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Apr 14, 2021

Meet Your Board of Directors: Derek Gratz

Get to know the Kelowna Chamber Board of Directors. This bi-weekly update will introduce you to the people behind-the-scenes at the Chamber, and learn what they love about serving our business community. This week we want to introduce you to Derek Gratz, a wonderful member of our Board of Directors.  If you would like to learn more about getting involved through our Ambassador program and get involved please EMAIL US.

DEREK GRATZ University of British Columbia, Okanagan

What is your position / title and company, and what do you do there?
I am the Associate Director of UBC Okanagan’s University Industry Liaison Office (UILO). I manage new innovations and intellectual property that result from research at the Okanagan campus of UBC, licensing them both to existing companies as well as into new start-ups that we help create and support through our incubator and mentor network. I also facilitate and structure research contracts for companies and government agencies who want to invest to support research projects at UBC in areas related to their product / future interests.  Across both campuses (Vancouver and Kelowna) UBC conducts over $680M in research each year. UBCO’s portion has grown to over $34M last year. This is a huge opportunity for companies to connect with our researchers, and their innovations, to commercialize these new ideas into new products.
How long have you been in the Okanagan? If you aren’t originally from the valley, what led you to call the Okanagan ‘home’? 
After working in this technology transfer sector at both University of Alberta and Red Deer College, and also running a western Canadian commercialization network - I moved from Calgary ten years ago to take the position with UBC. I grew up in rural Alberta, and studied Industrial Product Design in Pasadena, CA and then back to Calgary for my graduate degree. Our family loves the Okanagan and have felt at home since we arrived.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a Director on the Board with the Kelowna Chamber?
Building connections with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, and being part of Kelowna as it diversifies its economy and grows an increasingly vibrant community.
What are you looking forward to / planning for the future?
Helping UBC Okanagan and the community as both hit a great inflection point of growth and innovation. On top of continued growth of our teaching and research programs, UBCO will open both a world class Innovation Precinct on the Okanagan campus by the airport, and a vibrant downtown campus in the next few years. The opportunities for the community to collaborate with UBC and Okanagan College as the region’s lead academic institutions are almost unlimited.