Suzanne Fortier calls for fostering young entrepreneurs


University head urges Montreal business leaders to help students fulfill their entrepreneurial ambitions

The last Innovation Report of the Conference Board of Canada brought encouraging news for Quebec and Canada. But we can do much better, McGill University Principal Suzanne Fortier told the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday.

“Quebec and Montreal have immense creative potential,” she said during a luncheon event on “The Value of Entrepreneurship.”  Suzanne  Fortier shared the stage with Michèle Boisvert, Executive Vice-President, Business Outreach, of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Montreal has a rich pool of students brimming with talent, energy and ambition, Fortier noted. “Generation Y, as I am learning at McGill, is truly Generation Why Not?,” a generation of people ready to have an impact on their local and global communities.

In order to help unleash that potential, the city’s businesses and financial institutions need to help create a more supportive climate, Fortier said. Successful, experienced business people, for example, can pitch in by mentoring students and sponsoring internships.

At McGill, “our strategy is to offer all our students – not only those in management -- opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial potential,” Principal Fortier said.

Among the recent initiatives at McGill to foster entrepreneurship:

  • The McGill Dobson Cup competition for business and social-enterprise start-ups, featuring mentorship for participants, has helped create more than 130 ventures and 700 jobs in the past six years.
  • The McGill X-1 accelerator program, created last summer, enables students to spend 10 weeks working full-time on their start-ups.
  • McGill is a founding member, with ETS and now Concordia, of the Quartier de l’innovation.

“Helping to make Montreal a hub for innovation is one of my priorities as Principal of McGill,” Fortier said.

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Chris Chipello
Media Relations - McGill University
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