Kitchener-Waterloo innovation hub Communitech has named Chris Albinson, co-founder of The C100, as its new CEO.
Albinson will assume the role of CEO (virtually) on May 17, with plans to relocate to the Waterloo Region in the fall. His selection comes after what Communitech called a comprehensive search led by the organization’s board as well as an executive recruitment firm.
“Waterloo Region and Canada can count on Chris to boldly take Communitech from strength to even greater strength.”
Albinson is a co-founder of The C100, a nonprofit organization that aims to support Canadian tech entrepreneurship and investment. He has invested in 37 Canadian founders, including PixStream, ImagicTV, Abatis and Passwordbox, while also investing in firms such as Pinterest, DocuSign, and Turo. For more than two years, Albinson has also led the San Francisco-based BreakawayGrowth Fund, which invests in early-stage ventures such as Senso.AI, Careerlist, and Gentreo.
Dave Caputo, chair of Communitech’s board, said Albinson’s experience in venture capital and growth coaching, as well as his commitment to Canadian innovation, made him a suitable fit for the role of CEO.
“I’ve always deeply admired Communitech and the work it does to support Canadian firms and the Canadian ecosystem,” said Albinson. “Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, productivity growth and technology adoption are going to be absolutely essential to Canadian economic success.”
Communitech’s search for new leadership has spanned more than one year. Albinson replaces the organization’s long-time CEO Iain Klugman, who has served in the role since 2004. Klugman initially announced in October 2019 that he planned to step down as CEO of Communitech in early 2021.
At the time of that announcement, Klugman told BetaKit he felt it was the right time to end his term after seeing Communitech and its team mature to the point where he felt it was an option for him to step away.
However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Klugman announced in March 2020 he would delay his departure to continue supporting the hub, at the request of the board. Klugman said he was committed to steering Communitech through the “turbulence” of the pandemic. The organization hoped to keep Klugman on in order to handle the pandemic and then search for a new CEO, rather than doing both at the same time.
“I’m incredibly proud to have led this great organization for the past 17 years,” Klugman said. “In passing the torch to this great Canadian innovator, I have total confidence in Communitech’s future. Waterloo Region and Canada can count on Chris to boldly take Communitech from strength to even greater strength.”
Like many other Canadian tech hubs, Communitech has focused on delivering its programming and services virtually during the pandemic. The organization’s annual tech event TrueNorth was cancelled, but the organization is holding other events remotely, such as a virtual version of its job fair Tech Jam.
In February, the hub also unveiled the first cohort of its new Fierce Founders Uplift program, which focuses on supporting minority female and non-binary startup and small business founders. Over the last few months, Communitech has also been a key partner on Digital Main Street’s Future Proof program, which recently wrapped up.