Former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie Appointed Chair of Federal Technology Group

This week, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced that Jim Balsillie, the former executive of BlackBerry, will be taking over as the chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

The federal agency is focused on clean growth for technology companies in Canada. The agreement will keep Balisillie for five years.

“Clean technologies are making the extraction and use of our natural resources more efficient, our transportation better, our buildings more livable and our communities healthier, more cost-effective places to live and work,” Balsillie said Tuesday to the Globe and Mail.

Balisillie will be taking over for his predecessor Juergen Peutter, as well as leading Aeolis Wind Power Corp. as the president. He will also be supporting projects that develop new technologies that promote sustainable development.

Oliver touted Balisillie as a “Canadian visionary” with an unmatched résumé when he said, “Jim Balsillie is an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and businessman with a history in innovation and technology.” He added, “The objective here is to move to commercialization, from clean tech ideas to commercialization. And that’s a process he understands and he has been intimately involved in.”

The federal government is aiming to diversify its energy market and help Canadian companies capitalize on growing demand. Another objective is to improve the environmental performance of the energy sector introducing advancements in pipeline safety and reducing water usage.

“In the same way that smartphones have changed the way we operate day to day, we see clean technology not as a niche but as an indispensable part of a low-carbon future,” said Clare Demerse, federal policy director for the Pembina Institute. “I’m hoping that Jim Ballsillie’s background will be a significant asset in helping Canada’s clean technology sector tap into the trillion-dollar global clean technology market.”

The agency was established in 2001. It received $325 million this year as part of the federal budget in an effort to draw attention to the project and address climate change and the environment.

Canadian technology companies’ revenues are expected to climb as high as $62 billion by 2020 and create as many as 126,000 jobs, according to the government.

Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg