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Exclusive: Newly retitled Digital Global Innovation Cluster taps Edoardo De Martin as Chief Development Officer
The Digital Technology Supercluster has a new name and a new CDO.
The Digital Technology Supercluster has a new name, and a familiar face in the C-suite. The organization announced today that it has been rechristened as the Digital Global Innovation Cluster, and that former board co-chair Edoardo De Martin is rejoining the organization as its first-ever Chief Development Officer.
“As we near our fifth anniversary, our new identity as the Digital Global Innovation Cluster (Digital) reflects the global scope of our mission to build world-leading digital solutions to some of the planet’s biggest problems through co-investment, cross-sector collaboration, and digital talent development,” said Digital’s CEO Sue Paish in a release. “Now that we have cemented and validated our game-changing model for advancing digital tech, and with Edo returning to lead our strategic direction, we are accelerating the application and reach of our model, and partnering with a wider range of companies and organizations.”
Having served as co-chair of Digital’s Board from 2018 to 2021 while it was still named the Digital Technology Supercluster, De Martin possesses a profound understanding of the organization’s vision, purpose, and mission. Despite the familiarity, he will be without his former colleague and Digital Supercluster co-founder Bill Tam, who departed in October. Yet, De Martin is well-placed to head strategic direction alone, given his lengthy resume in the province’s tech industry.
Previously, De Martin held various leadership positions, including interim CEO and president at agtech company CubicFarms; served as general manager of the Microsoft Vancouver Development Centre, which he grew from 300 to 1,700 team members; and led the delivery of Need for Speed Underground for Burnaby-based Electronic Arts, a top-selling video game worldwide. He also serves on the boards of Innovate BC, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Richmond Hospital Foundation, and LlamaZOO Interactive.
But it was that stint in agtech with CubicFarms that I associate De Martin with most. He tells me that he left Microsoft to join the company for a new adventure, to go into a space he knew little about. Once there, as CTO, he built out the company’s tech stack. The task of that newfangled automation? To predict the health of a single plant. And he did just that, he reveals with an air of justified accomplishment.
But things changed over the summer. CEO Dave Dinesen retired and De Martin’s focus enlarged from honing in on a mere plant to running the whole company as interim president and CEO. That was until October. “I built the tech that I wanted to build,” he explains of his departure, “and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in the organization. I figured that was my time to go.”
So, why is now the right time — and Digital the right opportunity — to jump back in?
Since stepping down as co-chair in 2021, De Martin had been following the organization’s evolution. He called Paish recently and she brought him up to speed. That discussion was enough to get the pair brainstorming and talking about taking it to the next step. De Martin saw the evolution of Digital mirroring the growth of the technology industry as a whole.
“You have to have public and private working together – at least knowing how to work with each other,” he points out. “And, actually, Digital is one of those programs that really touches on that. I feel that, working with Sue and the team, that I can help make a greater impact and in building that, and I think that drives directly toward Canadian innovation. It gives people the framework — gives Canadian organizations the space to create. [There’s] economic benefit from doing that, in Canada and globally. And that's really why I wanted to help Digital.”
That “global” piece stuck out to me. De Martin mentioned it. Now, it’s in the name of the organization too. What exactly will the focus be?
It's always going to be about Canada, he reassures. The organization will work to benefit the country’s citizens – something that De Martin refers to as the number one priority. That’s what this whole thing was founded upon, after all: innovation within the country. So, the “global”? That’s to show that Digital is helping connect home-grown technology to the world.
“What it really means for us is to build the pipelines and connections so that our Canadian companies and our Canadian technology can make an impact on the global scale,” he says. “That’s really the key. We have a small population in Canada; we have a small market in Canada. For Canadian companies to scale and have global impact, they need to expand and grow. And what we want to do is really get us on the global stage. And that's the new piece for Digital.”
“Edoardo’s skill and experience in building productive teams and shaping ecosystems has been at the heart of his more than two decades in technology,” Paish added in a release. “He is a passionate advocate of Canada’s tech sector, and the team is proud and excited to be working alongside Edo again.”
After leaving his previous workplace, De Martin mentioned that he would take some time to work on his art. In the last three months, he’s picked the brush back up and longs to have his creations shown in a gallery again sometime. But, for now at least, Digital is the canvas he will be painting on.
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