The Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee (ARIAC) works with key innovation support agencies, publicly funded post-secondary institutions, industry and government to advance research and innovation in the province and make Alberta more competitive in the global economy.

The Committee provides strategic advice and recommendations to the Government of Alberta through the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism on matters such as:

  • identifying leading research areas and innovation policies that will support the diversification of Alberta's economy
  • providing the Minister with regular reviews and reports on the performance of Alberta's research and innovation system
  • making recommendations to increase Alberta's competitiveness
  • exploring, gathering and synthesizing information on best practices in other jurisdictions
  • utilizing benchmarking strategies to assess the status and progress of Alberta's research and innovation system
  • identifying emerging global science, research, technology and innovation trends of greatest impact to Alberta


Governance documents:

Reporting documents:

Committee members

The Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee comprises international research, innovation and business leaders.

  • Heather Culbert

    Heather Culbert, Chair

    Ms. Heather Culbert has more than 27 years of experience in the oil and gas sector and was a senior vice president at Enerplus, a mid-sized oil and gas company.

    She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Export Development Canada and is a director on the Board of Whitecap Resources Inc., serves as Chair of the United Way World Leadership Council, and is a member of the She Leads Economic Council of Alberta. Ms. Culbert is an Ex Officio member of the Board of United Way Calgary and area, and founded the Women on Boards initiative in Calgary. She recently completed two terms as Chair of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

    As an active volunteer and philanthropist for many years, Ms. Culbert was a trustee of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, founder of Concerned Citizens for the Calgary Cancer Centre, Board Chair of the Alliance to End Violence, and Campaign Chair of the SAIT Promising Futures Campaign. Ms. Culbert was awarded the Governor General’s Sovereign Volunteerism Medal and was appointed a presiding judge for Canadian citizenship ceremonies. She has received numerous other awards including the BMO Celebrating Women Community and Charitable Giving.

  • Chris Shipley

    Chris Shipley, Vice-chair

    Ms. Chris Shipley is an author, consultant and technology analyst with experience in analyzing emerging technology companies around the world, and producing large scale events to examine current issues and future trends related to innovation. As co-founder and Chairman of Guidewire Group, she partnered with industry and government agencies responsible for innovation to develop programs to mentor start-up companies across multiple sectors. She produced DEMO Conferences and InnovateEurope, both large-scale international conferences bringing together IT investors, entrepreneurs, executives, and the media to showcase technology innovation and trends. Ms. Shipley has dedicated her career to bringing diverse industry leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs together to advance innovation. She serves on the boards and is an advisor to several innovative startup ventures. She is committed to leveraging her expertise and network into positive initiatives in economic development and social enterprise. Currently, she is writing a book which examines the impact of automation, robotics and the sharing economy on the future of work in the global economy. She resides in Silicon Valley, California.

  • Helena Acheson

    Helena Acheson

    Ms. Helena Acheson has 30 years of professional experience in national and regional economic and enterprise development organizations. She is recently retired from her role as Head of Division, Cultural and Creative Industries and Services for the MFG Public Innovation Agency, a state funded enterprise created by the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany to advance innovation. She specializes in interpreting future trends in technology as a basis for prioritising public investments in science and innovation and, has an advanced understanding of best practices in policy development across multiple jurisdictions in the European Union and internationally. She is a former member of ARIAC and also is a board member for Bilat USA 4.0, which serves to enhance research and innovation cooperation between the EU and United States. She resides in Germany and has a strong network in the EU countries.

  • Topaz Conway

    Topaz Conway

    Ms. Topaz Conway has extensive experience in the United States and Australia across the innovation spectrum based on her career as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, executive, and public policy expert. Her current work as an advisor with Accelerating Commercialization, the Australian government’s agency that grants funding to early stage companies with scalable technologies, primarily in ITC, health and medical devices, provides her with deep insight into the innovation strategies of a transitioning economy. Ms. Conway is a member of several boards and is also the Chair of SBE Australia, a not-for-profit organisation supporting women in technology access investment capital and mentoring through their Springboard Accelerator Program. She also serves as Chair of StartupAus, and Director of Cicada Innovations, a deep tech incubator for Australian research and development. In 2015, she was named one of Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs. She currently resides in New South Wales, Australia.

  • Kashmir Gill

    Kashmir Gill

    Dr. Kashmir Gill recently retired from the federal government, serving for the last 11 years as Regional Director of the National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program for central and northern Alberta and Northwest Territories. His current role is President and CEO of NuTEC Corporation, a start-up company providing mentorship, opportunity assessment and strategic advice on technology commercialization and capital access strategies to entrepreneurs and enterprises, focused on companies with international collaboration. Dr. Gill has over 30 years of public and private sector experience in research, technology, innovation and commercialization and has worked with many of the stakeholders of Alberta’s innovation system. He is co-inventor on five patents and is actively involved in non-profit organizations. He resides in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Lori Knowles

    Lori Knowles

    Ms. Lori Knowles is a Canadian expert in international comparative law, working as a consultant in Boston and as a professor, adjunct, at the University of Alberta School of Public Health. She has in-depth knowledge of the regulatory regimes in medicine, science and health care from several EU countries, the U.K. and the U.S. Her extensive areas of sector expertise include life sciences, stem cell research, biotechnology, health care and forestry. Ms. Knowles is knowledgeable in the regulatory environment of precision medicine in other countries and has access to a global network of best practices. She is also the Chair of the Institute of Forest Biosciences (IFB), a U.S. and Canadian-based organization that promotes the responsible use of innovation and technology to advance the forestry sector. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Anil Pereira

    Anil Pereira

    Mr. Anil Pereira is a high technology executive and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, CA. He has significant experience in marketing, new product development, corporate development, startup financing and governance and currently advises a range of high growth companies around the world including Blueshift, Felix & Paul Studios, Performance Horizon, Prattle, Pursuit, RecargaPay and Tynker. Mr. Pereira has served on 10 private company boards, has advised over 25 companies, has founded two startups and previously served as an executive at VeriSign and American Express.  He holds a Bachelor of Management (with Great Distinction) from the University of Lethbridge where he currently serves as Executive in Residence in the Faculty of Management and as a senior advisor to the AGILITY innovation program. He also holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Andrew Powell

    Andrew Powell

    Dr. Andrew Powell is the CEO of Asia BioBusiness Pte. Ltd., which advances the bio-based business agendas of clients from both the public and private sector, and advises on risk management strategies, with a special focus on regulatory, technology, and market risks. He is also a risk communication practitioner and has worked on projects in three continents.

    Since graduating from the University of Calgary Dr. Powell has held positions at the University of Guelph, the National Institute of Human Sciences in Japan, and the National University of Singapore. He has worked as a consultant since 1995 and founded Asia BioBusiness in 2005. His Canadian clients have included the Canadian Government, the CIDA-funded Canada ASEAN Center, Life Science Association of Manitoba, AGRIUM and various SMEs in the life science sector. He is a regular speaker at conferences in Canada, speaking on agricultural biotechnology and risk communication.

    Dr. Powell serves on the board of the Rice Bowl Index which measures the robustness of food security systems, and Scientific American’s WorldView Report. Dr. Powell’s network is extensive and covers Canada, USA, Central and South America, Asia, Australasia and Europe. He resides in Singapore.

  • Erasmus Okine

    Erasmus Okine

    Dr. Erasmus Okine is the Vice-President (Research) at the University of Lethbridge. The impact of his research which is focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gases and increasing the efficiency and productivity of livestock has resulted in deep connections with industry in Alberta, Canada and internationally. He has mentored over 30 PhD and MSc students and educated hundreds of undergraduate students in his career. He was the lead in the development of CowBytes, an innovative nutrition and ration balancing and decision making tool for producers and students, used worldwide. He is the author of more than:140 scientific articles, 100 extension articles, 150 abstracts and several book chapters. For his leadership in Agricultural Research, Dr. Okine has received several awards including the Alberta Premier’s Silver Award for Excellence, Fellowships of the Canadian Society of Animal Science, and the International College of Nutrition, and the Canadian Society of Animal Science Industry Award in Extension and Public Service. He is a past President of the Canadian Society of Animal Science and has been Associate Editor of various journals including the American Journal of Animal Science. He and his wife Dr. Christine Murray reside in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Compensation disclosure

Public sector bodies are required to post online the names and compensation paid to:

This disclosure is a requirement under the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act. The postings are required by June 30 each year and will be maintained for 5 years.


Main office

4th floor, Phipps-McKinnon Building
10020 101 A Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta

ARIAC Secretariat

Jutta Rohrschach
Senior Director, Strategic Integration
Phone: 780-422-2835
Email: jutta.rohrschach@gov.ab.ca

For general enquiries: