partnering on growing the
Ensuring long-term prosperity through talent, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.
“If our universities are succeeding, our young people are succeeding, our economy is succeeding and we’re doing well.”
- Lekan Olawoye, Excecutive Lead, MaRS, at the Ontario’s Universities Roundtable on Youth Employment

The Issue

Ontario’s talent, research and diversity are key to building up the province’s businesses, attracting foreign investment and becoming a global economic leader. To ensure Ontario’s long-term prosperity, however, we need to also invest in entrepreneurs and economic development.

The Background

  • Thriving clusters – regional concentrations of companies, non-profits and academic institutions that spur growth and innovation in a common field – help drive Ontario’s economy by encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing between postsecondary institutions, business and the public sector.
  • Talent development and research expertise are essential ingredients for thriving clusters. From finance and the life sciences to mining and manufacturing, employers across the province depend on highly skilled university graduates and research produced by university researchers to stay competitive and grow.
  • In a global economy, attracting top talent from around the world and drawing on the insights and ideas of international researchers is also essential, which is why Ontario’s universities put an emphasis on recruiting students and faculty to develop their ideas here in Ontario.
  • A risk-taking entrepreneurial culture is vital for a dynamic and innovative economy. In Canada, small businesses, including startups, accounted for 87.7 per cent of net new private jobs in Canada from 2005 to 2015. And 16.7 per cent of working-age Canadians are involved in early stage entrepreneurial activity, up from 12.2 per cent in 2013.
  • University incubators and accelerators have helped launch hundreds of startups. But after their launch, Ontario startups face challenges in scaling up into large companies. Too many companies get bought out and move abroad, Google Canada’s Fab Dolan said at a recent roundtable held by Ontario’s universities. “We need those companies to be here.”
  • Ontario’s economy will continue to develop and thrive through clusters of innovation, a risk-taking entrepreneurial culture, and global partnerships that give the province’s employers and industries access to the brightest talent and ideas.
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What We Heard
Read about what Ontarians had to say about the future of our economy.

Key Facts about The Economy

What Ontario Universities
Are Doing

Ontario’s universities contribute more than $115 billion annually to the province’s economy. We help drive a growing, dynamic province in a number of ways:

Supporting thriving clusters through research institutions that bring researchers and students together with private and public sector partners to spur collaboration and innovation, and help create strong industries.


Bringing the world to Ontario and bringing Ontario to the world by developing and educating world-class graduate students, welcoming more than 64,000 international students from more than 200 countries, and offering study abroad opportunities and international research partnerships.

Fostering entrepreneurship through incubators and accelerators that offer the mentorship, training and work space that help entrepreneurs develop an idea or take a company to the next level. Universities also offer programs devoted to teaching students what it takes to produce innovative inventions, attract investors and take their service or product to market.

How Government Can Help
  • Develop a cluster strategy

    Support the development of a “cluster” strategy that will stimulate Ontario’s competitive economic leadership.

  • University incubators and incentives

    Help bring new companies and entrepreneurial ideas to life through stable funding for university incubators and incentives for graduates to start a business.

  • Encourage risk-taking

    Support a shift from a risk-averse to an entrepreneurial society by providing incentives that attract venture capital, enable business growth, entice innovative companies to Ontario and help startups grow and stay in the province.

  • Attract the best talent

    Help attract the best talent through measures that include expanding the number and value of graduate scholarships.

  • Support international initiatives

    Provide responsive funding for internationally matched research projects and support students to take a semester abroad or gain international work experience.

Partnering for a Better Future
By building thriving clusters, supporting a risk-taking entrepreneurial culture and attracting students and researchers from around the world, Ontario can continue to develop the talent, innovation and diversity that drive our economy and help the province lead in the 21st century.
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Research and Innovation

Find out how universities are committed to working together to drive research and innovation in Ontario.

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Driving a Prosperous Future

Driving a Prosperous Future tells us that Ontario’s universities make a total economic impact of $115.8 billion on the province’s GDP.

Preparing Our Students for Tomorrow's World

The 2014-16 Biennial Report showcases exciting initiatives at Ontario universities that support student success now and into the future.

Graduate Survey 2015

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace, the future remains bright for university graduates, concludes the latest Ontario government graduate survey.

Read the Report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.