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Ryerson University's DMZ incubator appoints high-profile advisory council

Ryerson University’s DMZ business incubator has announced the creation of a new advisory council, populated by 18 business and technology leaders, not only to develop new approaches to encourage the success of Canadian innovators, but also to “increase visibility for Canadian entrepreneurs”.
“When asked to name up to five high-profile Canadian entrepreneurs, a survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the DMZ at Ryerson University shows that close to forty per cent could not name one,” writes the DMZ’s Ahmed Saleh in a blog post.
Seemingly then, at least part of the mission of this advisory council is to raise public awareness that Canadian entrepreneurs exist.
The same survey also found that 55% of Canadians don’t have the self-confidence to start a business, which is one of the more surprisingly stubborn Canadian clichés pervading Canada’s business culture.
Other findings from the survey included the nugget that nine out of 10 Canadians believe that “tech entrepreneurs are job creators”, eight in 10 agree that “Canada has a strong culture of innovation”, eight in 10 believe that “Canadian companies are globally competitive”, and three in four believe that “Canada is a good place to start a business right now”.
43% of Canadians said that entrepreneurs have the best prospects for having a happy and successful career, compared with tradespeople (24%), teachers (17%), and lawyers (11%).
Meanwhile, more than half of these same respondents don’t have the self-confidence to start a business, and only 34% of them could name a single Canadian entrepreneur.
Nearly 500 entrepreneurs had the self-confidence, however, to apply to an open call last autumn to fill the 18 spots on the DMZ’s advisory council.
“We had a tremendous response to our invitation for business leaders to apply for our council and are incredibly proud to have created a diverse, accomplished advisory council stacked with some of the most talented business leaders in the world,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director at the DMZ. “With innovation booming in Canada, it is important to find new ways to connect veteran business leaders with up and coming entrepreneurs.”
Founded in 2010, the DMZ has launched over 260 start-ups, raised $206 million in seed funding and overseen the creation of at least 2,407 jobs.
“The DMZ at Ryerson has been a leader on the innovation front since its inception,” said federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. “We look forward to seeing how this new team will support our Canadian entrepreneurs in new and game changing ways.”
The DMZ is considered the top-ranked university incubator in North America, and third in the world.
“The DMZ’s advisory council will play an important role in finding strategic and innovative approaches that will strengthen the DMZ’s position as a hub in the innovation economy,” says Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor at Ryerson University. “The council will also better forecast the needs of the startup community and find solutions that will be supported by some of the leading minds in business and technology.”
The advisory council’s first order of business is to create a bootcamp-style program for start-ups, designed to provide potential entrepreneurs with the skills needed to thrive in their initial six months.
After that, the advisory council will be to develop a “collaboration agenda” aimed at developing some syncretism between Canada’s start-up culture and the various start-up hubs scattered around the country, and the federal government’s still-in-development “innovation agenda”.
“I am delighted to be appointed the chairman of the DMZ’s advisory council and I look forward to supporting the creative approaches that help propel the DMZ and its entrepreneurs forward,” says Nadir Mohamed, Chairman of ScaleUP Ventures. “The DMZ at Ryerson is adding tremendous value to the startup ecosystem and I am proud to be part of a community that is strengthening innovation in Canada.”
The DMZ Advisory Council is:

  • Nadir Mohamed, (DMZ Advisory Council Chairman), Chairman, ScaleUP Ventures
  • John Albright, Managing Partner, Relay Ventures
  • Peter Bowie, Independent Director, former CEO of Deloitte China
  • Barry K. Columb, President & CEO, President’s Choice Financial
  • Bruce Croxon Partner, Round 13 Capital
  • Maggie Fox, former Global Senior Vice President, Digital, SAP
  • Sabrina Geremia, Managing Director, Integrated Solutions Google
  • Nazmin Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Greystone Managed Investments Inc.
  • Anthony Lacavera, Founder and Chairman, Globalive Capital
  • Andrew Macdonald, Regional General Manager, APAC and Latin America, Uber
  • Kevin O’Brien, Chief Client Officer, Aeroplan at Aimia
  • Priya Patil, Corporate Director
  • Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Canada
  • Michael Rossi, President, adidas Group Canada
  • Kirstine Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer, Diply GoViral
  • Dino Trevisani, President, IBM Canada
  • Yung Wu, Managing Director, NFQ Ventures
  • David Walmsley, Editor in Chief, The Globe and Mail
  • Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ryerson University
  • Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director, DMZ at Ryerson University

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