Creative Destruction Lab Awards

February 7, 2014

Thank you, Ajay [Agrawal]. I’m very pleased to be here, and I’m grateful to you for inviting me.

Seeing the Creative Destruction Lab in action was fascinating, and truly exciting. We use the word ‘innovation’ a lot – no doubt because it’s of fundamental importance to our economy and to our society. But it’s amazing actually to witness ‘new things’ coming into being, through the exchange of ideas, insights, and expertise. So I’d like to thank all of you for letting me sit in on your meetings today.

I should add, that the Lab provides an example, par excellence, of what I hope to encourage across the University during my tenure as President – leveraging our location in the Toronto region; reimagining the student experience (in particular, the undergraduate experience) ; and strengthening our international partnerships.

Ladies and gentlemen, as President, among other things I’m the University’s booster-in-chief. Each time I meet with our brilliant faculty, staff, students, alumni, and volunteers, I gain a new proof point. Thank you for giving me an especially powerful one.

The Rotman School of Management is ranked as Canada’s number-one business school. It’s also ranked among the top management schools in the world – 9th worldwide for research, and 6th worldwide for its PhD program. And, most recently, its MBA program was ranked by employers as 1st in Canada and 8th in North America.

The Rotman School is located at the heart of the University of Toronto, Canada’s leading university, with its unparalleled multidisciplinary breadth and depth. Together we’re situated in one of the top three financial centres in North America, and in the most multicultural urban region in the world. All told, it’s an immense and unique advantage for those who teach and study here.

In turn, we are a key contributor to a huge pool of talent, a wonderfully diverse ecosystem of creativity. It’s impressive. But it’s much more impressive to meet the people behind the prestige. So I’m very pleased to take part in honouring a select group of those people, here at Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab.

The Group of Seven Fellows are crucial to the success of the Lab ventures, and ultimately to the education of the students and alumni who take part. Your expertise is irreplaceable – it’s the expertise gained from experience, as leading practitioners of innovation and entrepreneurship. You have created the massively scalable, technology-based companies that are key to our prosperity in an increasingly fast-paced, sophisticated, and globalized economy. And now you’re helping to educate the next generation of Canadian and global entrepreneurs, through the generous donation of your time and practical wisdom – a truly invaluable contribution.

Seeing your talent and energy, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the incredible success of the Creative Destruction Lab, since its launch less than 18 months ago. But if we’re not surprised we’re still delighted.

The Lab has far exceeded its initial ‘milestone’ of creating $50-million in equity value in its ventures in the first five years, creating $65-million in the first 10 months alone. It’s attracting Fellows from across the country. And I understand today marks its first international partnership, with the arrival of students from MIT.

To all of this I say, first, Wow.

Second, Congratulations to all involved.

Third, Thank you in particular to our G7 Fellows, our champions.

At the outset of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, I think it’s most fitting that the Lab has chosen to recognize your crucial contributions through the presentation of gold medals. The Olympic motto – Citius, Altius, Fortius; Faster, Higher, Stronger – might serve well as a summary of your ethos and your record as individuals.

Certainly it reflects the spirit you’ve brought to the Creative Destruction Lab and its students. So now, without further ado, we will invite you up to ‘own the podium’.