Accelerate Okanagan CEO Raghwa Gopal and Central Okanagan Econonomic Development Commission executive director Corie Griffith discuss a study released last year that showed the growing tech sector is worth $1.67 billion to the regional economy. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Accelerate Okanagan CEO stepping down

Raghwa Gopal is leaving to head up InnovateBC

Accelerate Okanagan is looking for a new CEO.

After 3 1/2 years leading the Kelowna-based support organization for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in the tech sector, Raghwa Gopal has announced he is stepping down as CEO, effective Feb. 15.

“I am very proud of what AO has accomplished in the last three years,” said Gopal. “We passionately pursued and expanded the interests of the organization and brought value to technology entrepreneurs locally, provincially, and nationally. I am convinced that AO will continue to be an increasingly strong force in the technology industry and will bring more innovative ideas and create pioneering programs for our entrepreneurs nationwide.”

Gopal, 60, is leaving Accelerate Okanagan to take on a provincial role as president and CEO of InnovateBC.

“I am thrilled to be taking on the leadership of Innovate BC at this exciting time for our province’s innovation economy, where technology is everywhere, in every industry, and enhancing lives and creating business value across B.C and globally,” he said.

His new position—one in which he beat out 254 international candidate for the job—will require Gopal to move to Vancouver.

He said he is leaving the Okanagan with a sense of pride and satisfaction with what he was able to accomplish.

The tech sector is worth and estimated $1.67 billion to the regional economy and employs more than 12,000 people.

“I am leaving behind a sustainable organization that will continue to have forward momentum and provide services to emerging entrepreneurs,” he said, adding he is also also very proud that both the provincial and federal governments for their support of the tech industry in the Okanagan over the last 3 1/2 years.

“We have also had a tremendous impact on the local community. Over the last 3 1/2 years, our community has benefited with over $20 million in investment, both from government and private sectors —this is incredible impact,” he said.

Gopal, a former tech business owner himself, is also a teacher and mentor to other entrepreneurs.

A native of Fiji, he moved to Canada in 1979, went to work for a computer software business that he eventually bought, and sold, and has been recognized for his business work and volunteerism.

In 2016 he was named Kelowna’s Man of the Year.

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