Accelerate Okanagan names new CEO after nine-month search

Brea Lake was named permanent CEO of Accelerate Okanagan on October 11 after serving as acting CEO since January | submitted

What happened: Accelerate Okanagan names new permanent CEO following nine-month search

Why it matters: The technology association is embarking on efforts to expand the tech sector in the Okanagan

Brea Lake has big goals in mind for the tech sector in the Okanagan as she takes over the top job at the not-for-profit organization charged with fuelling the region’s innovation sector.

“Currently our tech industry is about a $1.7-billion industry and we’re hoping in the next five years to grow that to be a $5-billion economic impact in the region,” the CEO of the Accelerate Okanagan Technology Association told Business in Vancouver on Friday (October 11), the day she was officially appointed to lead the organization on a permanent basis.

“What’s still not known is that we’re one of the fastest-growing innovation regions in all of Canada.”

To hit that objective, she said Accelerate Okanagan will be focusing on developing access to stronger mentorship for startups in a bid to fill in talent gaps in the mid-to-senior levels.

One of the organization’s other goals over the next five years is to further build networks to unlock capital investments.

Lake pointed to the abundance of wealth in the region — an area known for its retirees — as an asset that can be tapped.

Her organization has recently been taking on initiatives such as training people how to become angel investors.

Lake had been serving as the acting CEO of Accelerate Okanagan for the past nine months before being named as permanent CEO.

She takes over from Raghwa Gopal, who departed Accelerate Okanagan in late January to helm Innovate BC, a Crown agency that facilitates the development of B.C.’s tech sector.

Prior to the top job at Accelerate Okanagan, Lake was the organization’s director of operations.

She also serves as a board member for the Canadian Digital Media Network, is an executive committee member for the Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network and a director for the Okanagan College Foundation.

“We’re trying to come up with unique strategies on how … we serve and foster what’s already growing here in the region but also attract more people to the Okanagan,” Lake said.

“We have such a collaborative community, so really when a company chooses to set up shop here they’re really getting to be that big fish in a small pond. So there’s lots more mentorship, resources [and] we have a strong capital system that’s growing here.”