The hunt has officially begun for Innovacorp’s CEO.

The Nova Scotia innovation agency announced Friday that the provincial government has assigned Wilson Executive Search to find the successor to Clifford Gross, who left the position in February after holding it for about one year.

The new boss at 1801 Hollis Street will have considerable success to build on and will also inherit an agency that is at a bit of a crossroads. The success comes first from a successful exit, having earned an estimated 10 times its investment in a year when GoInstant of Halifax sold out to And second, it has invested recently in a slew of fascinating companies. It’s held two successful competitions – I-3 and the CleanTech Open – in the past year.  

People in or close to the organization say the search committee this time will stress two things: first, they want to be sure the successful candidate will stick around for a few years; and second, they would like to find someone who can extend the organization’s network of national and international connections.

Many of Innovacorp’s portfolio companies have reached a stage at which they need more capital than they can find in the region. And virtually all are selling in the global marketplace. Innovacorp is developing a more international network to help them with their global expansion and financing.

Since Gross departed earlier this year, the CEO position has been handled on an interim basis by Chair Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, who is also Professor of Organizational Management and Strategy at Cape Breton University in Sydney. Her most impressive achievement has been to guide the negotiations on the regional venture capital fund through to an announcement that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island will launch the fund soon.

Yet there is also a large vacancy emerging in Innovacorp’s upper management because of that announcement. The highly respected head of investment Patrick Keefe will soon be departing to head the regional VC fund.

In Keefe’s absence, Innovacorp is changing the duties of Charles Baxter, the Vice-President of Finance and IT so he will become the VP of Finance and Investment. The thinking is that Baxter has signed off on all the deals Innovacorp has done recently and is therefore familiar with the brief.

The agency has two Directors of Investment, Thomas Rankin and Gregg Phipps, though the latter is on loan to portfolio company Livelenz for the next few months.

[Innovacorp is a sponsor of Entrevestor]