Toronto-based tech hub OneEleven is in search of a new leader as managing director Matthew Lombardi steps down.
Lombardi announced his resignation in an email to OneEleven community members on Thursday, obtained by BetaKit. Without a specific date, he noted his term will end this spring.
The search for OneEleven’s next leader has begun. Angelo Casanas, OneEleven’s programming director, will assume Lombardi’s leadership duties on an interim basis.
In a statement shared with BetaKit, Lombardi said: “A huge thank you to the OneEleven community, all our member companies and their amazing teams, our advisory board, and my fellow OCI and OneEleven staff.”
“It’s been such an honour to lead the rebuild of this community for nearly 3 years! OneEleven is in great hands as we approach our 10 year anniversary this Fall,” Lombardi added.
When asked why he decided to step down from leading OneEleven, Lombardi said: “Excited for my next challenge, and look forward to continuing to support the OneEleven community.”
OneEleven appointed Lombardi as managing director in September 2020. In the three years since then, Lombardi led the tech hub through its return, bringing it back to life after it ceased operations in April 2020. This closure significantly impacted the tech ecosystem, which housed over 50 startups at its downtown Toronto location at the time.
The decision to shutdown OneEleven was made in the early days of the pandemic by its board of directors, which included former CEO Dean Hopkins, who left the role in 2019 and became COO of OneEleven partner Oxford Properties.
In August 2020, BetaKit reported OneEleven was acquired by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE, now the Ontario Centre of Innovation). OCI is among the founding partners of OneEleven, alongside OMERS Ventures and Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University).
“Matthew joined OneEleven during a challenging period when the pandemic forced our doors to remain closed and the OneEleven membership needed rebuilding,” said Alicia Pereira, communications director at OCI.
Under Lombardi’s leadership and OCI’s ownership, OneEleven reopened in October 2020 and put in place an advisory council to oversee its reboot. In the following months since its relaunch, the hub implemented a new focus on upskilling, launching its talent upskilling program in 2021.
RELATED: Inside the reborn OneEleven
In a recent interview with BetaKit, Lombardi noted the programming has been refined and updated since its launch to include sprints, group projects, masterclasses, and guest speakers, having been used by approximately 1,200 people.
With many companies continuing to employ hybrid or remote work arrangements, Lombardi also said OneEleven has been focused on providing more flexibility in the hub’s space and services.
According to Lombardi, OneEleven’s membership has recovered to 40 companies in just under two years.
John Ruffolo, who was the founder and CEO of OMERS Ventures when OneEleven was created, currently serves as honorary chair of the reborn version’s board of directors.
Ruffolo said Lombardi was “absolutely critical” in navigating OneEleven through its closure at the start of the pandemic and led the tech hub back to pre-pandemic levels.
Speaking about Lombardi’s tenure at OneEleven, Ruffolo said: “Matt felt [OneEleven] was now in a good shape to pass the baton to the next leader to bring it to the next level. We are sad to see Matt go but thrilled that he was a big part of the community building at OneEleven.”
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