l-r: Marilyn Sanford, founder and CEO of LincEdge, Ian Hand, executive director of VentureLabs, Jia Chen, founder and CEO of Talentful, Jim Derbyshire, entrepreneur-in-residence at VentureLabs and mentor-in-residence at Venture Connection, Eddie Hung, director of R&D at Invionics Software, and Pook-Ping Yao, founder and CEO of Optigo Networks. The company founders are some of Derbyshire’s many mentees.


Jim Derbyshire awarded 2017 SFU Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award

August 15, 2017

By Diane Luckow

Over the past eight years serial entrepreneur Jim Derbyshire has shared a lifetime of international business acumen with scores of SFU student, faculty and alumni entrepreneurs.

As founding program director and mentor-in-residence for SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection he helped establish the business incubator’s student entrepreneurship program in 2009. More recently he helped develop VentureLabs, a business accelerator for established entrepreneurs.

To recognize Derbyshire’s exceptional work and commitment, the University is presenting him with its 2017 SFU Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award.

“Jim Derbyshire’s passion, business expertise and generosity in sharing his time have been invaluable to the success of the Venture Connection and VentureLabs programs, and to the entrepreneurs who participate,” says SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini.

“Thanks to his programming vision and design, Venture Connection has inspired and trained more than 6,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, and mentored 500 student teams, and there are many more to come.”

Originally an electronics engineer, Derbyshire has spent 43 years in the global information technology, semiconductor and communications industries, where his career path diverged from engineering to management to serial entrepreneur.

He founded and grew five start-ups into highly successful companies before selling them, and established numerous profitable business partnerships with major companies in Asia, Europe and North America. Today, he is an angel investor, mentor and board member to a variety of high-tech companies, many of them started by SFU students, faculty or alumni.

Derbyshire’s many student mentees include Milun Tesovic, of MetroLyrics, a music lyrics website acquired by CBS Interactive; Terry Beech, of HiretheWorld, who is now a federal MP; Matias Marquez, COO of Buyatab, a recognized global leader in electronic gift solutions; and Ben Britton, CEO of Ionomr. This high-growth SFU spinout venture features a new product that could revolutionize next-generation green technology.

In addition to helping successful entrepreneurs with their business issues, Derbyshire says much of his contribution has been helping students to understand what entrepreneurship practically entails, and whether or not entrepreneurship is really for them.

“I’m very pleased that Venture Connection and VentureLabs have helped so many students and others,” says Derbyshire. “I enjoy listening to my mentees as they describe their goals and, years later, seeing their achievements. When I feel that in a small way I have helped make it happen for them, that’s my payback.”