Former LifeLabs CEO takes top job at B.C. supercluster initiative

Sue Paish says her first goal is to build on momentum of transition team

Sue Paish, CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster

The former president and CEO of LifeLabs Diagnostic Laboratories is set to lead the B.C.-based supercluster initiative featuring more than 350 partners, including Telus Corp. (TSX:T), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) and more than a dozen post-secondary organizations.

Monday (May 14) marked Sue Paish’s first day as CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster.

“Job one for me to is to make sure that we take that momentum from the transition team and continue to build on that,” said Paish, a lawyer by trade who led LifeLabs from 2012-17.

Prior to that she served as CEO of Pharmasave Drugs (National) Ltd. from 2007-2012. She was honoured earlier this year with Business in Vancouver’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Influential Women in Business ceremonies.

The supercluster program is aimed at creating public-private partnerships in regions with extensive business activity that would allow for collaboration in innovation between different companies and post-secondary institutions.

“This is about companies coming together and producing platforms and other technologies that they wouldn’t have been able to do without this initiative,” Paish told BIV.

B.C.’s supercluster is focused on collaborations on digital technologies capable of transforming traditional industries such as natural resources, transportation and manufacturing, as well as advancing innovations in health technologies, telecommunications and the creative and digital economy

It plans to launch its first phase of pilot projects by September. Those projects are expected to focus on technologies that will help the province’s resources sector, such as mining and forestry.

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster was among five proposals that successfully secured a shared total of $950 million from Ottawa to pursue their respective initiatives.

Paish said she hopes to have clarity by early this summer regarding how much of the nearly $1 billion the B.C. initiative will have access to.

Before funding from Ottawa was confirmed, the West Coast bid had secured more than $500 million in funding commitments from its partners, which numbered 260 at the time.

The B.C. supercluster estimated in a November 2017 executive summary that participants could eventually invest $1.4 billion to fund 100 collaborations involving 1,000 organizations over a decade.

Meanwhile, the new CEO said she will be building her leadership team and travelling throughout Canada and the province to ensure a diversity of perspectives is included within the supercluster.

“One of the things that we have promised to the federal government and we’ve actually started moving on quite quickly is making sure that what we do is relevant across the entire province,” she said.

“It’s not Vancouver’s Digital Technology Supercluster. It’s not even British Columbia’s. It’s Canada’s.”