Shelley Hessian
Executive Director, Start-Up Yard at COVE

Shelley Hessian is executive director of Start-Up Yard at COVE (Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship).

COVE is a global centre for ocean innovation and collaboration being developed on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour. The site will include an incubator, Start-Up Yard, to help ocean technology start-ups accelerate their development through facilities, programs, incubation, funding, shared equipment, expertise and mentoring.

Shelley has more than 20 years of experience working with small and medium-sized business enterprises, specifically in project management, business development and planning, and strategy implementation.

Before becoming executive director of Start-Up Yard at COVE, Shelley was Innovacorp’s manager of programs and business acceleration. She worked one-on-one with Innovacorp's early stage technology client companies and led the organization’s many acceleration programs and other initiatives, such as I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition, Early Stage Commercialization Fund, Start-Up Visa Program, CleanTech Accelerate Program, OceanTech Development and Demonstration Programs, and Business Over Breakfast series. She also oversaw Innovacorp's work with Nova Scotia companies and entrepreneurial communities outside Halifax, and managed the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre, an incubation facility for early stage life sciences ventures.

Prior to joining the Innovacorp team, Shelley was manager of consulting and skills development at Saint Mary’s University Business Development Centre, which offers professional business consulting services, skills development and customized training programs to entrepreneurs. In this role, Shelley led the development and implementation of new projects, created annual strategic business plans, and mentored clients in several key areas, including business plans, market/feasibility studies and project management.

Shelley is co-author of “Entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canadian University Environments – The Variables that Promote and Hinder Entrepreneurship Development” and “Entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canadian University Environments – A Model and Strategy for Entrepreneurship Development among Students.” These two publications offer insights into creating a culture of entrepreneurship at universities.

Shelley holds a bachelor of commerce and an MBA with a concentration in information technology from Saint Mary’s University and she is also a certified project management professional.