VentureLab has announced its president and CEO Melissa Chee has decided to step down, launching its external search process for a new leader.
Chee did not disclose the reason for her departure, only noting that “What comes next is about scaling and requires a different playbook … This is the right time to make space for a new leader,” in her statement on LinkedIn.
“Under [Chee’s] tenure, ventureLAB has achieved … the highest levels of funding and revenue in its 12-year history.”
Chee joined the Markham, Ont.-based tech hub in 2017 and will end her five-year term as president and CEO on June 30. Matt Skyner, who has been VentureLab’s chief operating officer since 2019, will serve as president and CEO on an interim basis starting July 1.
VentureLab said Chee has also agreed to continue as strategic advisor to its board to support the leadership transition until a new CEO is selected.
In the face of a global chip shortage, VentureLab made several strides to support Canada’s semiconductor startups under Chee’s leadership.
As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the availability of workers and facilities, the international supply of chips was severely strained. Though supply levels have slightly improved as COVID-19 restrictions subsided, a report from JP Morgan claims this shortage could stick through 2024.
To help support Canada’s semiconductor industry, Chee led VentureLab’s creation of Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), a lab and incubator for founders commercializing hardware and semiconductor solutions.
VentureLab said more than 60 companies have been selected for the HCI since it first opened in 2020. Additionally, its network of nearly 50 industry partners has committed to re-invest over $55 million back into the Canadian innovation ecosystem, including the country’s semiconductor industry.
“Against the unprecedented backdrop of the global pandemic and dynamic economic conditions, Melissa reinvented ventureLAB by envisioning a new bold, strategic vision,” said Paul Bradley, chair of VentureLab’s board of directors. “Under her tenure, ventureLAB has achieved record high net promoter scores, business outcomes, and the highest levels of funding and revenue in its 12-year history.”
VentureLab has received over $13 million in investments for HCI in recent years, including a $2.5 million contribution from the Ontario government to establish a medtech stream within the semiconductor-focused incubator.
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In December 2022, Venture Lab also received $1 million to launch an automotive-specific stream within HCI. That funding was made through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network as part of a cumulative $19 million investment to a number of tech hubs in the province.
Prior to her promotion to president and CEO in 2018, Chee served as VentureLab’s chief operating officer.
Chee’s support for the semiconductor industry and the Canadian tech ecosystem extends beyond her work at VentureLab as well.
In 2021, VentureLab partnered with Dell and AMD to establish Canada’s Semiconductor Council, an industry association that represents companies and organizations in the country’s semiconductor space. Chee is one of the founding members of that council.
Chee has also worked in leadership roles in a number of companies operating in the telecommunications and semiconductor sectors, such as Nortel Networks, Spectra7 Microsystems, and Fresco Microchip.
Featured image courtesy Melissa Chee.