Masters, Mr. John

2012 Finalist: Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community

Visionary Leader Leaves Legacy

Mr. John Masters has left an indelible legacy of achievement and potential on Calgary’s science and technology landscape over his more than 30 years as a visionary advocate, community leader and roll-your-sleeves-up team player.

His accomplishments can be seen through Innovate Calgary, a pivotal organization in Alberta’s technology sector, which offers technology transfer and business incubator services to researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses in the advanced technology sector.

Mr. Masters led the collaboration with the University of Calgary, City of Calgary and Government of Alberta that resulted in merging the university’s technology transfer organization and Calgary Technologies Inc. under the banner of Innovate Calgary.

“Innovate Calgary’s primary goal is stimulate wealth creation and economic diversification,” Mr. Masters says. “We need to invest significant financial resources in technology commercialization and seek a return on the ever-growing investments the public sector has made in research and development.”

More testimony of his contributions is the Alastair Ross Technology Centre, for which Mr. Master led the design and development and raised capital funding. The technology incubator at University Research Park provides programs and services to over 400 clients per year, providing office, laboratory and technology prototype space to 40 tenants and 60 virtual clients.

Mr. Masters follows in the footsteps of Alastair Ross, the founder of Calgary Technologies, who inspired him. “Alastair had a vision to diversify our resource-based economy by growing the advanced technology sector in Calgary,” Mr. Masters says. “By helping early-stage technology companies and entrepreneurs, we increase their probability of success and help the economy become more diversified.”

Mr. Masters understands the immediate and long-term impacts of those contributions, but he counts as his greatest accomplishment his work with the not-for-profit sector.

“I managed to land a $10-million Smart Communities project in the early 2000s,” he says. Mr. Masters led the bid that won an open competition for Calgary’s contribution to the federal government program. His project was Connect Calgary, a forward-looking strategy to bring technology, along with useful real-world services, to Calgary’s disenfranchised populations.

“We provided technical platforms for clients in the Mustard Seed, The Calgary Homeless Shelter and the Salvation Army,” Mr. Masters says. “We gave basic access to computers and email to a group of individuals on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

In 2002 Mr. Masters and Calgary received international recognition for their leadership when the New York based Intelligent Community Forum named Calgary as the World’s Smart Community of the Year.

Mr. Masters has also volunteered extensively in the community, serving on multiple committees for the City of Calgary, SAIT, Government of Alberta, University of Calgary and the Calgary Airport Authority, to name a few. Mr. Masters co-chaired the 2009 United Way Campaign, which raised more than $50 million.

“I believe giving back to the community and to those in need is very much a responsibility,” he says. “My Dad instilled that value in me. It’s in my DNA.”
Overall, Mr. Masters has made enormous contributions to innovation and technology commercialization in Alberta. He receives much of the credit for the significant growth in the innovation activity and company development in Calgary.