Board of Directors

Jim Balsillie, Board Chair

Jim’s career is unique in Canadian business. As the retired Chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), a technology company he scaled from an idea to $20 billion in sales globally.

Jim is the co-founder of the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, the Council of Canadian Innovators based in Toronto, the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, the Centre for Digital Rights; and the CIO Strategy Council. He currently chairs the boards of CCI, CIGI, and co-Chairs CIOSC.

Jim was the only Canadian ever appointed to US Business Council and was the private sector representative on the UN Secretary General’s High Panel for Sustainability. His awards include several honorary degrees, Mobile World Congress Lifetime Achievement Award, India’s Priyadarshni Academy Global Award, Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People and three times Barron’s list of “World’s Top CEOs.

Daniela Bassan, Q. C. (B.A., LL.B., LL.M)

Daniela is a Partner at Stewart McKelvey, a full-service law firm with offices throughout Atlantic Canada. A Harvard graduate fluent in four languages, she is Chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property practice group and certified as a legal project manager. 

Daniela works with a diverse range of clients in complex commercial litigation including cross-border/international disputes. She has experience as a member of independent boards and advisory committees in private, public, and charitable sectors. This includes memberships in law reform initiatives in Canada and Europe, as well as organizations focused on international trade and commerce. She has spoken at national and international events on a variety of topics including legal innovation and technology. 

Daniela served as a Director for the Canadian Commercial Corporation from 2014 to 2020.

Neil Desai 

Neil is an executive with Magnet Forensics, a Canadian technology company that develops digital forensics software used by more than 5,000 police, national security and other agencies with investigative authorities in 95 countries. Neil is also a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and is a faculty member at Singularity University. Neil serves on the board of directors of the YMCA Canada, Public Policy Forum and ClearRisk Inc.

Neil previously served in the Government of Canada in senior roles at Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Peter Cowan, IAC Co-Founder

Peter has 20 years’ experience in IP strategy and is a frequent speaker and advisor on innovation and IP strategy. He has worked on the business operations side of IAM to plan, create and lead the execution of all processes and methods used in the organization. He has deep technical expertise and is a named inventor on almost 70 patents in the clean energy sector.  Peter actively advises a diverse client base that includes: Start-ups, scale ups, technology transfer offices, accelerators & incubators, venture capital groups, and governments.

Since 2014 he has been listed in the IAM 300, a peer-nominated listing of the world’s top 300 IP strategists by London-based IAM Magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) and an MBA (Entrepreneurship; research focus in IP strategies for SMEs) from University of Victoria, and an LLM (Intellectual Property; research focus in IP & Board Governance) degree from Osgoode Hall.

Maggie Fox

Maggie is a social media entrepreneur and founder of Social Media Group, the world’s first pure-play social media agency. Since 2006, she has worked globally in senior marketing leadership positions with SAP, is a two-time global CMO and has spent almost a decade volunteering on national not-for-profit boards, including The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Ryerson University DMZ start-up incubator.

Maggie was listed as one of the 100 Most Influential Marketers in Marketing Magazine’s 100th anniversary edition and the National Post has named her one of Canada’s Top Innovators. Fox currently advises first-time CEO’s of high-growth companies and serves as an independent Corporate Director at Smile.io. Maggie also sits on the National Governing Board for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is the Vice-Chair of the Ontario Advisory Board.

Kiriakoula Hatzikiriakos (LLM)

Kiriakoula is Senior Manager, Legal Counsel in the Retail, Commercial, International sector at the National Bank of Canada (NBC). She is also the manager of Knowledge Management initiatives for the Legal team, including legislative and regulatory watch projects with the Compliance sector.

Kiriakoula is an author with Lexis Nexis. The second edition of her book “Secured Lending in Intellectual Property” was published in 2017. She is a course lecturer on secured transactions and bankruptcy at the Faculty of Law of University of Montreal. 

Kiriakoula is an active member of various Canadian and American industry associations: Executive member of the Business Section of Canadian Bar Association (Quebec Division); Vice-Chair of the Intellectual Property Financing Subcommittee of the Commercial Finance Division of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section; Regent of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers.

Leah Lawrence

Leah is a lifelong advocate for engineering, entrepreneurship and the environment. As the president and CEO at SDTC, she oversees the $150 million that the organization invests annually in entrepreneurs developing new environmental technologies.

Over the years, she has served on many corporate and non-profit boards, including serving as president of the Ottawa chapter of the International Women’s Forum. In 2018, she was honoured to receive the Centennial Leadership Award, APEGA’s highest distinction for a member who has achieved exemplary achievements in their career. In 2019, she was listed in WXN’s Top 100 list as one of the nation’s most powerful women in business, recognizing her drive and passion for innovation. 

Leah has her Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Regina and her Master of Economics from the University of Calgary. She is also a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of Engineers Canada.

Ruth McHugh

Ruth is an FCPA, an MBA and a governance specialist. As demonstrated throughout her career as a business leader and most recently in her roles as Executive Director with Alberta’s Legislative Assembly Office and Chief Operating Officer at the Office of the Auditor General of Alberta, she has a proven history of driving innovation and delivering results.

Before joining the Auditor General, Ruth was chief financial officer and director of operations at the Art Gallery of Alberta and had a distinguished career as director of operations and controller of Company’s Coming Publishing Limited. Ruth currently serves as a director on the board of Canada’s new College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents, which governs the profession and promotes the highest quality of IP support.

Ruth holds an MBA from Heriot-Watt University and is a graduate of the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program.

Chris Wormald, IAC Co-Founder

Chris has over 15 years of experience as a technology leader, generating and managing IP. Chris is the founder of Veramito Inc., a private company that invests in promising technology companies in Waterloo region. He currently mentors over a dozen entrepreneurs and C-level executives on strategies that help them scale up globally as well as serving on 11 boards of directors.

As head of corporate development at BlackBerry, Chris was part of the team that built the most valuable patent portfolio in Canadian business. He is one of the original inventors of BlackBerry Messenger, and a named inventor for 33 granted patents. He has negotiated hundreds of complex licence agreements worth tens of billions of dollars.

Chris has both an MBA (Richard Ivey School of Business, UWO) and Mechanical Engineering (B.A.Sc. University of Waterloo) degrees, finishing both with first-class honours.

Board Observer & ISED Representative

Erin Campbell, Director of Patent Policy, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch,
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada