New Brunswick gets entrepreneur-in-residence David Alston


The province of New Brunswick has named its first entrepreneur-in-residence in veteran tech entrepreneur David Alston.

It sounds a clear message that the province’s government wants to speed up new thinking within bureaucracy. It’s an unpaid, voluntary position that will see the Fredericton resident bring entrepreneurial thinking to help government departments solve problems.

According to huddle.today, Alston was a key architect of one of New Brunswick’s top technology success stories, the social media monitoring pioneer Radian6 which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011 for north of $300 million.

After a stint with Salesforce, Alston became part of several startups, including Fredericton-based Introhive. He’s also advocated for innovation and teaching coding in New Brunswick’s “lagging education system.” As well, he also volunteered as part of the provincial government’s Strategic Program Review committee before last year’s budget.

“For me this role is really an extension of what I have been doing over the past couple of years,” Alston told Huddle.

“I wouldn’t accept this role if I knew there wasn’t an open door to accept it at every level,” Alston told the Chronicle Herald’s Peter Moreira. “I literally sometimes think, ‘Wow, I’m sitting down chatting with people about ideas and they’re getting it.’ I’ve seen far more openness to this type of thinking than I’ve found people being closed-minded to it.”

In a statement Sunday, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said Alston will operate within the cabinet office to provide leadership and innovative practices. The goal eventually will be to have entrepreneurs-in-residence in each department.

“Making government more innovative and efficient is essential to advancing New Brunswickers’ priorities of economic growth, education and health care,” said Gallant, the province’s minister responsible for innovation. “By appointing David as chief entrepreneur-in-residence, we are harnessing his experience and know-how to foster innovation, inside and outside of government.”

“I see a future where the pace of innovation within government catches up the pace of innovation outside of it,” Alston told huddle.today.

“Governments at all levels recognize that innovation and entrepreneurship are key to a thriving economy. I see models in place where active and passionate citizen problem-solvers play more of a role in tackling some of our social problems in collaboration with our civil service.”

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