Raghwa Gopal to retire as head of Innovate BC, kicking off search for new leader

Raghwa Gopal
Gopal previously helped create Okanagan’s first startups accelerator.

Innovate BC has announced Raghwa Gopal, its president and CEO, is retiring in August.

Vice president of operations Tomica Divic will be taking over Gopal’s role in an interim capacity, as Innovate BC plans to launch a formal recruitment process for its new leader in the fall.

Gopal helped to create Okanagan’s first local startups accelerator.

Innovate BC is a Crown agency of the British Columbia government that is mandated to fund and deliver programs to support the growth of the innovation economy in the province. Innovate BC delivered several new programs and developed a focused diversity strategy under Gopal’s leadership, leading the organization’s efforts to secure funding from different sources to support BC businesses

Gopal was appointed to lead Innovate BC in 2019 after the organization’s previous CEO, Shirley Vickers, resigned at the beginning of that year.

During Gopal’s tenure in 2020, Innovate BC announced it would invest $375,000 towards 100 Mitacs internships to support COVID-19-specific projects.

Working with the provincial government, Gopal also led Innovate BC to launch the Innovator Skills Initiative to increase diversity in the tech sector, as well as a program meant to support companies in their IP strategies.

Gopal has been advocating for more diversity in BC’s tech sector, previously sharing with BetaKit in 2022 that Innovate BC partnered with the TAP Network to develop its diversity and inclusion resource hub, a guide for tech companies to implement inclusive hiring practices.

“As we all know, diversity helps build stronger communities and equity. But it also leads to stronger companies,” Gopal said.

Innovate BC has also been active in funding research and development projects in the province. Earlier this year, Innovate BC and the National Research Council of Canada made a combined investment worth $2 million to help 14 companies pilot their technologies and create new jobs across BC.

RELATED: Innovate BC opens applications for startups to receive up to $300,000 for R&D

Gopal helped create funding and other growth opportunities for startups across the province before joining Innovate BC. He helped to create Okanagan’s first local accelerator, Accelerate Okanagan, where he served as executive in residence. He became CEO of the accelerator in 2015.

Gopal has also served on the boards of multiple organizations, including the University of British Columbia, India Canada Innovation Council, Women’s Enterprise Centre, Central Okanagan Economic Development, and the Province of B.C.’s Emerging Economy Task Force.

Featured image from Innovate BC.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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