May 13, 2021
Human ingenuity is the engine of the new economy, says Distinguished Business Leader Award recipient
“I am hugely optimistic about our future,” says Dr. Chen Fong, CM, MD, FACR, who will receive the Haskayne School of Business and Calgary Chamber’s 2021 Distinguished Business Leader Award on June 17.
“We are certainly facing a substantial an existential threat to our economy right now, but that’s what it takes to get people to act,” he says. “There's a whole world of business opportunities out there. The resource industry has creative people who are innovating to create greener alternatives. There are areas where young people are using their brains to create whole new product lines and industries.
We can use human resources as well as natural resources to fuel the new economy.
Having invested in and mentored over 60 startups, Fong is uniquely positioned to see the glass as more than just half full.
After a successful career as a radiologist at the Foothills Hospital and the University of Calgary, he turned his passion in investing to a vocation. He helped to build Ultrasonix Medical Corporation, which was sold in 2012 and he is the co-founder of Pureweb Inc. Fong has since helped 11 groups to turn university-based intellectual properties into successful companies.
“We are pleased to recognize Dr. Fong’s outstanding achievements,” says Brent Cooper, Calgary Chamber of Commerce board chair. “By creating a community of innovators and helping them launch successful companies, Dr. Fong’s work has created a ripple effect, making a tremendous impact in our economy.”
Creative Destruction Labs created a platform
In 2015, Fong joined the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) at the University of Toronto as a Fellow. The mandate of the CDL is to commercialize science to benefit all mankind. CDL mentors help science and technology-based companies to rapidly achieve objectives to validate their product and scale their venture.
He is widely credited with launching CDL-Rockies at Haskayne, bringing together seasoned business leaders from Alberta, Canada and the U.S. to grow budding companies. Fong is now the co-chair of the Global CDL Strategic Board and Honorary Founding Fellow, CDL Rockies.
“Chen is an outstanding connector who prefers to make others shine rather than taking the spotlight himself,” says Dr. Jim Dewald, dean, Haskayne School of Business. “CDL has been a platform for Chen to use his medical innovation knowledge, entrepreneurial mindset and deep connections to foster a whole new generation of ventures.”
Fong was invested into the Order of Canada in 2017 for his contributions to medical technology innovation and philanthropy. He has been inducted as a laureate of the Alberta Business Hall of Fame and is a University of Calgary honorary degree recipient.
Creating a culture of giving back
Fong sees CDL as a force that unites community in the common goal of accelerating the creation of new business. By bringing together startup incubators, business angels and venture capitalists in one place, CDL gets all players devoting their resources to scaling new ventures.
Another impact of CDL is how it engages seasoned business leaders in the mentorship of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“We have so many people now in the baby boomer generation who have so much experience and are now in the late stage of their own career,” says Fong of the Mentors and Fellows mobilized in the CDL. “Suddenly they figure out this new way to give back. So instead of people going to retirement they are a part of creating this culture of giving back to young people.”
Unique award gala
Fong will become the 28th recipient of the Distinguished Business Leader Award, which recognizes ethical leadership, career success and community service. The gala will be as unique as its recipient. The online format will bring together attendees from across Canada, Asia and Europe. Taking the spotlight will be four ventures that Fong has mentored or successfully helped to pivot.
The annual celebration raises money for the Distinguished Business Leaders Scholarship Endowment and Fong, in keeping with his driven style, is determined to exceed previous fundraising goals and has started with his own $100,000 contribution.
The gala is co-presented by Haskayne and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, with support from gala partner Calgary Foundation. Tickets for the June 17 Distinguished Business Leader Award gala are now available free of charge for this virtual event. Donations to honour Dr. Chen Fong as our Distinguished Business Leader are encouraged, to fund scholarships for future leaders and entrepreneurs.
Donations to honour Dr. Chen Fong as our Distinguished Business Leader are encouraged to fund scholarships for future leaders and entrepreneurs.