The VentureLabs® Team


Virginia Balcom brings broad and deep marketing experience to SFU VentureLabs. For more than 20 years, Virginia has been introducing new products to enterprise customers and consumers. A strong collaborator and leader, she’s led marketing teams in many sectors, including retail, clean energy, wireless, biotech, telecom, supercomputing, and most recently, big data and healthcare. Virginia is adept at helping founders and their teams clarify and communicate their value to stakeholders, from customers to employees, influencers, and investors.

Virginia has established a successful track record at a variety of companies, from start-ups to industry heavyweights. She was a key member of Abatis Systems, the Vancouver startup that made IP consumable and was acquired by Redback. Following Abatis, Virginia successfully positioned OctigaBay’s products as accessible supercomputers. When OctigaBay was acquired by Cray, Virginia led rebranding of the supercomputing giant, bringing three new products to market that year. Virginia went on to lead brand-building at another industry leader, Sierra Wireless, after Sierra acquired Wavecom and brought Wavecom’s M2M products under the Sierra Wireless banner. She gained Strangeloop recognition for their web performance product and positioned LightHaus in retail analytics. Most recently, Virginia led Marketing at PHEMI Systems, positioning PHEMI as an innovator in big data management and gaining recognition from Gartner as a Cool Vendor in healthcare and from Forrester in their Big Data Warehouse Wave.

Virginia holds an Engineering Degree from the University of British Columbia.

Ian Hand - Executive Director

Ian is the founding Executive Director of VentureLabs® and Simon Fraser University’s Business Acceleration and Innovation Networks Office, a cofounder of the Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC), a Director of  Zone Startups India, and CEO of SF Univentures Corporation. Ian is  a champion for innovation, entrepreneurship and business incubation in BC. As a repeat entrepreneur, investor, director and advisor to technology businesses, Ian has worked with technology firms around the world in the digital technology, communications, media & entertainment, health technologies, advanced materials and energy sectors.

He served as a managing partner at two private investment firms with responsibilities for investments, mergers and acquisitions, and divestitures, structuring more than $875 million in equity and debt financings. As a professor of industry and professional practice, Ian teaches entrepreneurship, corporate and applied finance and other topics at leading Universities across BC, Canada and internationally. He is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC, the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation and the National Business Incubator Association. 

James Derbyshire - Executive-in-Residence

Jim Derbyshire has international serial entrepreneurial experience including 18 years of CEO experience and a track record of growing innovative, leading-edge start-ups using bootstrap, Angel and Angel/VC backed business models. In the last 12 years, Jim has raised over $100M of funding and been involved in several acquisitions, three of which he managed. Jim has non-executive and chairman experience on boards of high tech start-ups as well as in business appraisal for venture capitalists, large companies and government development agencies.

This combines a broad understanding of IT, web, wireless and video technology markets and industries together with a strong knowledge of the organization of start-ups. Jim built a large number of successful business partnerships in Asia, Europe, and North America with major companies. Jim applies his industry knowledge to wireless, digital video, Internet, EDA and semiconductor businesses using experience gained from four successful exited start-ups. He is a Mentor In-Residence with SFU’s Venture Connection student entrepreneurship program and was named a top ten ‘Rockstar” mentor by Startup Canada.

John Seminerio - Executive-in-Residence

John Seminerio is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the Managing Partner of Magellan Angel Partners,  an innovative “Mentor Capital” approach to Angel Investing in the high-tech community. He is a co-founding Limited Partner of Yaletown Venture Partners, an early stage Venture Capital group focused on high-tech companies in Western Canada. John has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications, networking, and high-performance computing industries, and has held leadership roles in the sales, marketing, and business development aspects of several early phase companies. 

In 2013, John co-founded his latest venture, PHEMI Systems Corporation, a big data platform company, where he is currently the Board Chair. John also co-founded OctigaBay Systems, where he held positions as the Chairman, President, and CEO; OctigaBay closed the largest seed financing in Canadian history of over $24 million CDN in December 2002. Only 14 months after financing, OctigaBay was acquired for over $155 million by Cray Canada Inc., the world leader in Supercomputer systems. Previous to OctigaBay, John was the President and CEO of Abatis Systems Corporation, a high-tech telecommunications vendor that was acquired by Redback Networks of San Jose, California for $1.3 billion; following the acquisition, John was VP of Business Development for Redback Networks. 

John’s depth of professional experience is supplemented by a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and an honours Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. In 2004, John was named “Person of the Year” by the British Columbia Technology Industries Association (BCTIA) for his continued entrepreneurial achievements. 


Pat has over two decades experience financing and building innovative companies. He recently joined Genome BC to head their new Industry Innovation Program to support life science technology commercialization. Previously, he was a venture investment professional for 18 years with Growthworks Capital Ltd., a venture capital fund that managed over $1 billion in assets. As an institutional investor, Pat led or participated in over $600M of equity and debt financings. He has served on numerous Boards as a director or observer, including: Boreal Genomics, Celator Technologies, Inetco Systems Ltd., MSI Methylation Sciences, Inc, Neuromed Pharmaceuticals, OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Protiva Biotherapeutics and Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Prior to joining Growthworks in 1998, Pat worked at Inex Pharmaceuticals (now Arbutus BioPharma) and DynaMotive Technologies Corp. in financial and corporate development capacities.

Pat’s expansive Board and operating roles contributed to an in-depth skillset in: strategic planning, finance, deal structuring, project management, business development, HR and governance.

Pat holds an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and was a former professional athlete. He is an active expert panel participant for the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada (NCE-CECR). Pat is a past director of the Life Sciences BC Association.


Shannon Byrne Susko has been working with CEOs, Boards, executive teams, and individuals who want to grow, both personally and professionally, for over 14 years. Shannon is a serial tech entrepreneur who implemented the Rockefeller Habits to scale up her various firms which she built and successfully exited. She has since written her own book, The Metronome Effect, on the topic and keynotes audiences to rave reviews.

Shannon has been recognized for the following awards: BIV/ACG Vancouver 2011 Deal Maker of the Year, Report on Business Magazine’s Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™ Award 2000, 2006 recipient of the Sarah Kirke Award for Canada’s Leading Women High Tech Entrepreneur,YWCA Vancouver Women of Distinction – Entrepreneurship Nominee 2013 & Technology Nominee 2012, 2012 – ACG New York Champion’s Award – Middle-Market Deal of the Year – Finalist, BC TIA Best Application of Technology Award 2001 and 2011, BC Export Award for Best New Exporter 2002, Influential Women of the Year 2001, presented by Business in Vancouver, Wired Women of the Year 2003 and CEO of the Year, presented by FWE Northwest.

She is a member of the following Board of Director’s and advisory committees: British Columbia Automobile Association and ATB Financial. Former member of the following Boards: Paradata Systems Inc, Subserveo Inc, Capilano University, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation; President –; Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Telus Whistler Pacific Sport Centre; Forum for Women Entrepreneurs – Founding Board Member; BCTIA TIA Awards Chair; BC Premier’s Technology Council; ACETECH, BC Luge and Norsat International and Electronic Transactions Association President’s Advisory Committee. She holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science degrees from Saint Mary’s University and a Masters of Computer Science degree from Technical University of Nova Scotia. In the fall of 2012, she recently received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. Shannon is married, resides in Whistler, BC, and has 3 children.