Innovate BC Announces New President and CEO

News January 29, 2024

Posted by Caitlin Brown

Innovate BC Announces New President and CEO Featured Image
With over 25 years of experience in leadership roles across Canada’s innovation ecosystem, Peter Cowan brings a wealth of expertise to his role leading the provincial Crown Agency dedicated to fostering innovation across B.C.’s economy. 

January 29, 2024 – Innovate BC’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Peter Cowan will become Innovate BC’s next President and CEO, effective February 5.  

“We are delighted to welcome Peter Cowan to Innovate BC,” said Andrew Petter, Innovate BC Board Chair. “Peter understands that innovation is key to creating good jobs and building an inclusive, sustainable economy for the benefit of all British Columbians. His extensive knowledge of our province’s innovation ecosystem, coupled with his policy background and far-reaching experience in both the private and public sectors, make him an ideal person to lead the agency at this critical time.” 

“I would also like to express the Board’s appreciation to Tomica Divic, Vice President of Operations, who assumed the role of Interim President and CEO last spring and has done an outstanding job guiding the agency over the past eight months.” 

Cowan’s extensive experience spans a diverse range of roles in the innovation ecosystem, from startups, multi-national organizations, and venture capital corporations to non-profits and innovation-based government agencies. He is a recognized leader in intellectual property (IP) strategy, with wide-ranging background in IP business operations and over 70 patents filed in the clean energy sector. He has advised on IP policy, operations, and strategy in numerous areas, including start-ups, scale-ups, technology transfer offices, accelerators and incubators, venture capital groups, and governments (provincial, federal, international).  

“We’re focused on building a clean, inclusive and innovative economy that works for all British Columbians, and Innovate BC is a driving force in that work,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development, and Innovation. “Peter’s leadership and decades of experience in organizations focused on innovation means an even more dynamic future for Innovate BC with him at the helm.” 

Most recently, Cowan held the interim CEO role as Intellectual Property Ontario’s first CEO where he led the launch of a new IP agency for the Province of Ontario, which developed and launched innovative IP programs that helped researchers and companies maximize the value of their IP, and strengthen their capacity to scale and compete in a global market. Cowan is also the founder of Northworks IP and co-founder and past Board Member of the Innovation Asset Collective, Canada’s first Patent Collective. 

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this vital organization that drives long term economic prosperity for British Columbia,” said Cowan. “Innovate BC has a proven track record of strengthening our innovation ecosystem and creating opportunities for innovators, industries and other stakeholders. I look forward to working with such a dedicated team to build on this success and to make further progress on our mandate from the Province.” 

Cowan is currently on the governance committee for the College of Patent and Trademark Agents. Peter holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and an MBA (Entrepreneurship; research focus in IP strategies for SMEs) from the University of Victoria, and an LLM (Intellectual Property; research focus on IP and board governance) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.  

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