The Erie Innovation District today announced the selection of Karl H. Sanchack as its inaugural president and CEO. Sanchack, currently managing director of AB Innovations LLC, a Virginia-based consulting firm focused on best practices in innovation, has 25 years of technology and innovation management experience from Silicon Valley through the aerospace and defense industries.
“The Erie Innovation District was created to encourage connections between academia and industry and to develop new knowledge-based businesses focused on security, intelligence and safety within our urban core,” said Dr. David Dausey, Mercyhurst University provost and chairman of the Innovation District. “We are extremely pleased to have attracted someone with Mr. Sanchack’s diverse national innovation experience to lead this initiative.”
An experienced leader in technology and exponential innovation, Sanchack has established investments and partnerships across academia, national laboratories, government agencies and industry that achieved mission impact and created jobs. Those partnerships also resulted in research and development activity and in the launch of new products and services with a high return on investment. "Erie is uniquely positioned with exceptional community, corporate, government and philanthropic support."
In addition to his leadership experience with AB Innovations, Sanchack has held roles as chief technologist and global advisor of technology and innovation at Lockheed Martin Corporation. Ultimately, his pathfinding initiatives led to global recognition as acting corporate director of innovation.
Sanchack is familiar with Erie, having spent the first two years of his undergraduate education at Penn State Behrend. He subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism from Pennsylvania State University. He also holds a Master of Business Administration, Technology Management, from the University of Phoenix.
“I look forward to returning to Erie to lead this exciting catalytic innovation project,” said Sanchack, who is married and the father of two sons. “Erie is uniquely positioned with exceptional community, corporate, government and philanthropic support, both in terms of leadership and financial commitment.”
Current partners in the Erie Innovation District include Erie Insurance, McManis and Monsalve Associates, Mercyhurst University, UPMC and Velocity Network Inc.
“I will be working with additional partners to help us create an environment that is uniquely Erie, while also attractive to global companies, startups and job creators,” Sanchack said.
Velocity Network Inc. CEO Joel Deuterman, an innovation district partner and member of its selection committee, said, “From the start, Mr. Sanchack easily had one of the best resumes. But when I met him and listened to him speak, it became abundantly clear to me that he was the man for the job. Not only is he brilliant, but he is a man of execution. He’s already working and he doesn’t even officially start until Oct. 1. And that impresses the heck out of me!”
The Erie Innovation District is made possible by a $4 million grant provided by The Erie Community Foundation in partnership with the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund for Transformational Philanthropy and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. Sanchack was selected through a national search by DHR International.