Innovate BC announces new leader, doubling down on IP

After an almost nine-month search, Peter Cowan will succeed interim president Tomica Divic

Happy Tuesday, and welcome to your Morning Report!

After an almost nine-month search, Innovate BC has announced it’s found its next CEO. Effective February 5, the new head of the crown agency will be Peter Cowan

Cowan has more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles across Canada’s innovation ecosystem, and Innovate BC believes he will bring that lengthy expertise to his new organization. In his new job, Cowan will be tasked with maintaining and developing Innovate BC’s mandate to fund and deliver programs that support and grow the innovation economy, as well as forging partnerships to make more opportunities for local entrepreneurs and their companies.

“We are delighted to welcome Peter Cowan to Innovate BC,” said Andrew Petter, the crown agency’s board chair. "Peter understands that innovation is key to creating good jobs and building an inclusive, sustainable economy for the benefit of all British Columbians. His extensive knowledge of our province’s innovation ecosystem, coupled with his policy background and far-reaching experience in both the private and public sectors, make him an ideal person to lead the agency at this critical time.”

As well as holding roles from startups to multinationals, venture capital corporations, and non-profits, Cowan has strong experience in intellectual property strategy. He’s filed over 70 patents in the clean energy sector, and has advised on IP policy, operations, and strategy. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence, then, that his appointment follows swiftly on the heels of Innovate BC’s launch of AccelerateIP, a provincial initiative to support IP education and strategy in the region. It’s possible Cowan’s appointment will mean further investment from the province into this area.

Cowan will succeed Tomica Divic in the role, who held the position of interim president and CEO, and previously served as the vice president of operations. Prior to that, tech industry stalwart Raghwa Gopal retired early from the CEO post, announcing in April 2023 that he would step down in September, but instead calling it quits in mid-May.

Gopal boasts the longest tenure as president and CEO of Innovate BC in recent history. Greg Caws held the post from June 2013 for two years and nine months, Shirley Vickers held the top job in 2016 for just four months, and Carl Anderson took the reins in 2016 for one year and three months. Vickers returned for one year before Gopal was appointed in 2019. He was president and CEO for four years and two months.

Now, onto your daily briefing.

– Kate, Managing Editor

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