The governments of Ontario and British Columbia this week made appointments to their respective innovation agencies as both provinces look to increase tech investments locally.
Trevor Dauphinee has been named the CEO of Invest Ontario while Leah Nguyen was appointed chief investment officer of InBC Investment Corp.
Invest Ontario and InBC are government agencies that each province has created over the last couple of years to attract innovation to their regions as well as invest in sectors that include tech.
The Ontario government announced Invest Ontario as part of its 2020 budget as an investment attraction agency initially focusing on three sectors: technology, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences. In its 2021 budget, the province committed $400 million over four years to create the Invest Ontario Fund meant to both support the agency and “encourage investments” in the above-mentioned sectors. There have been few details shared about the fund since it was announced last year.
Dauphinee was named the CEO by Invest Ontario’s board of directors after helping establish and operationalize the agency as its interim CEO since April 2021.
Prior to developing the agency, Dauphinee was the assistant deputy minister at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. In a statement, Invest Ontario called him instrumental in securing “significant investment” in the manufacturing, life sciences and technology sectors in his role at the ministry.
Dauphinee has also held several roles at the province’s Treasury Board and Ministry of Infrastructure where he specialized in capital planning and developing social and health infrastructure.
The appointment comes as the Ontario government has continued to make commitments to the tech sector over the past couple of years, despite widespread cuts in 2019 that caused concern in the ecosystem. The Ontario 2021 budget focused on pandemic recovery and included a focus on tech to do so. In June, the government committed $100 million, $40 million of which was new, towards a fund of funds focused on supporting high-potential tech companies in the province. Earlier this year, the province partnered with MaRS IAF to launched a new $100 million fund that will focus on early-stage investments.
In British Columbia, InBC is an investment agency that was created as part of the province’s 2021 budget. InBC is responsible for a $500 million investment fund meant to help scale small and medium-sized BC businesses. The agency is also meant to encourage a low carbon economy, support reconciliation with Indigenous people, and achieve greater diversity and inclusion.
Nguyen comes to InBC from the Telus Pollinator Fund for Good where she served as investor director. Prior to that Nguyen worked on the Telus Ventures team. She will assume her new role with InBC as of April 4.
Nguyen’s appointment follows that of Jill Earthy as CEO of InBC in December.
As chief investment officer, Nguyen has been tasked with creating the vision for and executing the InBC investment strategy.
InBC’s focus on helping create a low carbon economy is in line with the province’s cleantech focus that has been prominent in recent years. In its recent budget, BC focused largely on cleantech with little investment for the tech sector outside of that.
“[I] look forward to helping realize the vision of InBC to help the province’s companies grow and prosper,” said Nguyen. “I feel passionately that by supporting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, industries, and regions of the province to pursue their business goals and ambitions, we are creating a better economic future for British Columbians.”