Board of Directors

Mike Lazaridis, Board Chair

Mr. Lazaridis, O.C., O.Ont., FRS, FRSC, is the founding chair of the Quantum Valley Ideas Lab Board of Directors and is a Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Quantum Valley Investments (“QVI”), which he and Doug Fregin established in Waterloo. In March 2013, they launched QVI with $100 million to provide financial and intellectual capital for the development and commercialization of quantum physics and quantum computing breakthroughs.  QVI aims to help transform ideas and early-stage breakthroughs into commercially viable products, technologies, and services.  Mr. Lazaridis is also the founder and Board Chair of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo Institute for Quantum Computing; he is also the founder of the University of Waterloo’s Quantum-Nano Centre.

Mr. Lazaridis has donated more than $170 million to PI, and more than $120 million to IQC.   In addition to this, his generous support for a new technology-focused management institute at Wilfrid Laurier University resulted in the business school being renamed in his honour as the ‘Lazaridis School of Business and Economics’.  Through these ventures, Mr. Lazaridis has established the “Quantum Valley” in Waterloo by bringing the world’s best minds in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and materials science together to collaborate on cutting-edge quantum research.


In 1984, Mr. Lazaridis founded Research In Motion (now BlackBerry) where he invented the BlackBerry and created the smartphone industry and built Canada’s largest global tech business. Mr. Lazaridis served in various positions including Co-CEO and Co-Chairman (1984-2012) and Board Vice Chair and Chair of the Innovation Committee (2012-13).


Among his many honours, Mr. Lazaridis is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada and has been named to both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.  He was listed on the Maclean’s Honour Roll as a distinguished Canadian in 2000, named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, honoured as the Globe and Mail Nation Builder of the Year in 2010, selected as the 2013 Visionary of the Year by the Intelligent Community Forum, and awarded the Ernest C. Manning Principal Award – Canada’s most prestigious innovation prize.


Mr. Lazaridis holds an honorary doctoral degree in Engineering from the University of Waterloo (where he formerly served as Chancellor), as well as a Doctor of Laws from McMaster University, the University of Windsor, Laval University and the University of Western Ontario.  In addition to his many professional and personal accomplishments, Mr. Lazaridis won an Academy Award and an Emmy Award for technical achievements in the movie and TV industries for developing a high-speed barcode reader that greatly increased the speed of editing film.  In 2017, Mr. Lazaridis was inducted into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame, recognizing him as a visionary and pioneer of the consumer technology industry.

Cosimo Fiorenza, Vice Chair and Secretary

Mr. Fiorenza is a founding director of Quantum Valley Ideas Lab and serves in many capacities throughout the Quantum Valley ecosystem. Prior to his current positions, Mr. Fiorenza spent approximately 20 years with different major Toronto law firms, including Bennett Jones LLP from 2006 to 2009 as a Senior Tax Partner, and Goodman & Carr LLP from 2001 to 2006 where he held various positions including Managing Partner, member of the firm’s Executive Committee, and Senior Tax Partner. Mr. Fiorenza specialized in corporate tax. During his tenure on Bay Street, he advised some of Canada’s largest corporations and biggest entrepreneurs on income tax and commercial matters with a focus on technology and international structure.

Mr. Fiorenza is the Vice Chair and a founding director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the foundational theoretical physics centre established by Mike Lazaridis in 1999.  In addition to his current role as Vice Chair, Mr. Fiorenza is also the Co-Chair of the Perimeter Institute’s Leadership Council and a member of the Finance Committee.  Mr. Fiorenza is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Quantum Computing, the experimental physics research institute established by Mr. Lazaridis at the University of Waterloo in 2002.  Mr. Fiorenza is also the Vice-President and General Counsel of Quantum Valley Investments and the Quantum Valley Investment Fund.  Mr. Fiorenza holds a degree in business administration from Lakehead University and a law degree from the University of Ottawa.  He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1991.

Doug Fregin

Mr. Fregin co-founded Quantum Valley Ideas Lab in 2016 with his close friend Mike Lazaridis. Messrs. Fregin and Lazaridis also founded Research In Motion Limited (RIM) in 1984 which created the BlackBerry wireless device that revolutionized the communications industry. Mr. Fregin served as the Vice President of Operations and as a Director of RIM until he retired in 2007. He was instrumental in evaluating various materials, fabrication technologies and design of the first circuit boards that were used in early versions of the company’s wireless technology that are now standard in the BlackBerry. Mr. Fregin studied electrical engineering at the University of Windsor. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and is a Member of the Order of Canada. He also shares a Technical Emmy Award (1994) for Development of a Keycode Reader with Kodak and the National Film Board of Canada.

Mr. Fregin devotes a significant amount of his time and resources assisting various African charitable projects, including the establishment and operation of a vocational school in rural Uganda.  He has also made contributions to a number of other philanthropic endeavours, including donations to the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and the Quantum-Nano Centre at the University of Waterloo, as well as the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Serena Lefort, Chair of the Finance Committee

Ms. Lefort is the Founder of The Connext Group Ltd., a consulting firm providing M&A and strategic and business operational consulting to clients in the investment and pension sectors. Previously, Ms. Lefort held a dual role at OMERS as the Executive Vice President, Investment Finance & Tax, and Head of Tax at OMERS.  In this role she led the financial and business operations for nearly $30B of assets under management for private equity and infrastructure investments, covering performance measurement, valuations, transaction structuring, portfolio impact analysis, data/software applications management, and strategic/operating planning.   Ms. Lefort was an M&A Tax Partner at KPMG LLP, where she advised clients on tax efficient structuring of acquisitions and divestitures. Prior to KPMG, Ms. Lefort was the Chief Financial Officer of a Canadian national pharmaceutical distributor, where she gained extensive hands-on strategic, operational and M&A experience. She holds the CPA and CA designation. Ms. Lefort completed her Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University.

Bill Innes

Mr. Innes served as President of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., and has more than four decades of executive and strategist experience spanning his distinguished career. He has been a director at the Continuous Learning Group Inc. since June 2010 and has provided C-suite advice to several global clients. Mr. Innes graduated from the University of Birmingham in England in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 2001. Mr. Innes’ professional memberships include the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta, the Industrial Research Institute, past Chairman of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, Board of Trustees of Liberty Science Center.

John Risley

John Risley is Chairman and CEO of CFFI Ventures Inc., a diversified holding company operating internationally. The company has majority or significant stakes in a portfolio of young companies ranging from financial services, renewable energy and the tech sector. Mr. Risley is very active in community affairs, sitting on the Board of a number of charitable organizations. He is Chair of Futurpreneur Canada, and Chair of the Ocean Supercluster. He regularly engages in public policy debate, is Chairman of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, a member of the World President’s Organization, The Chief Executives Organization and the Business Council of Canada. He is also a graduate of Harvard University’s President’s Program in Leadership. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is a member of the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

“Lazaridis led recruitment and development at three research organizations: the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing, and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology. Those efforts have attracted prominent physicists and made Canada an outsize force in the field which the U.S. and China typically dominate.”

– Bloomberg Businessweek, February 2018