Activate Welcomes Cyrus Wadia as New Chief Executive Officer
Activate, a leader in science innovation, is excited to announce that Cyrus Wadia has been appointed as the new chief executive officer, effective October 16, 2023. Activate transforms scientists into high-impact entrepreneurs through the Activate Fellowship, a two-year immersive experience that equips science entrepreneurs with the skills, networks, infrastructure, and funding they need to quickly and effectively bring their groundbreaking research to market.
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Activate CEO Cyrus Wadia (Photo: Business Wire)
"Wadia personifies so much of what Activate is about," says Activate's founder and former CEO, Ilan Gur, who now heads ARIA, the UK's multibillion-dollar innovation agency. "He is impact-driven, entrepreneurial, and cares deeply about people, family, and community. He's one of the few people on the planet that I'd be proud and excited to have lead the next phase of what we started."
Leveraging his executive experience in both the public and private sectors, Wadia will oversee Activate's expansion and help the organization deliver impact at scale. Most recently, he was director of worldwide product sustainability at Amazon, responsible for raising sustainability standards in retail, including the launch of Amazon's first sustainable shopping program. Previously, Wadia was vice president of sustainable business & innovation at Nike. He also served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama as assistant director of clean energy and materias R&D, responsible for mobilizing over $1 billion toward cutting-edge materials science and innovation.
As a scientist himself with an M.S. in chemical engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in energy and resources from UC Berkeley, Wadia knows firsthand the challenges that scientists face when trying to apply their research.
"I'm thrilled to join this incredible team at such an exciting moment for the organization. Because of Activate, scientists are designing new products, accelerating the creation of new businesses, and becoming leaders who will transform our future," Wadia said. "I look forward to building on this momentum to expand the role science leadership plays in solving society's most pressing issues."
In just eight years, Activate has grown from a team of four to nearly 50, established five communities across the country, created a thriving national science innovation network, supported over 188 fellows, and catalyzed 145 science-based startups that have raised nearly $1.4 billion collectively and created over 1,900 jobs. Most importantly, Activate Fellows have emerged as global leaders, accelerating the invention and deployment of solutions to the world's most pressing problems.
"Activate has transformed into one of the most impactful science innovation communities in the world in less than a decade," says Activate board chair Liesl Schindler. "The extraordinary people and culture of Activate give us nothing but confidence as we transition into the organization's next phase of growth-with Cyrus Wadia now at the helm."
Activate interim CEO Todd Johnson, who stepped into the role to help Activate grow over the past year, will officially step down and return to his role on Activate's board of directors on October 15.
Founded in 2015, Activate empowers scientists to reinvent the world by launching startups to address climate change and other global challenges. Working between government, philanthropy, universities, and the private sector, Activate transforms scientists into high-impact entrepreneurs through the Activate Fellowship, a two-year immersive experience that equips science entrepreneurs with the skills, networks, infrastructure, and funding they need to quickly and effectively bring their groundbreaking research to market. Activate is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not charge any fee or equity for fellows to participate. Activate's entrepreneurial fellowship model originated at Cyclotron Road, the first U.S. Department of Energy Lab Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) started at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the founding Activate partner. Activate supports fellows in communities across the United States: Activate Berkeley, Activate Boston, Activate New York, Activate Houston, and Activate Anywhere. Learn more at Activate.org.
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