Skip to main content

Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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

On April 6, The Globe and Mail – in partnership with Century Initiative – hosted a hybrid conference called Unlocking our Potential: What do immigrants mean to Canadian innovation? The event brought together leading voices in business, immigration and economic development to discuss the people, policies and investments needed to create an ecosystem of innovation in Canada.

Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail kicked off the event with welcome remarks and was followed by Lisa Lalande, CEO of Century Initiative. Ms. Lalande provided highlights from Century Initiative’s 2nd annual National Scorecard on Economic Growth and Prosperity.

Up next, James Bradshaw, banking reporter with The Globe and Mail interviewed Rania Llewellyn, president and CEO of Laurentian Bank of Canada. They discussed what the long-term vision for innovation and business growth should look like as Canada heads into economic recovery and what role immigration will play.

Following the interview, Rita Trichur, senior business writer and columnist with The Globe and Mail held a lively conversation on the role of entrepreneur immigrants in view of Canada’s future prosperity, featuring Mark Wiseman, chair of the board with Century Initiative and Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

Chris Hannay, independent business reporter with The Globe and Mail was next on the agenda, to moderate a panel of first-generation entrepreneurs. The panelists included Muraly Srinarayanathas, executive chairman of 369 Global Inc.; Gina El Kattan, co-founder of Nuba; Karla Briones, entrepreneur and business coach and Zahra Al-Harazi, co-founder of Skillit.

View Part One

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

The final panel of the day was hosted by Temur Durrani, technology reporter with The Globe and Mail. Mr. Durrani, along with panelists Irfhan Rawji, founder and executive chair of MobSquad and managing partner with Relay Ventures; Carole Saab, CEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Francis McGuire, president of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Carol Anne Hilton, CEO and founder of The Indigenomics Institute examined how we might strengthen our innovation ecosystem to support researchers and entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses.

The day finished out with an insightful closing keynote from Stephen Poloz, special advisor with Olser, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Mr. Poloz presented actions that policy makers, investors and accelerators might take now to shape a national innovation strategy for the long term.

View Part Two

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

Interact with The Globe