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This article was published 2/1/2019 (1017 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
North Forge Technology Exchange is about to enter into a new relationship with the province to provide support and direct the province's innovation strategies as they relate to economic development and it will do so with a new president at the helm.
Teresa Dukes, a 21-year-veteran of the provincial civil service most recently as senior adviser on strategic innovation for the deputy minister of Education and Training, has been named general manager and interim president of North Forge.
She'll take over from outgoing president Jeff Ryzner at the end of this month.
Formed 2 1/2 years ago with the merger of the Eureka project with AssentWorks and the RampUp Manitoba/Startup Winnipeg groups, North Forge has become the go-to innovation-based economic development agency to provide mentorship, training and support for entrepreneurs.
The organization's clients and member companies have access to facilities that include the former Eureka incubator's facilities in Smartpark at the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus, two floors of an office building on McDermot Avenue and the former AssentWorks on Adelaide Street, the largest such fabrication lab in the country. There are also satellite operations in Pinawa and Morden.
"We are thrilled that Teresa has joined North Forge. Teresa is bringing to the table years of innovation leadership and administration experience as well as a fresh perspective on the opportunities before us," said Stuart Henrickson, North Forge's board chairman. "She is coming to North Forge at a great time to sustainably grow our innovation-based economic development strategy."
Dukes has been connected to North Forge for some time and is known to many in that community and has attended many of the organization's events.
Ryzner was the original president of North Forge and ran Eureka project for two years prior to the merger. Under his leadership, North Forge has helped launch 89 innovation-based businesses fuelling 892 new jobs in the Manitoba economy.
He is moving over to become chief operating officer of Pricerazzi, a Winnipeg fintech company that graduated from North Forge's incubator. It has developed an e-commerce app that can source money-back opportunities for consumers through retailers' policies on lowest price guarantees.
Pricerazzi recently announced a partnership with Meridian, a large Ontario credit union and Declan McDonald, the company CEO and founder said the company has other similar relationships in the works.
"We're very lucky to have Jeff coming on board," he said.
Even though he was the face of North Forge since it was formed, Ryzner said the organization has a flat management structure such that the whole team is integral to its operation.
"Everyone who works at North Forge is a leader," Ryzner said. "The only way we have been able to accomplish the things that we have been able to do is that everyone is making decisions to forward the larger goals on a daily basis."
Melanie McKague a spokeswoman for the North Forge board, said Dukes is being named interim president until a strategic review of operation is completed.
"As we engage in the planning we will be assessing the most effective leadership structure to meet our long term goals," McKague said.
While Dukes appointment was necessitated by Ryzner's planned departure, having a long-time provincial government insider heading the organization after the province publicly announced its intention to utilize North Forge in its economic development agenda will likely benefit that relationship as it gets figured out.
"Teresa is awesome," Ryzner said. "She is no stranger to North Forge and, of course, she is well-versed in everything related to the provincial government and its innovation initiative. As North Forge partners with the province to help its innovation initiative she will be perfect for that. She speaks government better than I ever could."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.