About us:

Gene DePrez, Managing Partner, (USA & Americas)

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Gene is based in the New York area where he was Co-Global and Americas Leader for IBM’s Global Location and Economic Development Strategies consulting practice, and associate partner in IBM’s Strategy & Change practice and IBM’s Global Innovation Team where he helped clients develop collaborative thought leadership and innovative breakthroughs in their business models.

Gene held similar roles at PricewaterhouseCoopers prior to IBM’s acquisition of PwC’s management consulting practice. As a result he was selected as Chief Innovation Officer for the UK’s first comprehensive economic development company following a world-wide search.

He also served as Vice President of PHH Fantus and as Principal of Fluor Daniel Consulting, and President/CEO of Partnerships DataNet; a Washington DC based national collaborative development initiative formed by the White House with business and national association leaders. Earlier in his career he was CEO of Urbanarium, Inc, a city-region/university economic development consortium, Assistant to the President and Director of University Communications at Rochester Institute of Technology and held several organisational development and marketing communications positions at Eastman Kodak.

For over 35 years he has advised hundreds of the world’s leading organisations transform their business strategies and decide where to invest and locate their headquarters, research centres, advanced manufacturing and other major business units.

Recent work includes:

Global Economic Development strategy: Led development of competitive positioning strategy action plans for numerous states and city regions throughout North America and the UK.

Clients have included: Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Indiana, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey, and metro areas of Phoenix, Toledo, Newark, Baltimore, Toronto, and Sheffield and Hull in the UK. He has led the development of best practice growth models for universities and technology parks, among them the world class Research Triangle Park of North Carolina.

Global Business Location strategy clients have included: Headquarters, R&D, manufacturing, data and operations centre site selection projects for Citigroup, Novartis, Wiley Publishing, Chiquita, Merck, Becton Dickinson, P&G/Gillette, Hertz Corporation, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Master Card, VISA and UPS and over 500 other companies around the world.

Gene is a principal strategic advisor to Citiscope, a journalist-led website and global news service reporting on innovation in city regions around the world. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Partners for Livable Communities, has served on the Editorial Board of CoreNet Global, a real estate industry association, and until recently served three terms on the board of the International Economic Development Council, where he has been selected to receive its 2011 Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Economic Development.

He is a sought after strategic advisor and facilitator to private, public and non-profit boards and executives, a frequent speaker on innovation and location based investment strategy at international and regional conferences, and has been quoted often in the media, including the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio including the BBC.

Andy Curtis, Managing Partner, (UK)

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Over the last 19 years Andy has led and consulted on numerous innovation and economic development initiatives in the UK, USA and Canada, working with business, educational institutions, local and national government and economic development organisations.

Specialising in the fields of innovation based economic development, inward investment, technology transfer and commercialisation his recent activities have included the development and delivery of local, regional and international initiatives such as intellectual property commercialisation, next generation broadband infrastructure, business incubation, acceleration, facilitating partnerships for the private and public sectors and academia, international trade development and sector development.

Andy works extensively with the emerging and convergent technology business sectors to create economic growth and a recognisable focus on cities and regions as a hub for innovative activity.

Previously, Andy has been Head of Business Growth for Nottingham City Council, Assistant Director of Innovation for Creative Sheffield and Head of Operations at Bradford University’s Innovation Unit in addition to a variety of management and delivery roles for short-term business support and sector development programmes across the North and Midlands in the UK and British Columbia in Canada.

He also has in-depth experience of working in the digital, media and marketing sectors and started his career working in studio and production management for the television and film industry with Nickelodeon UK, (Sky & Viacom) in London and Granada TV/ITV in Manchester. Andy is a qualified commercial photographer and was the Production Director for the UK's largest adventure film festival for 10 years. He brings his experience of marketing in all in its forms to many of the economic development initiatives we work on.

In July 2013 he was a made Fellow of the Institute of Knowledge Transfer (IKT) and is a member of International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in North America and the Institute of Economic Development (IED) in the UK.

Tina Valdecanas, Senior Economic Development Strategist

Tina Valecanas

Tina Valdecanas has over 15 years of experience in leading high-profile, innovation-based economic development strategy for major regions and development organizations.

She has worked with a broad range of clients to identify and evaluate critical issues facing their long-term economic competitiveness goals. She has a solid track record of building effective relationships with a broad range of stakeholders and translating high-level strategic concepts into clear, actionable recommendations. Most recent areas of focus include the foundations necessary for building sustainable innovation centers and regional technology-based economic development.

Tina has used her communications expertise to help communities extend their brand and increase community buy-in by demonstrating how their many initiatives and investments further leverage economic development foundations. She has also served as the lead author or contributing author of numerous publications that examine best practices among regional economic development efforts, innovation centers, and technology-based economic development trends.

Previously, Tina served as Vice President and Chief Branding and Strategy Officer for the world-class Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and as Vice President, Product Improvement for Greater Phoenix Economic Council in Arizona. She received her undergraduate degree from the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and her masters’ degree from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.