A new leader was sought at the Innovation Cluster in Peterborough | So Good News


The Peterborough and Kawarthas innovation cluster is searching for a new CEO after longtime CEO Michael Skinner and president John Gillis announced their resignations on Tuesday.

The pair will leave the organization at the end of the year.

“The Innovation Cluster has always been a labor of love, and our passion for supporting business growth and entrepreneurship in our community will not end with our departure,” Skinner and Gillis said in a joint press release.

Innovation Cluster is a non-profit organization that helps innovative and determined entrepreneurs to form and grow their technology companies.

Skinner, the founder and CEO of Operitel, an education software company that was later acquired by Open Text, joined the Innovation Cluster’s board of directors in 2012.

The entrepreneur, who has run several bars in downtown Peterborough, is a former Peterborough Business Citizen of the Year and Business Hall of Famer who ran as the Conservative candidate in Peterborough-Kawartha in the 2015 and 2019 federal elections.

In 2016, Skinner became CEO of the Innovation Cluster, and under his leadership, the organization expanded into a 10,000 square foot space at VentureNorth in downtown Peterborough, which includes incubation and accelerator services.

Gillis joined the Canadian Innovation Cluster in 2017 with expertise in the cleantech, water, wastewater and factory automation industries.

He introduced the H2O Makerspace to the organization, giving clients access to more than 30 pieces of water testing equipment.

Over the past five years, Skinner and Gillis have led the Innovation Cluster to create nearly 900 jobs, support more than 300 companies to launch, grow and scale, and generate $54 million in economic impact, according to a news release from the organization.

The pair will continue to work together after their departure with a new venture to be announced in 2023.

“It was an amazing experience. I get to watch hundreds of entrepreneurs come up with ideas, sometimes with just a napkin and the look on their head, and I get to watch them develop those ideas,” Skinner said.

Skinner noted that hands-on experience in an innovation-driven business and being a dynamic leader who listens to their team are key qualities for a CEO in the Innovation Cluster.

The opening is posted online on Indeed, with an application deadline of November 18.

“Both Michael and John have been integral to the growth of the Innovation Cluster over the past several years, particularly through the unprecedented challenges of the recent global pandemic,” said Nicole Stevenson, Chair of the Innovation Cluster’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank Michael and John for their outstanding contributions.”


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