Executive Director / Executive in Residence
Graham is a technology and entrepreneurial shaper, a.k.a. Startup Whisperer. He considers himself (and we do too) as an introverted extrovert and an optimistic pragmatist! With over 30 years’ experience working as an entrepreneur and executive in start-ups and small-medium-sized businesses, starting with mainframe computing in 1982, Graham’s career has spanned retail, manufacturing, commercial real-estate development and media/technology industries in Canada and the US. He has founded, co-founded and advised dozens of companies; realizing 7-9 figure revenues and raising over $150 million in venture and institutional financing. Product conceptualization, market research, strategic planning, creative financing and risk/opportunity assessments are key attributes to his work as an Executive in Residence and Business Advisor.
As a relentless information hacker and technology advocate Graham’s enthusiasm for new concepts and ideas is infectious! In helping his clients to build, grow and stay in place he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the challenge and opportunity of technology’s exponential future. Graham moved to the Comox Valley from West Vancouver in 2008 with his family; he enjoys skiing, SUP, sailing, and exploring trails by foot or pedal.
Executive in Residence
Entrepreneur, senior executive, and advisor – Joseph’s passion and experience has always revolved around early-stage ventures, and includes significant experience in commercialization strategy, corporate development, and financing. In this regard, he has worked with technology companies, as well as resource-based, and B2B (retail sector) ventures. Notable C-Suite roles include: his own several startups and successful exits; a senior executive role in a B2B startup which, in less than two years, grew to over $1M per week in revenues, and; serving as a founding director of a Florida-based specialty finance company, which grew during his involvement to $50M USD in net loans ($312M, 2016).
Skiing, racquet sports, and boating are some of Joseph’s favourite pastimes.
Executive in Residence
In having worked with over 150 organizations locally and internationally over the past 20+ years Janet is passionate about making a difference in the business community. Along with those assignments comes a great deal of adaptability and change management expertise. Backed with corporate-level skills from advising to national and multinational firms such as KPMG and MNP Janet has a wide range of entrepreneurial skills in helping businesses and ideas get off the ground quickly. With various credentials in business, finance, and project management she understands scalability and profitability challenges facing growing or pivoting organizations in changing marketplaces. Her experience spans multiple industries, highlights include: production/manufacturing, professional services, consulting, financial services, food and beverage, non-profit, construction and real estate development, energy and utilities, First Nations, marine operations, regulatory and public sector, sports management and education. Janet brings a skill set like a swiss army knife, if you can dream it up, she’s probably encountered it! When not in “business” mode Janet enjoys woodworking, paddleboarding or hiking in the forest.
Previous Team Members
Previous General Manager
Jennifer was the General Manager from 2019-2022. A passion for people, technology, training and systems Jennifer navigated the waters of Innovation Island through the trying times of the pandemic. This included transitioning the office to fully-remote office operations. In addition to here day-to-day duties, for 2 years she lead the DER3 Progam and fully remote Team working with over 450 businesses to help them get digital. She is still a fan, friend and advocate of Innovation Island and technology startups on the island.
Previous Team Members
Innovation Island: Board of Directors
Board Chair/President | MNP LLP
Location: Nanoose Bay
Cory is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Partner with MNP LLP. He works with non-profit, private and public sector organizations from Victoria to Port Hardy and across to the West Coast, and takes pride in giving back to the Island community. Cory also sits on the Boards of Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society and the Islands Agriculture Show Society. Cory grew up in Courtenay and currently lives in Nanoose Bay with his wife Keli and his children Ben and Sadie. An avid “early adopter”, Cory is passionate about technology and the change it brings to our world.
Vice Chair | Johnston Franklin Bishop
Blair Franklin is an estates & corporate lawyer. His practice includes wills, powers of attorney, contracts, leases, real estate conveyances, incorporations, and share purchases and sales. (*denotes law corporation). He was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. His parents moved to Smithers, B.C. when Blair was young. He lived in Smithers, B.C. playing hockey and skiing until his parents moved to Nanaimo, B.C. in 1980. Blair played soccer, hockey and one year of lacrosse in Nanaimo. He graduated from Nanaimo District Senior Secondary and took two years of undergraduate work in Commerce at Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University). After graduating from U.B.C. Faculty of Law, he returned to Nanaimo to article. He was called to the bar in May 1995 and joined Johnston Franklin in August 1995. Blair is married and has three children – Steven, Lisa and Trevor. He spends his time outside the office coaching hockey, curling, and softball and plays hockey and curls himself. Blair is a member of: Law Society of British Columbia; Nanaimo County Bar Association; Nanaimo City Bar Association; Canadian Bar Association; Treasurer of Solicitors’ General Practice – Central Vancouver Island; Nanaimo Curling Club (Board Member 06/07); Nanaimo Breakers Fast Pitch Softball Association, director; Certified Hockey Coach; Certified Curling Coach; Certified Softball Coach
Treasurer | CFO Technology Company
Secretary | Tremain Media
Location: Campbell River
Director at Large | Highland Secondary School
Don McRae has been a lifelong Comox Valley resident. After completing degrees in International Relations and Education at UBC, he returned to the Comox Valley to teach Social Studies at a local high school. Don served as a councillor for the City of Courtenay for 7 years, resigning his seat in 2009 after becoming the MLA for the Comox Valley. During his time in provincial government, he served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Education, and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. In 2017, Don stepped down from provincial politics to return to teaching. Don is currently a vice principal for the Comox Valley School District, husband to his wife Deanne and the father to Gracie and Chloe.