Bright young innovators are the key to Canada's future prosperity, Ryerson University President says

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2011 /CNW/ - Canada's universities are home to many "bright, young innovators" and much more needs to be done to help bring their ideas to market, Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy told the Economic Club of Canada in an address today.

Saying "it's young people who will produce the next wave of innovative ideas and intellectual property," Levy told a sold-out room at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel that universities need to better educate young people on how to create their own businesses and take their innovations to market.

In his speech entitled "Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A New Direction for Universities" he called on universities to build on their excellence in discovery-driven research and provide greater support to students engaged in market-driven research and innovation, stating:  "I believe Canadian universities can and must do more to help foster the entrepreneurial drive."

To do this, universities must take on three additional tasks:

  • connect the best and most passionate innovators to each other, and to business, at the earliest stages
  • teach those innovators how to be their own bosses; and
  • support the kind of research that leads directly to markets and economic benefit.

Levy's speech builds on his remarks two years ago at the Empire Club of Canada when he presented Ryerson's vision to create a digital media innovation cluster in downtown Toronto.  Shortly after the speech, in April 2010, Ryerson launched the Digital Media Zone which has already incubated and accelerated the development of 34 companies and partnered with 50 more.

Zone-based education can help stop the leakage of Canada's intellectual property to other countries, by creating a place for young innovators to connect to businesses and investors in Canada.  The landscape is starting to change, as a number of universities have launched successful initiatives similar to the Digital Media Zone. Support from the federal and provincial governments has been welcomed and is helping to lay a strong foundation for a globally competitive digital economy in Canada, powered by the nation's youth.

Full text of the speech is available here:

Video about the Digital Media Zone available here:

Opened in April 2010, Ryerson University's Digital Media Zone (DMZ) is a multidisciplinary workspace for young entrepreneurs infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto. Set atop Yonge-Dundas Square, this hub of digital media innovation, collaboration and commercialization is home to both entrepreneurial startups and industry solution-providers. With access to overhead and business services, students and alumni can fast-track their product launches, stimulating Canada's emerging digital economy through spending and job creation. Since its launch the DMZ has helped more than 170 innovators to incubate and accelerate 29 startups and to launch 57 projects. For more information on the DMZ, visit

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to 28,000 students, including 2,000 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 130,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit

SOURCE Ryerson University

For further information:


Bruce Piercey       
Public Affairs | Ryerson University    
Office: 416-979-5000 x 6638     
Cell: 416-804-3975      
Suelan Toye
Public Affairs | Ryerson University
Office: 416-979-5000 x 7161

If you require this in another format, please contact Ryerson University Public Affairs at 416-979-5000 x 7134.



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