How will Canada capitalize on its innovation potential?

Summary of the event produced by The Globe and Mail’s Events team. The Globe editorial staff was not involved.

Across Canada, business leaders and economic and regional development organizations are working to attract new entrepreneurs. Amid an aging population and lower fertility rate, there is growing recognition of Canada’s need for immigrants who will start businesses, create jobs and contribute to economic growth. What are the best strategies to attract, retain and support new entrepreneurs?

On April 6, The Globe and Mail – in partnership with Century Initiative – hosted a hybrid conference titled Unleashing Our Potential: What Immigrants Mean to Canadian Innovation? The event brought together leading voices from business, immigration and economic development to discuss the people, policies and investments needed to create an innovation ecosystem in Canada.

Philip Crawleypublisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail kicked off the event with welcoming remarks and was attended by Lisa Lalande, CEO of Century Initiative. Ms. Lalande presented the highlights of the 2nd annual conference of Century Initiative National Economic Growth and Prosperity Dashboard.

Following, James BradshawGlobe and Mail banking reporter interviewed Rania Llewellyn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Laurentian Bank of Canada. They discussed what the long-term vision for business innovation and growth should look like as Canada moves towards economic recovery and the role that immigration will play.

Following the interview, Rita Trichursenior business journalist and columnist for The Globe and Mail, held a lively conversation on the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada’s future prosperity, featuring Marc WisemanChairman of the Board of Century Initiative and golden hyderPresident and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

Chris Hannay, a freelance business reporter for The Globe and Mail was next on the agenda, to moderate a panel of first-generation entrepreneurs. Panelists included Muraly Srinarayanathasexecutive chairman of 369 Global Inc.; Gina El Kattanco-founder of Nuba; Karla Brionesentrepreneur and business coach and Zahra Al Harazico-founder of Skillit.

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After a short networking break, Dawn Callejaeditor of Report on Business magazine interviewed Ajay VirmaniPresident and CEO of Cargojet, who discussed supports and strategies to help business founders succeed.

The last panel of the day was moderated by Temur Durrani, technology reporter for The Globe and Mail. Mr. Durrani, accompanied by the panelists Irfhan RawjiFounder and Executive Chairman of MobSquad and Managing Partner of Relay Ventures; Carole SaabCEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Francis McGuirePresident of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Carol Anne HiltonCEO and Founder of The Indigenomics Institute, looked at how we could strengthen our innovation ecosystem to help researchers and entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses.

The day ended with an insightful closing speech from Stephane Poloz, Special Advisor at Olser, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Mr. Poloz outlined actions that policymakers, investors and accelerators could take now to shape a long-term national innovation strategy.

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The Globe and Mail presented the event in partnership with Century Initiative and with sponsorship from 369Konnect. Supporters for the event included the Business Council of Canada, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, ModSquad and the Srinarayanathas Foundation. For more information on upcoming Globe events, visit our Events Center at