Taking in the role

Mario Escoto Damas attended the RBC Innovation Awards at the Victoria Inn last week, which was his first large event in his new position as executive director of the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre.

Mario Escoto Damas has hit the ground running in his new position as the executive director of the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre.

During his first week on the job, Damas had the task of hosting the 13th annual RBC Innovation Awards, which took place last Thursday. With several projects in place, his sleeves are rolled up and he’s ready for action.

“My goals are to continue promoting entrepreneurship and innovation as a pillar for prosperity and economic development,” he said. “I want to continue with projects to bring high-speed internet to the most remote communities in Northern Ontario for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation here in Northern Ontario.”

Damas says he is ready for the challenge to promote entrepreneurship among students and find ways to keep their talent in Thunder Bay by creating new jobs and opportunities.

“I have an amazing team that has a lot of achievements over the years so I think it’s a great match,” he said. “I have been able to work with the previous executive director who was a tremendous coach and I really think we are going to make great things happen for the northern communities.”

Damas was born and raised in Honduras and came to Canada a few years ago, settling in Kitchener before coming to Thunder Bay. His family is still in Kitchener and will be coming to join him in a few weeks.

He says southern Ontario is busier with entrepreneurship, which provided many opportunities to be involved in events like the Thunder Bay innovation awards event.

“This is the first event for me as an executive director of a non-profit organization that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation,” he said. “I think this is a great opportunity to showcase the great things that are happening in the entrepreneurship ecosystem here in the North.”

Damas said he has been involved in business accelerators and incubators in several capacities and has had the opportunity to be a mentor and advisor in several incubators in Canada, Latin America and the United States.

“My background is in entrepreneurship and I own businesses with my family in Honduras, the U.S. and in Canada,” he said.

“My goal, or the next professional step in my career, was to try to focus more on what I really like to do and what I find more rewarding, which is helping new entrepreneurs and to promote entrepreneurship as a pillar for prosperity.”