was the perfect combination of mentorship, project management skills and foundational technical knowledge.”


VP of Plant Science & Innovation at AVA Technologies