New board appointed to Province’s tech agency, Innovate BC
May 14, 2018
VANCOUVER – Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, has announced the membership of Innovate BC’s new board of directors, to help guide and promote tech sector growth, generating good jobs in the emerging economy, increased revenue and economic development all around British Columbia.
Ralston made the announcement at the #BCTECH Summit. Innovate BC’s board of directors is the Province’s new innovation commission, and it will review current provincial technology and innovation programs, and make recommendations on how to help grow the sector provincewide.
Alan Shaver, president and vice-chancellor of Thompson Rivers University, has been appointed chair of Innovate BC, where he will help lead the Crown agency’s delivery of programs that support innovation, entrepreneurship and business development in the tech sector.
“Alan Shaver brings a wealth of leadership experience, which, combined with his background in technology and knowledge of regional B.C., makes him an outstanding choice to lead the Innovate BC board,” said Ralston. “Each member of the board brings distinctive skills that are essential to ensuring B.C. tech entrepreneurs and businesses get the necessary help to grow and create great jobs throughout the province. I’d like to recognize and thank the former BC Innovation Council board of directors for the strategic advice and direction they have provided over the years, in particular, board chair Derek Lew.”
Shaver is joined by a diverse team of 11 directors and one ex-officio member, with backgrounds in regional economic development, research and innovation, academia and entrepreneurship. Board members bring a broad range of expertise, including life sciences, software development and applications of clean tech in B.C.’s traditional resource industries.
“Promoting innovative ideas and practices will improve the quality of life for the people of B.C., and promote sustainable economic development,” said Shaver. “This requires investment in people, our most valuable assets, and partnerships between communities, governments, industry, business, NGOs and academic institutions. I look forward to serving the people of B.C. as chair of the board of Innovate BC.”
The innovation commission is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party caucus. Recognizing its potential to boost B.C. tech, the provincial government has adopted the concept as part of its efforts to help B.C. innovators thrive and build a strong, sustainable economy for everyone.
“With a highly qualified board in place, Innovate BC is ready to help entrepreneurs take full advantage of the economic opportunities ahead,” said B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. “This key B.C. Green platform commitment was developed through consultation with tech sector leaders. I am proud that our caucus has contributed this idea to support them as they drive B.C.’s economy across all sectors, and in every region of our province.”
Innovate BC was created in March 2018 following the passing of the British Columbia Innovation Council Amendment Act, which expanded the mandate of the BC Innovation Council, and renamed it Innovate BC.
“Technology is everywhere, in every industry, and is enhancing lives in every corner of B.C. So, I am pleased to begin work with this dynamic group, which is made up of leaders from around the entire province,” said Shirley Vickers, president and CEO, Innovate BC. “I’m looking forward to leveraging their leadership and insights to help grow B.C.’s dynamic technology sector, which is powering innovation, creating jobs and growing our economy.”
In collaboration with the Innovate BC board, the B.C. government will work with industry stakeholders to review programs that support the tech and innovation sector provincewide. The Crown agency will also provide tech entrepreneurs with tools, resources and expert guidance, and support Indigenous entrepreneurship.
- Innovate BC will absorb all the programs and services currently delivered by the BC Innovation Council, in addition to expanding its mandate with a broader range of support and responsibilities.
- Innovate BC will provide a single point of contact for B.C. entrepreneurs looking for business development support at all stages of company growth — whether they are new startups, or long-established firms.
- In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.
- Innovate BC and the innovation commissioner are separate entities, but they will work together closely to ensure alignment of efforts.
Innovate BC: https://bcic.ca
B.C. innovation commissioner: https://news.gov.bc.ca/16319
#BCTECH Summit: https://bctechsummit.ca
A backgrounder follows.
Alan Shaver (Innovate BC chair), president and vice-chancellor, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) – Shaver was appointed president of TRU in 2010. He previously served as vice-president, academic and provost, at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia from 2006 to 2010, and as dean of science at McGill University from 1995 to 2005. He went to high school in Ottawa and earned a B.Sc. (Hon) in chemistry from Carleton University, and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Lesley Esford, president, Life Sciences BC – Esford received her PhD in microbiology and immunology from UBC, and has spent many years in academia, industry and government in positions supporting the growth of the life-sciences sector. She is a Kauffman Fellow, which is a Silicon Valley-based international leadership program for venture capitalists and innovators.
Michael Fergusson, CEO and founder, Ayogo – For his work as a health-tech innovator, Fergusson was Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and was recently named to the PharmaVOICE 100, a peer-nominated list of the 100 most inspiring people in life sciences. Agoyo has won many awards for its use of game psychology and social networks to help patients take control of their medical treatments.
Suzanne Gill, executive director, corporate development, Genome BC – Prior to joining Genome BC, Gill was a key member of the senior management team at the Ontario Genomics Institute. She has experience in project management through the planning and implementation of regional economic and business development projects in B.C. She also holds an MSc from UBC, and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
Joy Johnson, vice-president, research and international, Simon Fraser University (SFU) – Johnson leads SFU’s strategic research initiatives, and facilitates international opportunities. She focuses on facilitating research excellence, and helping the university respond to new opportunities. Johnson is a leader for the SFU Innovates initiative, a university-wide strategy to inspire, develop, and support impact-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.
Dave Krysko, co-founder, Club Penguin, entrepreneur-in-residence, Okanagan College – In 2005, along with two other New Horizon Production staff, Krysko co-founded Club Penguin, an online virtual world for kids. The Walt Disney Company was so impressed with Club Penguin that in 2007, it purchased the company outright for $350 million. He left the company as senior vice-president in 2010, and started Davara Enterprises to focus on developing a wide range of culture-making enterprises.
Gail Murphy, professor and vice-president of research, UBC – A leading researcher on software evolution and tools, Murphy provides extensive experience as a software developer and principal investigator of a large research group. In recognition of her research, she has received several international awards. Murphy was also elected to be a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. This fellowship is the highest academic accolade in the sciences, humanities and arts bestowed in Canada.
Peter Nunoda, president, Vancouver Community College – Prior to joining VCC in 2014, Nunoda was vice-president, academic and research, at Northern Lights College from 2011. He served as dean of the faculty of health at the University College of the North, was director of access programs at the University of Manitoba, and program director for Indigenous focus programs at the University of Manitoba.
Jennifer Ouano, co-founder and executive producer, Pacific Content – Ouano has spent over 20 years in the digital media and technology sector. She has been a journalist, producer and director in radio, film and TV, but is also known for her work as an award-winning multi-platform producer, web strategist, social media guru and game designer. Ouanao was co-creator and senior producer of ZeD, a flagship interactive program and social media pioneer that received international accolades, including an Emmy nomination.
Tom Roemer, vice-president academic, B.C. Institute of Technology – Roemer was appointed vice-president academic at BCIT in January 2016. He is also adjunct professor in SFU’s faculty of education. He was previously vice-president of strategic development at Camosun College. Roemer has a strong interest in trades and technology education, is experienced in economic development and has worked in Brazil, Germany, China and Africa.
Benjamin Sparrow, co-founder and CEO, Saltworks – Sparrow grew desalination company Saltworks from a small machine in his apartment, to a profitable firm with two factories and global customers, including many Fortune 100 companies. He was previously a senior project manager for BC Hydro rebuilding power stations. He completed his MBA at SFU and his BSc in mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta.
Don Stuckert, principal, dstuckert & Associates – A technology executive, Stuckert has more than 35 years of business and technology leadership experience throughout North America. He has held executive positions in a broad range of industries, and worked for Placer Dome, TELUS, Sierra Systems and Systemhouse, and is a former vice-president and chief information officer at BC Hydro.
Alan Winter (ex-officio member), B.C. innovation commissioner – Winter has a breadth of experience at senior levels in the technology sector and in government, including such roles as the president and CEO of Genome BC from 2001 to 2016. He was the founding president and CEO of the New Media Innovation Centre in Vancouver, the president of the ComDev Space Group in Ontario, and the president and CEO of MPR Teltech Ltd. in Vancouver.
Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology