Iain Klugman, Lazaridis MBA ’01 alumni and current CEO of Communitech has been recognized as one of ‘Canada’s Most Powerful Business People of 2016’. Iain is no stranger to the spotlight, he is also a two-time Lazaridis School of Business and Economics alumni award recipient. Iain’s commitment to establishing Waterloo as a thriving hub for technology and innovation is at the forefront of his business success. Continue to read about Iain’s success in the Canadian Business exert below.
Ten years ago, Silicon Valley venture capitalists had little regard for the Waterloo Region startup community. “They wouldn’t come up here even if you paid them,” says Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. Now, investors from the Valley visit every week.
The area saw massive growth in the startup community over past few years. In 2010, only 155 startups called the region home; that number jumped to 513 in 2014. Klugman has played no small part in the success of the region, overseeing the development of many of the $100-million firms in Waterloo, Ont. through his role at Communitech, a non-profit organization whose mission is to grow successful tech companies. About 120 businesses reside at its 50,000-square foot clubhouse, and it offers services to more than 500 firms each year.
Klugman has started partnering with large corporations, too, turning Communitech into the go-to hub for established businesses that want to unleash their inner startup. Canadian Tire, TD, Manulife, Canon, Deloitte and Thomson Reuters have all established labs at its facilities. “These big companies are trying to figure out how to become more innovative, and how to be disruptive themselves as opposed to being disrupted by other startups,” Klugman says. “We offer them an opportunity to be embedded in the broader tech ecosystem, and through our labs, teach them how to think differently.” Klugman believes the relationship can be mutually beneficial: These big brands can help out the smaller players by partnering on initiatives or by becoming customers.
When TD was considering establishing an innovation hub, the choice of location was obvious. TD Lab director Ian McDonald explains Communitech stood out because it’s situated near the University of Waterloo, which has the largest concentration of math and computer scientists in the world, and because of the number of tech startups and established companies in the region. At the end of its first year, TD Lab has built 25 prototypes of apps and potential new services, including a financial education app for kids.
Klugman joined Communitech back in 2004, at a time when he was figuring out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He’d previously worked at the Privy Council Office and Nortel. After a visit to Communitech, he was persuaded to take over by local heavyweights, including Tom Jenkins, now chair of the board at OpenText. “You come here for a job and it ends up being your life’s work,” laughs Klugman.
His next aspiration is to build a Toronto-Waterloo Corridor and turn it into a world-leading innovation centre. “What you’ve got to have is as many Silicon Valleys as you can in your country,” he says. “That’s how you move the needle at the national level.”
Mike Lazaridis ranked top 5 among ‘Canada’s Most Powerful Business People of 2016’
Mike Lazaridis also ranked highly on the list of ‘Canada’s Most Powerful Business People’. Lazaridis envisions Waterloo as the future Silicon Valley and the producer of many young tech leaders. Continue to read about his vision in the Canadian Business exert below.
While other investors are busy chasing unicorns, Mike Lazaridis is funding the real next big thing. Quantum technology, he believes, will lead to a revolution akin to the commercialization of silicon-based products so many decades ago. Lazaridis, along with BlackBerry co-founder Doug Fregin, launched Quantum Valley Investments to fund startups in the field. They’ve started deploying capital on a few spinoffs from the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Ont.—which also happens to be founded by Lazaridis. Earlier this year, he gave $20 million to Wilfrid Laurier University to create a management institute for technology leaders. The foresight of Lazaridis (not to mention his willingness to invest in the Waterloo region) could ensure Canada—not Silicon Valley—owns the future of tech.
To view the full Canadian Business article ‘The Power 50: Canada’s Most Powerful Business People 2016’ click here.
To read more about Lazaridis MBA Alumni success stories, visit our Graduate Success page.