TechImpact names Cathy Simpson as new CEO

FREDERICTON, NB—Senior ICT leader Cathy Simpson is TechImpact’s new CEO.

Most recently T4G’s VP, People and Culture, Simpson will capitalize on her two decades of ICT and executive leadership experience to advance TechImpact’s key priorities of workforce development, fostering innovation and growing businesses in the technology sector.

“On behalf of the Board and Executive team, we are excited to have Cathy in this CEO role.  Throughout the years, she’s been involved in TechImpact on various initiatives and has a firm handle on our opportunities and challenges as we look for growth in our sector,” said Roman Coba, incoming Chair of TechImpact and CIO, Emera. “We are looking forward to her leadership in this new capacity.”

For the past 28 years Cathy has been deeply planted in the technology industry in Atlantic Canada, where she began her career at NBTel and Innovatia and was a co-founder of Propel. She is currently chair of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and founder of social innovation start-up Up + Go.

 “When I moved from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick 28 years ago, I never imagined I would still be here and have spent my entire career in the technology industry.  I have been fortunate to work with brilliant people doing extraordinary things, collaborating with clients in the private and public sector and to have been engaged in the start-up and research community as it’s evolved in Atlantic Canada,” said Simpson. “It’s an exciting time for our industry and I am honored to take on this new leadership role.”

TechImpact has three key priorities which include workforce development, fostering innovation, and growing businesses.  Simpson’s initial emphasis will be workforce development.    

About TechImpact
TechImpact is a private sector-led organization focused on growing the technology industry in Atlantic Canada. Founded in 2009, its membership is comprised of the CEOs of the larger technology companies and the CIOs from the largest IT consumers of technology in the region.

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Innovation the is the fuel that will transform our Atlantic Canadian economy

“Innovation is the fuel that will transform the Canadian economy. TechImpact is working to encourage increased innovation in all parts of our economy. This includes supporting increased private sector & university research and commercialization thereof.  This will lead to new products or services around which companies will be built. Innovation is not only for the private sector; we will also encourage the development of innovative and cost-effective ways to deliver traditional public services.”

Our definition of Innovation

Innovation is defined as the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.” - www.businessdictionary.com

This is a very simple, straightforward definition of innovation; however successful innovation is neither simple nor straightforward. We must remember that not all novel ideas, inventions or enhancements will be commercially successful. This is an important concept to be aware of when discussing research, development, invention, and process improvements. Many factors come into play to be commercially successful. Most cool ideas remain just that, and never make it to market, or if they do, they are not commercially successful. In many cases, the technical aspects of invention are the easy part of the process to successful innovation. Scale up, marketing, distribution and sales are often the most challenging and expensive part of the innovation process. Managing these challenges and risks is critical to successful innovation.

Although Tech Impact is an IT organization, the positions that we outline in this paper apply to most all industries in all sectors, from aerospace to zookeeping and everything in between. It also covers both product and service companies. Innovation must occur to create and commercialize new products as well as for process improvements such as sales funnels and assembly lines.

Technology is not essential for all innovation; however, it is important to remember that anything that is done to scale (meaning large scale and high volume) needs technology. Whether it is within newer IT industries such as mobile app development or more traditional “non-tech” industries such as fishing, farming or forestry.

Why do we need to innovate?

Atlantic Canada’s economic outlook is dire should our current course and speed perpetuate. Our Provincial governments are materially indebted, our demographics aren’t sustainable with an aging workforce and youth migration and our unemployment rates are high.

These are highly complex problems that require complex and long-term solutions. Increasing our export as a function of GDP will be a key component of any solution. Businesses that focus on exporting expand their growth potential beyond our relatively small regional market to much larger global markets. This enables sales volumes to increase dramatically, resulting in higher profit margins. It also brings new money into the region rather than recirculating the same funds within the region. To support the demands of international markets, businesses must be prepared to scale, which implies the need for innovation and technology.

Economies that embrace a high level of innovation can thrive economically and socially. The outcome will be increased GDP, increased export, increased employment and population growth Estonia is a great example of this.

“Over the past two decades, this former Soviet-controlled nation — home to just 1.3 million people, has quietly become one of the most tech-savvy countries on earth. Estonia is the 79th smallest country in the world by population but holds the world record in startups per person. It has among the world's fastest broadband speeds. The country teaches every kid how to code. Nearly all government services are conducted online. Citizens can access their health records in the cloud and pay for parking with their mobile phones.

Today, 95% of residents declare their taxes online and can do so in typically under five minutes.

The country also instituted a cutting-edge X-Road [data highway] technology platform to help organize, manage and share private and public data between government institutions. That system allowed Estonia to institute online voting in 2005, becoming the first country to ever do so.

Estonian engineers developed the code behind Skype in 2003 and sold it to eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion, triggering a windfall. "Suddenly, four kids in a place that everyone said was just a backwater boondox came up with something that became a worldwide phenomenon," President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said. "They became filthy rich and changed the whole mindset here from "Why should I study math?" to "I too could be one of those guys."

As the Skype founders became rock stars, a new generation of young Estonians flocked to try their hand at tech. Today, high-tech industries now make up about 15% of Estonia's total GDP. There are an estimated 350 Estonian startups — one for every 3,700 citizens.”  https://mic.com/articles/146542/the-unexpected-story-of-how-this-tiny-country-became-the-most-tech-savvy-on-earth#.WPpSPjhrO

“Estonia is a very open economy - the export of goods and services exceeds approximately 85% of GDP”.

We believe:

  • Innovation is a cornerstone of economic prosperity.
  • The fundamental components already exist within Atlantic Canada to create a culture of innovation within all sectors, to accelerate our Innovation activity and kickstart our economic growth and prosperity.

  • A planned approach to Innovation is the lowest risk and most cost-effective approach to maximize your ROI.

  • Collaboration is critical to acquiring new knowledge and expertise

  • Each business must find the right mix of radical and incremental innovation that matches their level of risk tolerance

  • Government, private sector, the startup community and academia must all have a collective understanding of their roles and be willing to collaborate with each other.

  • The BCLL is a novel approach to connecting business problems and opportunities to potential solutions provided by local companies and/or institutions.

  • TechImpact companies will lead by example and spearhead our collaborative innovation efforts in Atlantic Canada.

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