Michael Skinner, John Gillis to leave top roles with Innovation Cluster Peterborough

The Innovation Cluster Peterborough and Kawarthas says CEO Michael Skinner, left, and president John Gillis have resigned. Submitted photos

Two top roles at the Innovation Cluster Peterborough and Kawarthas are vacant as chief executive officer Michael Skinner and president John Gillis have resigned.

The Innovation Cluster, a not-for-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs in the formation and growth of their technology-based companies, with a strong focus on cleantech, said Tuesday that Skinner and Gillis have resigned and will depart the organization at the end of the year.

In a joint statement, Skinner and Gillis said they will be announcing the launch of a new venture in 2023.

“The Innovation Cluster has always been a labour of love and our passion for supporting business growth and entrepreneurship in our community will not end with our departure,” the statement read. “We look forward to staying connected with the people who have made our time at the Innovation Cluster unforgettable. We are excited to see the introduction of fresh ideas to the Organization under new leadership.”

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Skinner joined the Innovation Cluster’s board of directors in 2012 as a serial entrepreneur, business citizen of the year and previous founder and CEO of Operitel, which was acquired by OpenText in 2011. He became CEO of the Innovation Cluster in 2016. Skinner also ran as a Conservative candidate for Peterborough-Kawartha in the 2015 and 2019 federal elections.

Gillis, a business leader in Canadian cleantech, water, wastewater and plant automation (IOT) industries, joined the Innovation Cluster in 2017. He introduced an H2O Makerspace to the organization, giving clients access to more than 30 pieces of sophisticated water testing equipment.

The Innovation Cluster notes that during their tenures, the organization expanded to its 10,000-square-foot location in downtown Peterborough to include incubation and accelerator services. The board of directors says Skinner and Gillis helped the Innovation Cluster create an economic impact of $54 million and nearly 900 jobs and support more than 300 companies to launch, grow and scale.

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“Both Michael and John have been integral to the growth of the Innovation Cluster over the past few years, especially through the unprecedented challenges of the recent global pandemic,” said Nicole Stephenson, chair of the board of directors. “On behalf of the entire board, I thank Michael and John for their immense contributions and wish them both continued success in their future endeavours.”

The board on Tuesday announced it is now accepting applications for the role of CEO.

The Innovation Cluster receives core funding from the City of Peterborough, Trent University, Fleming College, Peterborough Region Angel Network, the City of Kawartha Lakes, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Franklin Empire and the Federal Ontario Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

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