Meet the Visionary Canadians Attracting International Events

13th December 2023

Canada’s brightest minds are providing true value for business events

One of Canada’s greatest offerings remains undiscovered by many.

When people think of Canada, they may picture pristine mountainous landscapes, the most famously friendly people in the world or perhaps a bottle of maple syrup. And while Canada is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty and an incredibly welcoming population – some of whom enjoy a drizzle of syrup here and there – the country has a lot more to offer.

Canada is home to some of the globe’s most visionary minds, and they are more than willing to share their ideas with the world.

In this article, we’ll examine how Canada’s leading thinkers and intellectual offerings are changing the landscape of their sectors, and attracting – and benefitting – international business events.

Canada’s intellectual prowess 

Canada is a powerhouse across numerous arenas of work, but particularly in six key sectors: agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, technology, life sciences, natural resources, and finance and insurance (F&I). 

In the technology sector, for example, Canadian destinations are flourishing. In 2023, CBRE reported that Calgary, the Waterloo Region and Québec City were among those with the highest growth in their “Tech Talent Scorecard Ranking”.

Meanwhile, in the F&I sector, Toronto remains North America’s second-largest financial hub and contains over 600 fintech firms, 10,000 financial services companies and over 320,000 financial services professionals.

In the natural resources sector, Canada provides great value as a cleantech powerhouse. The country is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity and Vancouver, known for its natural beauty, is home to the largest hydrogen fuel cell industry on earth – with a 16% global market share.

These examples are just a surface level view of why Canada should be viewed as a global leader in these sectors, and the others identified above. If you’re looking to host impactful and inspiring business events, this provides a fantastic opportunity. 

The Canadian Visionaries Network 

In each of the areas, there are Canadian academic, industry and association leaders undertaking pioneering work and driving their sector forward.

Event organizers can leverage this knowledge capital to enhance their agendas by hearing from these experts as keynote speakers, touring their state-of-the-art facilities and/or engaging in business-to-business exchanges with the organizations leading their field. Destination Canada recently developed the Canadian Visionaries Network (CVN) as a vehicle for telling the stories of Canada’s thought leaders. The CVN aims to showcase the country’s intellectual capital offerings and to connect organizations with the inspiring ideas and experiences of these influential innovators. 

Meet the Visionaries

Rather than simply describe the CVN, we thought it would be best to introduce two of its members – from the life sciences sector – to give you a better idea of the calibre of expertise available in Canada.

Professor Lara Mahal

“A lot of people don’t realize the wealth of intellectual resources here, and I think it’s important that they see it,”claims Prof. Lara Mahal.Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Prof. Mahal was the recipient of a prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC), in Glycomics, in 2019.

The highly competitive CERC Program supports world-renowned researchers, and offers universities award values of either $8 million or $4 million over eight years for them to establish ambitious research programs at Canadian universities. 

Prof. Mahal’s work focuses on system-based approaches to understand the complex sugars that encode the information governing our health. 

“You have this wealth of expertise here and a local population that is really educated in a lot of different life sciences sectors, that actually then allows for a much more vibrant conference,” she says.

Dr. Ryan D’Arcy

Having published over 260 academic works and attracted more than $85 million in competitive research and innovation funding, Dr. Ryan Darcy is a leading mind within the neuroscience community. 

He is the President and Chief Science Officer of HealthTech Connex, a biotechnology company based in the Metro Vancouver area, and is a three-time TEDX speaker. 

His work with events, however, is not limited to delivering impactful addresses. In 2014, Dr. D’Arcy helped bring the International Conference on Biomagnetism – the world’s premier conference on neuroscience and biomagnetism mapping on the brain – to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He says: “Historically in neuroscience and brain research, Canada has been highly regarded on the world stage. Many of the pioneers around how we understand the brain come from Canada, which was a major advantage to holding the event here.” 

Scratching the surface 

Many of Canada’s brightest minds have helped draw events to the country, and many more have been leveraged by visiting organizations to enhance their meeting’s agenda.

And while the CVN is a fantastic resource for an association looking to learn more about Canada’s intellectual riches, many Canadian destinations have their own local ambassador programs that act as one-stop-shops for those looking to tap into a city’s innovation ecosystem.

These initiatives – like the MIND Partnership in Vancouver or the Legacy Builders Project in Saskatoon – allow visiting corporations and associations to connect with the right people to help make their event unforgettable.

Get in touch

To learn more about the Canadian Visionary Network, how Canada’s sector expertise can benefit your event, or anything else about events in Canada – reach out to Destination Canada’s Business Events team: Robert McCreight, Director of Government and Industry Relations, Business Events, Destination Canada,  or learn more at

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