Jon French is the Director, University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE). He is responsible for supporting and championing all entrepreneurship initiatives across U of T’s three campuses and provides leadership to the UTE team while managing ONRamp – 16,000 square feet of co-working and event space on the St. George (downtown) campus. He is a central liaison for the leaders of U of T’s 10+ accelerator programs and manages relationships with a number of key stakeholders across industry, government and the broader innovation ecosystem.
UTE will play a major role in establishing the new Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus as an innovation hub for the university, the City of Toronto and Canada. Jon also has oversight of various external and internal funding programs for U of T entrepreneurs. Since joining the university, he has helped launch tri-campus initiatives, including the Black Founders Network and the provincially-recognized IP Education Program. Under Jon’s leadership, U of T was recognized as one of the Top 5 University Business Incubators in the world in 2023.
Jon has over a decade of experience at the intersection of the innovation economy and academia and is connected across industry and higher education throughout Canada and globally. He was the first full-time employee for NEXT Canada (formerly The Next 36), where he held numerous roles, including Senior Director, Global Recruitment, Community and Alumni. Jon joined NEXT in 2011 and helped the organization expand into a nationally and internationally recognized network that supports Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs. He also helped launch NextAI, an artificial intelligence accelerator in Toronto and Montreal. In 2022, Jon received the Minister’s Award of Excellence in Innovation & Entrepreneurship from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges & Universities.
15 seconds with Jon
The invention you can’t live without: Beats by Dre Powerbeat Pro – wireless headphones
Best vacation ever: Patagonia
Hidden talent: Juggling
Favourite book: The World According to Garp