Canadian innovation has long been at the forefront of important global initiatives.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains

Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, April 26, 2020

Intellectual Property (IP) is at the heart of Canada’s innovation economy and its future viability.

Canadian entrepreneurs rise to the challenge of global problems each and every day. For these SMEs, IP and data represent their most enduring assets, yet because of a lack of understanding around its importance, many aren’t making intentional resource allocation decisions around IP, which can impact their long-term growth and ability to scale.

IAC, Canada’s first patent collective program, is focused on fixing this. With the support of the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and a $30 million federal contribution, IAC is solely committed to Canadian innovation.

Equipped with a strong mandate to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in data-driven cleantech to better leverage IP in their drive to grow and scale, IAC will put Canadian innovation first. Canadian entrepreneurs will have a collective they can rely on to provide expertise advice and access the resources needed to grow, scale globally and reap the profits of their innovation.

Our Leadership Team

Charis Wormald
Chris Wormald

IAC co-founder Veramito

Chris Wormald has over 15 years of experience as a technology leader generating and managing Intellectual Property (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 helps them scale up globally […]

Jim Hinton
Jim Hinton

IAC co-founder Own Innovation

James Hinton is the founder of Own Innovation and a proud supporter of Canadian technology companies. In addition to being an IP lawyer, he is both a patent and trademark agent before the Canadian IP Office and works directly for Canadian companies with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is also a fellow at […]

Peter Cowan

IAC co-founder Northworks IP

Peter Cowan is the founder and Principal Consultant at Northworks IP, an IP Strategy Advisory firm that was founded to help companies maximize value of their IP assets through a business focused approach to IP. Peter Cowan has 20 years of experience in IP strategy, and for the past 7 years has worked as a […]


Our Board of Directors

The success of IAC is a collective effort of amazing partners and supporters who have worked alongside the IAC founders and team from the very early stages of IAC’s inception. It is with this support that IAC has been able to swiftly adapt and deliver targeted IP expertise and support to Canadian SMEs in the data-driven cleantech industry.

It is our pleasure to introduce IAC’s Board of Directors and welcome new members who further diversify and integrate valuable expertise and perspective to help drive IAC forward.

      • Jim Balsillie, Chair
      • Daniela Bassan
      • Peter Cowan
      • Neil Desai
      • Maggie Fox
      • Kiriakoula Hatzikiriakos
      • Leah Lawrence
      • Ruth McHugh
      • Lally Rementilla
      • Jim Hinton (observer)
      • Chris Wormald (observer)
      • Jennifer Miller (ISED representative and observer)
Jim Balsillie (chair)

Jim Balsillie’s career is unique in Canadian business. He is 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. Mr. Balsillie’s private investment office includes global and domestic technology investments and was part of the consortium that recently purchased the Canadian space technology leader MDA.

He 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. He is also the founder of the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Arctic Research Foundation; a member of the Board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Advisory Board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre; an Honorary Captain (Navy) of the Royal Canadian Navy and an Advisor to Canada School of Public Service. 

Mr. Balsillie 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

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

Ms. Bassan 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. 

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

Peter Cowan

Peter Cowan (P.Eng., MBA, LL.M) has 20 years' experience in IP strategy, and is a frequent speaker and advisor on the subject of 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 related to patent strategy (defensive, offensive, and visionary), portfolio management, and global licencing programs. He has deep technical expertise and is a named inventor on almost 70 patents in the clean energy sector.  His background has given him leadership over technical teams, policy makers, and executives on the strategic aspects of IP across eight countries. Mr Cowan actively advises a diverse client base that includes: Startups, scale-ups, technology transfer offices, accelerators & incubators, venture capital groups, boards, multi-nationals, and governments in multiple jurisdictions on IP policy and IP strategy. 

Mr. Cowan works to mentor and volunteers his time to assist SMEs in Canada on developing strong IP portfolios and to strategically leverage IP to their advantage. For the past several years he has been advocating for changes that will benefit the public, including as one of two designated Standards Council of Canada Technical Committee experts to represent Canada’s interests in the global IP Management Standard (ISO 50505).  

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. He is a frequent speaker on IP topics and author of several articles related to IP strategy, IP & Board Governance, including a book chapter on IP Portfolio Management.

Neil Desai

Neil Desai 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 public and private agencies with investigative authorities in 95 countries. He 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. He previously served in the Government of Canada in senior roles at Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office. 

Maggie Fox

Social media entrepreneur Maggie Fox founded Social Media Group, the world's first pure-play social media agency in 2006. In the years since, she's 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 startup incubator. She 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. She also sits on the National Governing Board for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is the Vice-Chair of the Ontario Advisory Board.

Kiriakolula Hatjikiriakos

Kyriakoula Hatjikiriakos (LLM) is Senior Manager, Legal Counsel in the Retail, Commercial, International sector of the Legal team 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.

She advises on all aspects of commercial lending and secured transactions across Canada and oversees NBC’s commercial policies and procedures. Prior to her joining NBC, she was a partner in a Canadian law firm where she practiced in the banking and financing group. 

Kyriakoula is an author with Lexis Nexis. The second edition of her book “Secured Lending in Intellectual Property” was published in 2017 (www.koulah.com). Kyriakoula has published several articles on cross-border secured transactions, as well as on intellectual property financing transactions and has presented at several conferences on these topics. She is a course lecturer on secured transactions and bankruptcy at the Faculty of Law of University of Montreal. 

She 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 a year that the organization invests 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, the chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). 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. 

Ms. Lawrence 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 McHugh 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, Ms. McHugh 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.

As co-chair of the Alberta Accountants Unification Agency, Ms. McHugh was a leading influence in the successful merger of the CA, CMA, and CGA accounting designations to create the unified Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. Prior to that, she served two consecutive terms as board chair for CMA Alberta and a term as vice-chair of the CMA Canada Council of Chairs. In 2011, she was named a Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada for her distinguished service to the Canadian accounting profession.

Ms. McHugh 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. Ms. McHugh also serves as a Director on the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Alberta Board of Directors, the TELUS Edmonton Community Board, and the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) Edmonton Executive Committee.

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

Lally Rementilla

Lally Rementilla is Managing Partner, Intellectual Property (IP) Investments at the Business Development Bank of Canada. She oversees and provides strategic guidance to a national team that helps IP-rich companies accelerate the growth or the commercialization of their innovation.

Following more than two decades of experience as a financial executive in the technology sector, she moved into investment, becoming Chief Financial Officer and then President & Chief Executive Officer of alternative commercial lender Quantius. At Quantius, she structured and launched the company’s main fund and helped build a diverse portfolio of knowledge-based companies. Prior to that, she was Vice President of Finance and Administration at Nulogy Corporation. She was also a Vice President at Lavalife and Lucent Technologies Canada. 

She is an Associate Fellow at the Creative Destruction Lab and a member of the Grand Challenges Canada investment committee. She previously served on several other boards, including Pique Ventures Investments, the Information Technology Association of Canada, nextMEDIA and Canadian Women in Communications, as well as the former Canada Lead for the Billion Dollar Fund for Women.

Ms. Rementilla is a proud supporter of Canadian innovation and derives great satisfaction from partnering with founders and management teams to help them scale. She is an experienced gender lens investor with an eye to creating impact for women globally. A Chartered Professional Accountant, she also holds a Master of Business Administration from York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Ateneo de Manila University.


Founders, Board Observers & ISED Representative

Jim Hinton

James Hinton is the founder of Own Innovation and a proud supporter of Canadian technology companies. In addition to being an IP lawyer, he is both a patent and trademark agent before the Canadian IP Office, and works directly for Canadian companies with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

He is also a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, where he studies IP and innovation policy. He also has a background in mechanical engineering, and worked in heavy truck manufacturing and fiberglass project management before law school. Additionally, he has a Bachelor of Engineering from McMaster University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto. Mr. Hinton is an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario where he teaches engineers all about IP. He's also a huge advocate of pro bono legal services and work with entrepreneurs locally and nationally at incubators and accelerators on IP and IP strategy. Finally, he works closely with the Council of Canadian Innovators on Canada’s innovation initiatives and Canada’s national IP strategy. 

Chris Wormald

Chris Wormald has over 15 years of experience as a technology leader generating and managing Intellectual Property (IP). As head of corporate development at BlackBerry, he was part of the team that built the most valuable patent portfolio in Canadian business and sold Canadian IP in 170 countries around the world. He is one of the original inventors of BlackBerry Messenger, and a named inventor for 33 granted patents. 

During his distinguished career, he has acquired or licenced over 1,000 patents in a wide array of fields and managed teams that worked on understanding, distinguishing value and securing special rights for IP. He has negotiated hundreds of complex licence agreements worth tens of billions of dollars, more than any other Canadian. He is the creator of the viral patent license, a tool used to get a license to an entire patent portfolio by placing viral license clauses in other patents. He currently works as an angel investor and a business advisor to high-growth technology companies that are developing strategic partnerships with their IP. 

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller is the Director General of the Marketplace Framework Policy Branch at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, focusing on issues related to privacy, data protection, intellectual property, copyright, competition and insolvency.  Previously, she was responsible for the federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative and served as ISED’s Director of Emerging Technologies.

Previous roles within the federal government have included various responsibilities at the Privy Council Office, including economic and social policy analysis and advice to Cabinet, as well as leadership of the policy innovation agenda.  She also spent several years at ESDC, where she worked on various files related to post-secondary education and student financial assistance.