Announcing York’s new assistant vice-president innovation and research partnerships

Featured image shows Keele Campus as viewed by a drone

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to share with the York University community that Jennifer MacLean has accepted the position of assistant vice-president innovation and research partnerships, effective July 27.

Jennifer MacLean
Jennifer MacLean

A thought leader with 10 years of experience working in the Canadian innovation ecosystem, Jennifer has extensive experience in fostering impactful and collaborative partnerships across industry, academia and community partners in Ontario and Canada.

She has played a prominent role in facilitating large industry-academic collaborations with partners such as IBM Canada, diversifying the talent pipeline to support the development of thousands of highly-qualified professionals; and is considered a pioneer in developing critical programs and initiatives to support the economic, social and cultural growth of Canadian companies and communities.

I look forward to welcoming her to the York community, where she will join the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation team and lead York’s innovation activities, develop York’s innovation strategy and build key partnerships with stakeholders to advance the University’s research priorities, in alignment with the University Academic Plan 2020-2025 and Strategic Research Plan. She will enhance the reputation of innovation at York by providing world-class support to researchers and growing York’s stakeholder network through national and international partnerships within the context of innovation, commercialization, entrepreneurship and knowledge mobilization activities.

Prior to joining York, Jennifer served as the vice-president, research and innovation for Aspire Food Group, a Canadian scale-up that develops low-cost, high-density ethical automated food-grade protein production systems. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing and implementing an innovation strategy to support partnerships with leading academics, technology firms and not-for-profit agencies. She supported the company’s transition from start-up to scale-up, and successfully navigated unique challenges faced by private sector.

As operations manager and later executive director in 2017 of SOSCIP, an industry-academic research consortium that builds partnerships to foster industry adoption of transformative computing technologies, Jennifer successfully managed over 120 industry-academic research collaborations in Ontario and led a multimillion-dollar provincial funding renewal to support SOSCIP’s growth and continuation.

As director, collaborations at NGen, Canada’s advanced manufacturing supercluster, she was critical in establishing $50 million in funding support for the launch of the COVID-19 response program, which catalyzed the development of Canadian-manufactured ventilators and N95 masks and other essential equipment.

Working with Mitacs, Jennifer developed the Converge program, a national funding program aimed at supporting Canadian small business growth through partnerships with multinational firms and academic partners.

Jennifer received her PhD in Medical Biophysics from Western University, London, Ontario. Her expertise in facilitating meaningful and large-scale partnerships and her dedication and passion for supporting inclusive, equitable and sustainable partnerships that benefit diverse communities and groups will make her an asset for York. I look forward to working with Jennifer MacLean in the coming years and I invite the University community to join me in congratulating her as she embarks on this important role in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

Amir Asif
Vice-President Research and Innovation