MaRS names BDC SVP Alison Nankivell as new CEO

Alison Nankivell
Nankivell to assume the CEO position in March 2024.

Eight months after Yung Wu announced his retirement, the MaRS Discovery District has announced his replacement as CEO: BDC Capital senior vice president Alison Nankivell.

Nankivell comes to MaRS after 10 years of service at BDC, most recently BDC Capital’s SVP of fund investments and global scaling, where she was responsible for commitments into both venture and growth funds, as well as strategic environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. Nankivell also held senior positions at Export Development Canada and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with a particular focus on Asia funds.

“It’s been an amazing ride, filled with existential headwinds, perfect storms and exhilarating discoveries.”

Yung Wu,

“I am excited to lead MaRS Discovery District and work alongside our talented team to drive innovation, economic growth, and societal impact,” Nankivell said in a statement to BetaKit. “MaRS sits at a unique intersection of innovation in Canada and across the globe, and I am eager to build on its legacy and help shape the future of innovation in Canada and beyond.”

Wu joined MaRS as CEO in November 2017 on a five-year term after a prior period of retirement (in a LinkedIn post this week, Wu joked he is now entering his third attempt at retirement).

Over the past six years, Wu has guided MaRS through the pandemic, helped MaRS launch its flagship scale-up program, a climate impact program, biotech accelerator, cleantech accelerator, Graphite Ventures, a $100 million private VC fund, as well as the relaunched MaRS IAF

“It’s been an amazing ride, filled with existential headwinds, perfect storms and exhilarating discoveries—just what you would expect on ‘planet MaRS,’” wrote Wu.

RELATED: Yung Wu to depart as MaRS CEO at end of 2023 as innovation hub begins search for next leader

Wu will depart MaRS on December 31st, with Nankivell to assume the CEO position in March 2024. In the interim, MaRS’ Chief Delivery Officer, Krista Jones, will serve as CEO.

“We are confident Alison and the team will usher in a new era of innovation and growth at MaRS Discovery District,” said Claudette McGowan, vice-chair of the MaRS board, in a statement. “Alison brings exceptional leadership qualities and a shared commitment to our mission. Her vision aligns seamlessly with MaRS’ goals, and we look forward to the transformative impact she will have on our organization and the innovation community at large.”

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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