U of T’s annual Entrepreneurship Week takes place March 4 to 7 and features more than 15 events across U of T’s three campuses, including pitch competitions, startup showcases, keynote speeches, workshops and panel discussions (supplied image)

The University of Toronto is gearing up for its annual tri-campus Entrepreneurship Week, a four-day showcase of U of T’s diverse and extensive entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Taking place from March 4 to 7, Entrepreneurship Week features more than 15 events across U of T’s three campuses, including pitch competitions, startup showcases, keynote speeches, workshops, panel discussions and more.

All events are free and open to students, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and anyone else interested in learning about – and being inspired by – the startups, founders and research-based entrepreneurship ecosystem that have made U of T one of the top five university startup incubators in the world.

“There is no wrong door for the entrepreneurs in our community. Regardless of what and where you study or how far along you are on your journey, there is a place for you,” says Jon French, director of U of T Entrepreneurship. “This week is an opportunity to showcase the calibre of our talented founders and the breadth and depth of opportunities we can offer over 600 teams annually.”

Here are some of the key events and themes for the upcoming edition of U of T’s annual celebration of all things entrepreneurship:

Watch startups compete for funding and prizes

U of T Entrepreneurship’s marquee business pitch competition is the Desjardins Startup Prize, which will see startups and their founders vie for more than $100,000 in cash prizes.

This year’s shortlist includes companies that are innovating across an array of important areas including neurodegenerative disease treatments, greenhouse gas monitoring, oral hygiene and AI chatbots. The competition, which is split into early-stage and later-stage startup categories, will take place during True Blue Impact Day on March 7.

On March 6, U of T Mississauga’s ICUBE accelerator will host Pitch with a Twist, an annual pitch competition for women entrepreneurs that is judged by an all-women panel. The event, which marks the lead-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, will also feature a keynote address by Catherine Addai, founder of the women’s clothing company Kaela Kay.

Hear from entrepreneur-investor power couple Eva and Allen Lau

(photo supplied)

This year’s Desjardins Speaker Series address will be delivered by Eva and Allen Lau, spouses who are both alumni, successful entrepreneurs and co-founders of Two Small Fish Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm.

In a keynote titled “School of Fish: Lessons Learned from Swimming Upstream,” the Laus will discuss an array of topics including the story of digital storytelling platform Wattpad – co-founded by Allen Lau, with Eva Lau as one of its founding members – from its inception in 2006 to its $600-million exit 15 years later.

The Laus will also offer their advice for early-stage founders, discuss the current investment climate and explore opportunities and challenges in the Canadian innovation ecosystem – including their thoughts on key industries and technologies such as AI, quantum computing and electric vehicles.

The hybrid event will take place on True Blue Impact Day on March 7.

Get inspired by leaders from underrepresented groups


U of T Entrepreneurship continues to celebrate and advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in the entrepreneurship world through its Entrepreneurship Week programming.

At U of T Scarborough on March 5, attendees can take in an International Women’s Day panel discussion featuring Fennella Bruce, media consultant and founder of FKB Media Solutions, and Melanie Ratnam, founder of the researcher-focused software platform Indaggo and president the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology. The event will also feature opportunities to network with women leaders and entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, on the St. George campus, the second day of Entrepreneurship Week will feature the return of the popular Fireside at FemSTEM conversation series featuring special guest Yasaman Soudagar, co-founder and CEO of the neuroscience startup Neurescence who completed her PhD in experimental quantum optics at U of T and École Polytechnique in Montreal.

Another moderated conversation on March 7 will examine women who are transforming Canada’s music and arts landscape. The discussion, titled “I’m first cause I’m a L-A-D-I-E: Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Female Empowerment in Canada’s Hip Hop and Black Music Industries,” will feature: Tinesha Richards-Morris, director of 925 Agency Inc. and former managing director the arts and culture non-profit Manifesto; Annalie Bonda, label manager for independent record label Golly Geng Inc. and former executive director of arts training organization The Remix Project; and Keysha Freshh, a solo emcee and member of all-female hip-hop crew The Sorority. Audience members will have the chance to network with key figures in Canada’s music industry, learn how to navigate its barriers and discuss the role of gender in the Canadian music landscape.

Learn about mental wellness, stress management and how to deal with failure


This year’s Entrepreneurship Week will kick off with a keynote address and panel discussion on a critical but often overlooked topic in the world of entrepreneurship: stress management and mental wellness. The session will begin with a keynote from Lauren Brown, lead facilitator and program co-ordinator of mindfulness, meditation and yoga for U of T’s Division of Student Life, that will explore how entrepreneurs can harness their intuition and tackle stress. The keynote will be followed by a moderated discussion with a panel of founders.

Themes of wellness and resilience will also be explored during “Redefining the ‘F-word’ (Failure, not the other one),” a fireside chat with U of T Scarborough’s entrepreneur-in-residence Elina Chow and executive coach Matthew Fuller. The chat will include a candid exploration of failure in entrepreneurship.

Experience the new Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus

(photo by David Lee)

For the first time, this year’s Entrepreneurship Week will see several events hosted at U of T’s new Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus

The result of a historic $100-million donation by Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman, the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus serves as a hub for entrepreneurship, innovation and advancement in AI and related fields.

The building’s west tower will serve as the anchor location of Entrepreneurship Week 2024, hosting events including the curtain-raiser on mental wellness on March 4 and the entire slate of events on True Blue Impact Day on March 7, including the Desjardins Startup Prize and Speaker Series as well as the True Blue Expo featuring more than 40 startups, 12 campus-linked accelerators and numerous community partners.