Lane Merrifield has been named the 2017 Business Leader of the Year by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. —FreshGrade

Kelowna chamber names its 2017 Business Leader of the Year

Club Penguin co-founder Lane Merrifield will receive the award Oct. 12.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has announced Lane Merrifield will be named its 2017 Business Leader of the year, in conjunction with its Business Excellence Awards, to be handed out Oct 12.

The chamber said Monday the award recognizes and celebrates Lane for his outstanding contributions to the business community in the Central Okanagan.

No stranger to the community, Merrifield is well-known as one of the founders of Club Penguin, the largest online virtual world for kids, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2007 for $350 million.

His recent work include co-founding FreshGrade, a learning assessment and portfolio tool that many schools have already adopted, allowing more efficient ways for parental, student and teacher engagement and progress reporting.

The chamber said its selection committee was particularly impressed by Merrifield’s leadership as he took his passion for convergence of creativity and technology, and led the charge to create the 120,000-square-foot Innovation Centre in downtown Kelowna, which opened earlier this year.

The goal was to build Canada’s most innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial technology community, which Lane has been keen on since the founding of Wheelhouse in 2013, an organization that supports early-stage technology companies and entrepreneurs to develop and grow their business.

The state-of-the-art six-storey building houses businesses ranging from two-person start-ups to large technology and innovation firms. Home of Accelerate Okanagan and Business Development Bank of Canada, it also offers space for early-stage companies, non-profits, community groups, and social enterprises.

Merrifield has served on several technology boards, the University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors and was most recently appointed to the Premier’s Technology Council. His teams have won dozens of awards including a BAFTA Award and a Webby Award. He has received an Honorary Fellows Award, several leadership awards, and was listed as one of The Hollywood Reporters Top 35 executives under the age of 35.

Merrifield will receive award from the chamber October. 12 during the annual Business Excellence Awards gala at the Delta Grand Hotel.