Irek is the Director of Partnerships at WEtech Alliance—one of fourteen Regional Innovation Centres across Ontario that diversifies regional economies by supporting the technology and innovation sector.
Irek is a big booster of youth. In partnership with local industry, the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and area schools, Irek spearheaded the growth of the FIRST Robotics in Windsor and Essex. FIRST Robotics is a competitive robotics program, which prepares our young people for success in a 21st century knowledge economy. Irek spearheaded the successful bid for Windsor to host the Windsor Essex Great Lakes Robotics Regional, the largest robotics regional in Canada, which draws 1,500 high school students to our city every year from around the world. Partnering with business advisory organizations such as the Small Business Centre, the Business Development Bank of Canada, industry partners such as Union Gas and the Royal Bank of Canada, the university, and local Aboriginal community groups—Irek developed an innovative program called Supporting Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurs in Windsor and Essex (SAYEWE).
In partnership with TechTownDetroit, Irek organized the first ever cross-border Hacking Health Windsor Detroit, which brings together 200 professionals from the Health and IT sectors to design tech innovations that improve health care.
Irek received his PhD in Political Science from Vanderbilt University, an MSc in Government from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He worked in government at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an Atlantic Council of Canada Fellow, and published a book chapter on cross-border environmental cooperation between local governments around the Great Lakes basin. He worked on Species-at-Risk remediation around Ojibway Park as part of the Windsor Essex Parkway Project.
Irek's family arrived in Canada thirty years ago as political refugees after his father was imprisoned as a member of the Solidarity movement, which opposed the communist dictatorship and established the first free and independent trade union in communist Eastern Europe. They immediately settled in Windsor where his father worked as an engineer in the automotive industry.
An interesting fact about Irek is that, as a teenager he walked 700 kilometres in 18 days on a pilgrimage that started from the Baltic Coast in Europe and led him through highways, forests, fields and farmlands. Irek grew up in Forest Glade, attended H.B. McManus and St. Joseph’s High School, is a proud Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and avid hockey fan who loves to read, to cycle, and to take nature hikes through parks.