Gerri Sinclair steps down as BC’s innovation commissioner

Gerri Sinclair
Outgoing commissioner to take innovation role at Vancouver International Airport.

Gerri Sinclair has stepped down as British Columbia’s innovation commissioner, BetaKit has learned.

Sinclair’s departure from the role was effective April 1, according to an email announcing the departure obtained by BetaKit. The email, sent by BC assistant deputy minister of the Sustainable Economy Division Tim Lesiuk on March 28, noted that Sinclair left to take the position of vice president of innovation and chief information officer at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

“Gerri has been a champion of BC tech and innovation for many years and has been instrumental in promoting innovation across all sectors in our province,” Lesiuk’s email reads.

The commissioner’s purpose is to serve as “BC’s champion” for tech and innovation.

In a statement sent to BetaKit, BC’s minister of jobs, economic development and innovation Brenda Bailey thanked Sinclair for her years of service, noting she is “delighted” to learn Sinclair will support YVR’s work to become the first net-zero airport.

“Next steps are still being determined for the commissioner position, so at this time, the ministry is ensuring work underway continues,” the minister said in the statement.

BetaKit has reached out to Sinclair for comment.

Sinclair has served in the role of innovation commissioner since July 2020. She replaced Alan Winter, who completed his term earlier that year. 

Prior to her term, Sinclair served as managing director at the Vancouver outpost of Kensington Capital Partners, where she led the $100-million BC Technology Fund. She has also previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Vancity, and the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver. Sinclair alsofounded several organizations prior to her term, including Simon Fraser University’s Excite Lab and NCompass Labs, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001.

The innovation commissioner position was created by the province in 2018, and reports to BC’s minister of jobs, economic development and innovation, a role currently held by Brenda Bailey. According to the provincial government, the commissioner’s purpose is to serve as “BC’s champion” for tech and innovation. 

Previous commissioner Winter’s tenure was primarily focused on discovering opportunities in the ecosystem through research and stakeholder engagement.

Sinclair’s term focused on putting into action the strategies outlined in Winter’s report for enhancing the government’s support for the tech industry. That report advised the government, among other things, to create innovation hubs and clusters for emerging technologies, make better use of federal funds, and foster the development and safeguarding of intellectual property.

“Gerri has been a champion of BC technology and innovation with her in-depth experience in information technology, investment capital, and digital media technologies,” Bailey said. “She was instrumental in promoting innovation across all sectors in our province and an avid supporter of emerging BC technologies.”

There have been several notable developments in BC’s tech sector since Sinclair’s appointment. In 2021, the Government of British Columbia unveiled the $500-million InBC fund, aimed at attracting and anchoring high-growth businesses, talent, and jobs in the province.

The federal government also established the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) a dedicated regional development agency for BC. That agency has invested in several BC tech initiatives, including Innovate BC’s Integrated Marketplace initiative, which aims to help BC-based technology companies develop and operate new technologies that address business challenges and advance climate goals. 

Lesiuk’s email noted that Sinclair began her role during the “uncertainty of the pandemic,” and has since been “pivotal” to advancing several programs, including the Integrated Marketplace program.

“I want to thank [Sinclair] for her hard work and perseverance in helping us do the work we all do these past four years and to share how much I’ve appreciated her expertise and enthusiasm for technology and innovation, her commitment to growing the economy of BC, and her dedication to serving the people of BC,” the email reads.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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