Former Research In Motion Ltd. executive Jim Balsillie is taking over an arms-length federal agency aimed at spurring Canada's clean technology sector.
Mr. Balsillie was announced Tuesday as the chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a not-for-profit foundation established with a federal grant in 2001 to support Canadian researchers and firms in the clean tech sector, tackling issues related to climate change, water quality and air quality.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver praised Mr. Balsillie's record at the Toronto announcement on Tuesday, calling him a "Canadian visionary" with an unmatched resume in global innovation.
"When Jim and I met to discuss SDTC, I could immediately sense his passion and drive. He is someone on a mission to ensure that entrepreneurs who have the will to succeed also have a way," Mr. Oliver said in a prepared statement.
In a statement released by the federal government, Mr. Balsillie said he was honoured to join SDTC, which bills itself as a catalyst for Canada's clean tech entrepreneurs.
"I look forward to continuing the great work that is being achieved through this organization and offering my experience in commercializing new technologies and growing them globally," Mr. Balsillie said in a statement.
He will serve a five-year term on the SDTC board. He takes over from outgoing chair Juergen Puetter, president of Aeolis Wind Power, which develops wind power in northeastern B.C., and Blue Fuel Energy, specializing in low-carbon renewable fuels. Mr. Puetter's term ended in 2012, but he agreed to serve until a replacement was named.
This year's federal budget allocated $325-million over eight years to SDTC, Mr. Oliver's office said. The agency spent $68-million to projects in 2012. Mr. Balsillie's new gig is hardly a lucrative one - the position of board chairman of SDTC pays $12,000 annually, with a $550 stipend for each meeting.
Mr. Balsillie stepped down from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion last year, before RIM was rebranded as BlackBerry. Mr. Balsillie had spent 20 years with the Waterloo, Ont., tech giant, helping build it into one of the world leaders in smart phones.
Since leaving the company, Mr. Balsillie has been an adviser at a number of venture capital firms and startups. Three years ago, he was appointed to the UN's Panel on Global Sustainability. He founded the Balsillie School of International Affairs, was the founding chair of the Canadian International Council and remains chair of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Waterloo think-tank he also founded.
A hockey fan, Mr. Balsillie also found himself in the spotlight amid repeated attempts to buy an NHL team and relocate it to southwestern Ontario. That chase has ultimately proven fruitless, with Mr. Balsillie clashing regularly with League Commissioner Gary Bettman.
OTTAWA - The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jun. 25 2013, 10:21 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 25 2013, 11:29 AM EDT
Article Courtesy of the Globe and Mail