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Punamiya Named New Propel CEO

Anita Punamiya has been named the new CEO of Propel ICT, Atlantic Canada’s regional tech accelerator.

Propel Chair Dave Grebenc confirmed Friday that Punamiya is taking the helm of the pan-regional organization, which is gearing up to announce its next cohort.

Punamiya has a long association with Propel dating back to 2005, and previously sat on the Propel board. Based in Saint John, she is a tech enthusiast who has served as a co-founder of Shaping Purpose and CEO of CompreCultures Ltd. She officially takes up her position today.

“She has a rich background coming from India and working in the fashion industry in Dubai, where she first got interested in startups and entrepreneurship,” said Grebenc. “She will be able to relate to many of the startups’ challenges as she has started a couple of her own businesses here in Canada. She has the experience and passion to work with our talented team, build more support with sponsors and stakeholders, and expand our vision and plan for what is next for Propel ICT.”

Now in its 12th year, Propel operates an accelerator for tech startups that spans all four Atlantic Provinces. Its next cohort, which will be announced soon, will include a group in Charlottetown, working out of LaunchPad P.E.I., the fourth province the group has worked in. Propel has been searching for a CEO since it parted ways with former chief executive Gary Dinn in November.

“I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to working with the team,” said Punamiya in an email on Friday. “Propel has evolved greatly with the efforts of the board and the past EDs, the EIRs and of course the mentors.”

Punamiya joins Propel just as the accelerator is preparing to announce its most recent cohort. It received more than 160 applications, which is an increase of 25 percent over its last cohort. Some 56 of these companies attended the selection camp.

Propel runs two simultaneous channels in its cohort. Propel Build is a program based in Moncton for more mature companies that need to scale their businesses and increase revenues. Propel Launch is a program for earlier stage companies, and is offered in conjunction with community partners, such as Planet Hatch in Fredericton, Volta in Halifax, LaunchPad in Charlottetown and Common Ground in St. John’s.

The six members of the Build program in the last cohort, which wrapped up in September, have since raised a total of $2.3 million.